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Guide To Boston-Area Summer Music Festivals

There are few better ways than to spend a summer day kicking back and listening to some tunes. Fortunately for music lovers of all genres, Boston is a world-class city when it comes to music and the area plays hosts to dozens of music festivals each summer. Here are some worth putting on your calendar.



(Credit: City of Cambridge)

Cambridge River Festival

Saturday, June 4
Banks of the Charles River
Cambridge, MA

Cost: Free

This one-day celebration attracts 200,000 people each year and features jazz, folk, Latin and world music performances, along with dance, art demonstrations, family art-making activities and lots of great food.

(Credit: City of Cambridge)

Family Music Festival

Sunday, June 5
Lowell School Park
Cambridge, MA

Tickets: $5 for children, $10 for adults

Families can enjoy a picnic, face painting and a musical instrument "petting zoo." African Drumming & Dance duo Jerry & Lisa Leake and "El Doble de Amigos" perform, along with Sol y Canto's leaders, Rosi & Brian Amador.

(Credit: WUMB)

The 2011 WUMB Music Fest

Sunday, June 5th
UMass Boston
Boston, MA

Tickets: $15 - $100

This waterfront music festival boasts a long list of talented top performers on three different stages. Featured artists include Amy Black, Anthony da Costa, Buskin & Batteau, Chris Pahud, and David Mallett.

(Credit: BEMF)

Early Music Festival

June 12-19
New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall
30 Gainsborough Street
Boston, MA (Various other locations)

Visit website for pricing and tickets

The BEMF is the most respected early music festival in the world. The weeklong event includes a fully-staged Baroque opera masterpiece, concerts by the world's leading soloists and ensembles, and nearly 100 performances from renowned artists. The BEMF also hosts a family day with lectures, demonstrations and performances.



(Credit: Greater New Bedford SummerFest)

New Bedford Summerfest Folk Music and Arts Festival

Saturday, July 2 – Sunday, July 3
11 a.m.
New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
New Bedford, MA

Weekend Pass: $25 (Children under 12 are free)

Listen to an array of more than 70 renowned and emerging folk artists. The two day family-oriented festival is situated in the city's historic and beautiful National Park.

(Credit: Vans)

Vans Warped Tour

Wednesday, July 13
11:00 AM
Comcast Center
Mansfield, MA

Tickets: $34.50 - $38.00

This touring festival has been showing off the top punk rock bands in the country for 16 years and counting.

(Credit: Brewster Productions)

Plymouth Independent Music Festival

Saturday, July 23
1 p.m.
DCR Pilgrim Memorial Park
Plymouth, MA

Cost: Free

This free outdoor music festival showcases the best young local and national artists. Founded in 2007 as "Schoolhouse Rock", the festival's mission is to give young local artists the opportunity to play on a big stage and for audiences to be able to enjoy it.

(Credit: Lowell Folk Festival)

Lowell Folk Festival

Friday, July 29 - Sunday, July 31
Dutton Street Dance Pavilion and Boarding House Park
Lowell, MA

Cost: Free

The Lowell Folk Festival is the largest free folk festival in all of America. It features nearly two dozen artists over three days. This year's highlights will include honky-tonk Telecaster master Bill Kirchen & Too Much Fun, a cappella gospel singers The Birmingham Sunlights, and Ethiopian/ funk artists Debo Band with special guests Fendika.

(Credit: Newport Folk Festival)

Newport Folk Festival

Sat, July 30 & Sun, July 31
Fort Adams State Park
Newport, RI


Tickets: $69 +

Past Newport Folk Festivals are credited with helping launch the careers of a number of major artists; Joan Baez and Bob Dylan were the first two of many. To this day, the two day concert remains as one of the premier festivals in New England. This year's lineup includes The Decemberists, Amos Lee, The Civil Wars, Elvis Costello and about 3 dozen other talented artists and bands.



(Credit: Newport Jazz Festival)

Newport Jazz Festival

Fri, Aug 5 – Sun, Aug 7
International Tennis Hall of Fame
Fort Adams State Park
Newport, RI


Tickets: $40 +

Newport Jazz Festival was the first jazz festival in the country.
Legends like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Miles Davis have all graced the stage in past years. Among the artists playing this year's festival is Berklee-bred grammy winner, Esperanza Spalding

(Credit: Naukabout)

The Naukabout

Saturday, August 6
12:30 pm
Barnstable County Fairgrounds
Barnstable, MA

Tickets: $27.00

This day-long concert features music by some of the best local bands around, including a couple of Boston Music Award Winners: Will Dailey & The Rivals and Ryan Montbleau Band. Other popular local acts, Zach Deputy, Barefoot Truth, Adam Ezra Group, and Jackson Wetherbee Band are among those scheduled to rock out on stage throughout the day.

(Credit: Salem Jazz and Soul Festival)

Salem Jazz and Soul Festival

Saturday, August 20 – Sunday, August 21
11:30 a.m.
Salem Willows, 167 Fort Avenue
Salem, MA

Cost: Free

There just may be no better way to spend a day than sitting in a seaside park listening to the funky sounds of talented jazz, funk, and soul musicians.

(Credit: Essex Music Festival)

Essex Music Festival

Saturday, August 27
Centennial Grove
Essex, MA

Tickets: $10 Donation, Kids 15 & under are free

In its 17th year, the Essex Music Festival brings together the area's finest acoustic performers. Your whole family can enjoy listening to Bluegrass, Folk, Blues, Celtic, Ragtime, Cajun/Zydeco and Americana Roots music.



(Credit: Mix 104.1/Facebook)

MixFest 2011


Details about the annual bash thrown by Mix 104.1 are usually kept secret until early to mid summer. For more than a decade and running, MixFest typically books some of the hottest top billboard artists.

(Credit: Wachusett Mountain Ski Area)

Wachusett MusicFest

Sunday, September 11
Wachusett Mountain
Princeton, MA

Tickets:$15 - $30

Many of the details have not yet been announced for the 2011 show, but with a chili contest, sky rides, Beer Fest-of-Ale, and a motorcycle show already on the docket, MusicFest should have no trouble attracting crowds.

(Credit: Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival)

Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival

Saturday, September 24
Columbus and Mass Ave
Boston, MA

Cost: Free (Visit website for tickets & pricing on club performances)

The Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival features a full week of performances at various venues around Boston. The highlight of this festival is a free show with jazz, Latin, blues, and groove acts in front of tens of thousands of fans in Boston's historic South End.

(Credit: Life is good/Facebook)

Life is good Festival

Saturday, September 24 & Sunday, September 25
Prowse Farm (Blue Hills)
Canton, MA

Pricing & Details:Adults $65/$120 Kids $20/$35

Martin Sexton, Ray Lamontagne, Brandi Carlisle, and a whole bunch of other national acts will take the stage at this year's Life is good Festival at Blue Hills. Last year's festival raised more than $600,000 for the Life is good Kids Foundation.

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