Life on a Budget: 8 Free Events in Boston This Week

A handbell festival, stargazing, and a history lesson are just a few of the things you can enjoy in Boston
week — at no charge! So grab your friends, neighbors, kids and Grandma, too! Tell them it’s on the house.

If your company or organization is offering a free event this week, please share details in the comments below!

Boston Handbell Festival

Tuesday, May 19

8 to 10 p.m.

Old South Church

Boylston and Dartmouth Streets

Ring in the week with the annual Boston Handbell Festival, a celebration of music co-sponsored by Old South and the Back Bay Ringers. The evening features five handbell ensembles: Back Bay Ringers, the Hancock Carillon, the Merrimack Valley Ringers, the New England Ringers, and the Old South Ringers. The festival is open to the public at no charge. For more information, visit


The Garden of Flags

Wednesday through Monday, May 20 to 25

Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Boston Common

The Garden of Flags — 37,000 of them! — creates a powerful memorial in front of Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Boston Common. Each flag in the picturesque landscape represents the life of a Massachusetts service member who died in defense of the United States. On Thursday, May 21, there will be a ceremony there to honor service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The tribute begins at 10 a.m. For more information, visit


Lecture: How Did Old North Become Old North?

Wednesday, May 20

6:30 to 8 p.m.

Old North Church

193 Salem Street

We all know Christ Church in Boston as “Old North,” but do you know the story behind that name? When Christ Church was built in 1723, there was already an Old North in Boston. Where was the original and how did the name change hands? Robert J. Allison, History Department Chair at Suffolk University, will share the history and legend of Old North in this presentation.


Open Night at the Observatory

Wednesday, May 20

8:30 p.m.

Coit Observatory

Boston University

725 Commonwealth Avenue

Public Open Night takes place at the Coit Observatory on most Wednesday evenings. Observe the night sky in spectacular detail and take in a one-hour program that includes an astronomy lesson and instruction. In the event of clouds, haze or rain, Open Night may be canceled. Call 617-353-2630 after 6:30 p.m. for information before heading to the observatory. Note that the program takes place outdoors and is not accessible to the disabled. For more information, visit


Institute of Contemporary Art

Thursday, May 21

5 to 9 p.m.

100 Northern Avenue

The Institute of Contemporary Art opens its door at no charge on Thursdays from 5 to 9 p.m. The building alone is worth the visit. It is one of the city’s grand waterfront attractions. Among the current art exhibits are Meleko Mokgosi’s multi-panel paintings reflecting the history of Southern Africa and Matthew Richie’s  three-dimensional painting Remanence.  


Literary Lunch Break at South Station

Friday, May 22

1 to 2 p.m.

700 Atlantic Ave.

Literary Lunch Break includes eight weekly lunch programs that present local authors and their works.  On Friday, May 22, the spotlight is on pediatrician and musician Lisa Wong, author of Scales to Scalpels: Doctors Who Practice the healing Arts of Music and Medicine. She will speak and sign copies of her book. Look for the activity under South Station’s Destination Board. For more information, visit


69th Annual Memorial Day Services

Saturday May 23

11 a.m.

Veterans Memorial Park

Back Bay Fens

This tribute to fallen soldiers will take place at Veterans Memorial Park in the Back Bay Fens. The park is home to monuments honoring those who fought in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. While you are there, enjoy the spring beauty of the Kelleher Rose Garden. The garden is located next to the memorial park and is a pretty place for a stroll.


Saturday through Monday, May 23 to 25

Faneuil Hall Marketplace

1 Faneuil Hall Square

When there is a crowd in Faneuil Hall, it is likely you will find street performers nearby. Throughout the holiday weekend, a number of artists will be putting on free shows. Mimes, jugglers, musicians and magicians are lined up. To learn more about the many talented people who entertain the crowds, visit


So where will  you be heading to enjoy life on a budget this week?

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About Author

MaryJo Kurtz
MaryJo Kurtz

MaryJo Kurtz is the assistant vice president of marketing and communications at Hanscom FCU.

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