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The Boston Arts Festival


The Boston Arts Festival is an annual arts event featuring the best of visual and performing arts in Boston. It was started in 2003 by Mayor Thomas M. Menino in order to launch the performing arts season in Boston but also to draw crowds to the newly remodeled Christopher Columbus Park located on the Boston Waterfront. The Boston Arts Festival itself goes back to the 1950s when artist Ernst Halberstadt and poet and businessman Harold Plotkin started the festival as a platform for artists to display and sell their artwork, but the event stopped because of a conflict of interest with local politicians.

The Boston Arts Festival is humorously known as the “ahts” festival in reference to the way arts would be pronounced with a Boston accent. It takes place for three days in early September at the Christopher Columbus Park on Atlantic Avenue, and features a wide variety of activities and performances. It has a large attendance of 50,000 people that increases from year to year, especially thanks to the sunny weather and blue skies that are usually prevalent in early September in Boston. The festival is open to the public and free to attend.

The Boston Arts Festival showcases over 60 juried artists from around Boston who come to expose their various art work in the following categories; Assemblage, Ceramics such as pottery and sculptures, Fiber, textiles and Apparel featuring screen-printed scarves, t-shirts and jackets, Glass, Handbags, Housewares such as pillows and bedding, Illustration, all kinds of gold and silver Jewelry and precious metals, Metalworking, Painting, Photography and Sculpture.




Boston Arts Festival

Besides the wide array of visual arts which are available on the second and third days of the festival, there are many performing arts shows to enjoy on two of the park’s stages throughout the festival. There is something for everyone with a wide variety of performances such as poetry readings, jazz concerts, theater groups, shows by Opera Boston, bands and artists playing and singing music of different genres such as R&B, jazz, folk and many others. There are also tap-dancing, breakdancing, and ballet performances, shows targeting children, and classical music bands. .

Besides a great lineup of performing arts and spectacular exhibits of visual arts, the Boston Arts Festival also features hundreds of booths with local vendors selling their merchandise such as gift items and other products. It’s a great place to go shopping with so many different types of merchants in one place selling their goods at reasonable prices. There are also dozens of local nonprofit organizations that come to the festival to raise awareness about various issues and also engage with the community.


Boston Arts Festival

Families visiting the Boston Arts Festival will be happy to know that there are many children’s activities such as mural painting and specialized programs designed specifically to help engage families in the arts. There are also displays of glass techniques such as glassblowing and stained glasswork, wire sculptures, printmaking by hand, papermaking, chalk arts, puppets, mixed media, a photo booth and many other family-friendly activities.  The festival is also pet-friendly and a great place to bring your dog.




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