Boston has so many superlatives, from having America’s oldest city park and first public botanical garden to being one of the best cities in the United States and the world. It has plenty of options to keep you busy and entertained throughout the year, with numerous tours, historical landmarks, cultural institutions, theaters, and live music venues. And speaking of music, the city’s live music scene has always been legendary.
Every music venue is filled with fans to see their favorite bands perform, from the smallest bars and clubs to the biggest concert halls. There’s always music playing in restaurants and cafes at night, which host performances by local groups and duos playing rock and roll, electronic, folk, jazz, classical, or even country music. Boston is also the birthplace of some of the prominent names in the industry, including Aerosmith, Mission of Burma, Donna Summer, Jonathan Richman, Dropkick Murphys, and more.
If you’re here to catch your favorite artist at music festivals in Boston, you won’t be disappointed. This lively city has some of the best music events and concerts year-round. One of the best music festivals you shouldn't miss is the Boston Calling Music Festival, the city's biggest music event that brings tens of thousands of crowds each year. What's the best way to make your way to Boston Calling? Read our guide on how to get around Boston.
Pro tip: When packing for overnight music festivals, you’ll only need a day bag. Leave your other belongings at a Boston luggage storage spot to keep your valuables safe and secured.
The best music festivals in Boston in 2022
Boston Calling Music Festival
If you want to spend your Memorial Day weekend May 27-29 in the Massachusetts capital, be sure to check out the biggest music festival in Boston, the Boston Calling Music Festival. It’s a multi-day outdoor festival that takes place on multiple stages at Harvard’s Athletic Complex. It features the biggest names and best acts in visual arts, live music, DJs, and more.
Nine Inch Nails kicks off the event as the headliner at Boston Calling Music Festival 2022. They join Metallica, their fellow headliners, concluding the event on the final day. They also join the outstanding lineup that includes Avril Lavigne, Weezer, Run the Jewels, Haim, Glass Animals, Paris Jackson, The Struts, and more to will perform different types of music genres.
It’s a rain or shine event on Memorial Day weekend. So unless there’s severe weather or special circumstances, Boston Calling is ready to present indoor performances, incredible concessions, and tons of surprises for the audience. Wear sunscreen, bring your hats, sunglasses, and snacks, and be ready for a music festival like you’ve never experienced before.
Everyone is welcome at Boston Calling, offering free admission for children under 10. Make sure you stay hydrated, so drink lots of water before heading to the event. But you can also enjoy the vendors’ beverage offerings at the festival.
Latin American Music Festival
Latin American Music Festival (LAMF) combines music and art, bringing together musicians, classical guitarists, and artists of all levels. It’s a four-day music and arts festival celebrating Latin American Music and local talent. It features a Master Class, competitions, and workshops to support new and emerging artists and present concerts in the city.
The grand opening is on June 11th at Starlight Square at 7 pm. No concert tickets are required because it offers free entrance for all. However, the actual music event with a series of activities, exhibits, music shows, and other entertainment opportunities will start from June 16th at Harvard Music Association to June 19th at the SoWA Open Market. The final day is an open-air closing recital from 2 pm to 4 pm by Son Jarocho Music with Ramon Gutierrez and Students.
LAMF is one of the newest music festivals in Boston, launched in 2018. Since its inception, it has collaborated with different institutions in the city, including the Northeastern University, New England Conservatory, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Carriage House Violins, and the Rivers School Conservatory, among others.
Daywave Music Festival
If you’re a fan of dance music or watching disk jockeys on stage, then you’ll want to consider preparing for the Daywave Music Festival. Even if you’re visiting Boston, you can still drive to Lowell for this event as it’s only about 30 minutes away from the city.
This festival is hosted by DJ Money and The Wavey Babies, with the venue located in South Lowell near Cawley Memorial Stadium. The Daywave Music Fest takes place on Sunday, June 26, from 1 pm to 9:30 pm, with tickets ranging from 25 to 40 dollars. Like with most music festivals, there is food available, and you can buy merchandise to take home if you’re from out of town.
Of course, there are plenty of beverages to keep anyone on their feet, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. So this is indeed a great festival to attend if you want an exciting place to spend an entire day with friends.
Levitate Music Festival
While waiting for the next music festivity in the city, drive to Marshfield, a town about thirty minutes south of Boston, and attend Levitate Music Festival. It’s a celebration of arts and music in summer, providing a platform for every local talent and artist to showcase their music and art to the world. It features reggae, roots, folk-rock, and funk music. The venue is at the Marshfield Fairgrounds for the three-day party, from July 8th to 10th, 2022.
Levitate Music and Arts Festival curates an exciting lineup of creative local and international artists. Headlining this year’s celebration is Jack Johnson, who will be joined by Vulfpeck, Phil Lesh & Friends, Stick Figure, Dirty Heads, Old Crow Medicine Show, Stephen Marley, Everyone Orchestra, and Tropidelic, among others.
This impressive grassroots music and arts festival is a family-friendly celebration, welcoming children of all ages. You can get the kid's ticket through the front gate, but children under four can attend without concert tickets. Check out the Kids World for fun and engaging activities if you're going with your children.
