10 things to do in Boston this Labor Day weekend

BosTen is your weekly guide to events and cool happenings in and around Boston.

The Institute of Contemporary Art will offer free admission on Labor Day.
The Institute of Contemporary Art will offer free admission on Labor Day. –Handout photo

While Massachusetts has reopened museums and other cultural institutions during Phase 3, many residents are continuing to stay home due to the coronavirus pandemic. With that in mind, this week’s BosTen offers a mix of things to do this weekend. Have an idea about what we should cover? Leave us a comment on this article or in the BosTen Facebook group, or email us at [email protected].

Get prehistoric at “Jurassic Quest”

You won’t have to drive down Route 1 if you want to see a giant dinosaur in Massachusetts. Starting Friday, Gillette Stadium will play host to Jurassic Quest, a traveling drive-through exhibit featuring more than 70 moving, roaring, animatronic dinosaurs, including a 50-foot megalodon and an 80-foot spinosaurus. The exhibit, which runs from Sept. 4 through Sept. 20, will be paired with an audio tour that takes carloads of people on a prehistoric safari of the largest dinosaurs to roam the planet and wildest creatures to inhabit the ocean’s depths. Tickets are available to purchase now on the Jurassic Quest website.

Cinco de Septiembre at The Painted Burro


Cinco de Mayo looked a little different this year thanks to the pandemic, so The Painted Burro in Somerville is declaring a re-do. From Thursday to Monday, the lively Mexican restaurants will throw a Cinco de Septiembre party featuring $5 tacos, beers, and shots, plus plenty of margaritas and giveaways from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. For an earlier start time, stop by on Saturday and Sunday for $5 brunch tacos and horchatas. 

Catch a show in Central Square at Songs Under the Stars

Performing arts theaters have largely remained closed during the pandemic, so this weekend, the Front Porch Arts Collective, a new Boston-based Black theater company, will take their performance outdoors. The group will present four nights of outdoor cabaret from Thursday through Sunday at Cambridge’s Starlight Square, a Central Square parking lot that has been repurposed as a space for public gatherings and performances. The concerts start at 8 p.m., and each night will feature new artists. To reserve free tickets in advance, visit the collective’s website.

End of Summer Indulgence at Time Out Market

The long weekend will see some decadent new items hitting Time Out Market in the Fenway, as part of the food hall’s End of Summer Indulgence theme taking place Thursday through Monday. Find apple cider doughnuts at Union Square Donuts, a crab burger at Nu Burger, sujuk-stuffed gulf shrimp at Anoush’ella, and a lobster roll at BISQ. Also at BISQ: Taqueria el Barrio will pop up on Sunday and Monday, serving tacos, El Barrio plates, and nachos. 

Learn about America’s foreign policy possibilities in Europe with the JFK Library


While the JFK Presidential Library and Museum has kept its doors closed during the entirety of the pandemic, it has continued to offer virtual access to its popular forums series. This Thursday, a panel of locally based experts will discuss America’s foreign policy challenges (and opportunities) in Europe: Ambassador (Ret.) Nicholas Burns, Harvard professor of diplomacy and international relations; Robert Mauro, director of the Boston College Irish Institute and Global Leadership Institute; and Alexandra Vacroux, executive director of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. You can register for the free event online via Eventbrite.

Take a science and cooking class at Harvard

Back for its 11th year, the Science and Cooking Public Lecture Series returns to Harvard on Monday, featuring Harvard professors, food experts, and chefs as they dive deep into the science behind culinary techniques. The classes — which take place on Monday nights at 7 p.m. via Zoom — are free and open to the public, starting with next week’s “A Nose Dive into Kitchen Pyrolysis” with Dave Arnold and Harold McGee. Register here to attend.

Catch blockbusters old and new at a drive-in movie theater

With traditional movie theaters finally opening their doors and cooler weather signaling the end of summer, drive-in movie season is beginning to wind down. That said, the season will almost certainly be extended for a few theaters, allowing them to continue showing crowd-pleasing hits of decades past, as well as some new releases finally arriving in theaters. If we were to pick a show each night, here’s how we would do it: On Thursday, the Suffolks Downs pop-up drive-in takes viewers back to the ’80s with “The Goonies”; Friday, the Mendon Twin has two of Steven Spielberg’s monster movies with “Jurassic Park” and “Jaws”; Saturday, the Northfield Drive-In has a pair of action sequels released in the last 12 months with “Bad Boys For Life” and “Zombieland: Double Tap”; and Sunday, the Wellfleet Drive-In has a double dose of family-friendly films with “Trolls World Tour” and “Madagascar”.

Stock up for a Labor Day picnic


The forecast for this Labor Day Weekend screams picnic weather, so may we suggest a few places to get started? Pick up Bambara’s Weekend BBQ Burger Kit, a $20 package featuring a dry-aged burger patty and all the fixings, plus homemade potato chips, pasta salad, tomato and watermelon salad, and chocolate chip cookies (order by Thursday at 8 p.m.). Choose from one of two cheese boxes at Piattini on Newbury Street — the Italian Classics or the Summer Picnic, each one with a bevy of cheeses, fig spread, and crostinis. Snag a Labor Day Weekend picnic basket from downtown’s Alcove, stocked with fried chicken sandwiches, pickles, potato salad and chocolate chips ($45 for 2 people, order by 5 p.m. on Friday). Then head to your favorite park (or closest grill), set up your spread, and enjoy a summer day well spent.

Watch “Shutter Island” at the abandoned hospital where it was filmed

The Coolidge Corner Theatre is kicking the drive-in movie experience up a notch, holding drive-in screenings of Martin Scorsese’s 2010 mystery/thriller “Shutter Island” on Saturday, Sept. 5, Sunday, Sept. 6, and Monday, Sept. 7 on the grounds of the now-closed Medfield State Hospital, where the movie was filmed. Based on Dorchester native Dennis Lehane’s 2003 novel of the same name, “Shutter Island” follows U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he tries to locate a missing patient at the psychiatric facility on Shutter Island. (Lehane took inspiration from facilities he visited on Boston’s Long Island in his younger days.) Tickets for Saturday and Sunday’s show are already sold out, so hop on the theater’s website for Monday’s tickets if you’re interested.

Enjoy free admission to the ICA

Though COVID-19 has changed quite a few things for Boston museums, one thing that remains the same is the ICA’s annual tradition of offering free admission on Labor Day. Unlike in previous years, however, the museum requires visitors to register on its website beforehand in order to allow for safe social distancing. Labor Day weekend marks the final time you’ll be able to see a pair of exhibits at the museum: “Tschabalala Self: Out of Body,” the first Boston exhibition for the Harlem artist which features  large-scale figurative paintings a variety of techniques to convey tales of urban life, the body, and humanity; and “Carolina Caycedo: Cosmotarrayas,” the Los Angeles-based artist’s collection of hanging sculptures made with handmade fishing nets and other objects collected from river communities affected by the privatization of waterways.

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