Bringing music right to your porch, Fenway Porchfest is an afternoon event of free music in public spaces and outside of people’s homes. It’s a collaboration between different non-profit Fenway organizations, including Fenway Civic Association, Fenway Community Development Corporation, and Fenway Alliance. It focuses on bridging locals with the arts, prioritizing home-grown talents, and creating a fun neighborhood-wide event. This music festival on the porches is scheduled for July 9th, from 12 pm to 4:30 pm, with a rain date on Sunday, July 10th.
Porchfest is an annual music festival held in more than 100 cities across the United States. However, the first one in Boston was only conducted a few years ago, on June 16th, 2018. It showcases local acts from artists living and performing in the neighborhood and throughout the city.
This year, Fenway Porchfest brings together musicians, amateurs, professionals, and everything in between to perform at different Fenway locations. These include the Symphony Hall, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA), Tasty Burger, Back Bay Fens, and other sites. The artists who will perform are Hallam George and the Hallelujah Chorus, FlyBy Brass Band, Max Morton, Austin Bullock, Visiting Wine, Tokyo Tramps, Eliot Wilder, and many more.
Lowell Folk Festival
About half an hour from Boston city, the Lowell Folk Festival returns on July 29th-31st in the vibrant downtown area. It’s the 35th year of the Folk Festival in this Boston’s neighboring city, featuring close to twenty performing groups who will share their musical traditions on different stages and throughout downtown Lowell. It may not be a music festival in Boston, but it’s definitely an event to look forward to if you’re in the city around this time.
Expect three days of fun music and art, accompanied by great food. For those interested in musical instruments, the Folk Craft Area will include demonstrations on playing, restoring, and building musical instruments. There’s a Foodways Area to explore various comfort foods from different communities and food trucks.
No wonder it’s been drawing in over 150,000 people for years. The dance stage is at Arcand Drive, and the larger Market Street Stage will feature polka, blues, and Cajun bands. Since it’s been postponed due to the pandemic, there is a lot of excitement about bringing the festival back
Boston Salsa Festival
Boston Salsa Festival is a fantastic event that celebrates the salsa style of dancing, so expect lots of fun music that will make you want to dance. It also honors the unique Latino heritage, featuring performances and workshops by experienced instructors and world-class dancers, as well as your favorite local bachata, salsa, and kizomba groups.
Expect two days and three nights of shows and live music at the luxurious Westin Waltham Boston Hotel from August 19th to 21st. It’s only fifteen miles from downtown Boston with 20,500 square feet of space to accommodate participants. It is organized by two of the city’s most loved salseros and DJs, Hernan Choque and Andrew Giraldo.
The best DJs in town will spin the hottest kizomba, salsa, and bachata music. These include DJs Black Mamba, Franklin, Martinez, Eddie Tunez, Johnny G, Raj, Locura, and many more. You’ll also see performances by Boston’s talented dancers, Andres & Jonny and Burju, Jefferson & Adrianita from Columbia, Salsa Synergy from Orlando, Carine & Rafael from Brazil, and other artists from around the world.
Boston Jazz Fest
If you’re traveling to Boston in August, you’ll definitely want to take note of the city’s annual summer festival, the Boston Jazz Festival. Sadly, the 2021 festival was canceled due to the pandemic. Fortunately, this year’s event will go ahead, but keep in mind that many of those who planned to attend last year’s event will no doubt be planning to attend in 2022. So if you don’t want to miss out on this amazing day filled with jazz music, make sure to reserve the date.
The Boston Jazz Festival takes place on Saturday, August 27, from noon to 9 pm. As its name suggests, this event will host some of the best jazz musicians in the industry. It will be held at Maritime Park in Boston’s Seaport District. The entrance is free, although you can give donations as this event is planned by a non-profit organization.
Particularly, this year will feature a special guest named Kandace Spring, a singer, songwriter, and pianist with mixes of R&B, pop, and, of course, jazz. Among other jazz musicians participating in this festival are Pat Braxton (an award-winning singer), Vivian Fang Liu (an award-winning pianist), Chieli Minucci (leader of the Grammy-nominated jazz-fusion group called SPECIAL EFX), and The Groovalattos (a multi-Grammy nominated soul-funk jam band).
Boston Arts Festival
Although not entirely part of the Boston music festivals, Boston Arts Festival is worth mentioning as it features local musicians performing throughout the day on the Waterfront Stage, along with craftspeople and visual artists. Held on September 10th and 11th, this festival is a spectacular event to start your fall holiday in Boston.
This arts fest brings more than 50,000 visitors to Boston Harbor at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. It gives them a perfect opportunity to meet different artists who love to share their passion and craft works, including ceramics, jewelry, sculpture, photography, paintings, and more. It’s a free live event that is open to the public of various ages.
Planning to stay some more days in Boston?
It’s always an exhilarating experience to attend music festivals in Boston as it allows you to witness excellent performances from talented artists and musicians from around the world. Close to Boston are other neighboring cities with incredible New England event and music festivals worth attending, such as the Solid Sound Festival in North Adams and Gloucester Blues Festival in Gloucester, about 45 minutes from Boston.
While in the Massachusetts capital, take the opportunity to explore its world-class museums besides being part of music fests and concerts. There are also numerous restaurants, cafes, and street food options that will give you an authentic Bostonian dining experience. So if you have extra days to spend in Boston, get out there and plan your days on different activities and outdoor adventures to maximize your holiday.
If you're planning to stay longer in Boston, take a look at our other Boston guides for other fun activities!