Cambridge River Festival

Early June in the Boston area finds residents ready to get out and take in everything the pleasant late spring weather provides. For the past 32 years, the Cambridge River Festival along the Charles River has offered art enthusiasts an opportunity to enjoy a day of all kinds of art exhibits and demonstrations, top musicians and performers, and many different types of ethnic foods. In recent years, close to 200,000 people have enjoyed the numerous performance venues, exhibits and food booths at the day-long festival, traditionally held the first or second Saturday in June.

There are so many performances, exhibits and demonstrations at the Cambridge River Festival that a visitor may find it nearly impossible to see everything between the time the festival opens at noon and closes at 6 pm.

A ceremony and parade kick off the day-long event at 11 am in Winthrop Park, located at Harvard Square. The parade from the park to the Charles River steps off at 11:20 am. Everyone can be a part of the parade; just bring an instrument – even a kazoo! – or a puppet.

Musicians offer all kinds of music genres, including jazz and gospel, folk and blues. Theatrical performances run the gamut from works of Shakespeare to improvisation. Dance companies offer ballet performances, as well as interactive lessons in Native American social dancing or salsa dancing.

Families can find a number of different activities to entertain both children and adults. Children can experience art through musical performances, interactive shows and art demonstrations such as puppet making and mask decorating.

Exhibits of local artists' works and crafts for sale are located throughout the festival grounds.

The Cambridge River Festival came to life in the early 1970s when local artists known as the Art Army, tired of protesting against the Vietnam War, instead decided to "be for" art. What the Art Army called "art attacks," spontaneous exhibits of different artistic expressions, culminated in a parade to the Charles River to emphasize the importance of art in everyday, urban life. The art attacks came under the wing of the newly formed Cambridge Arts Council in the mid-1970s, and the day-long Cambridge River Festival was born.

The Cambridge River Festival goes on rain or shine. It's located along a mile-long stretch of Memorial Drive on the north side of the Charles River between JFK Street and Western Avenue. It's highly recommended that visitors take the T to the Harvard Square stop or the 66 Bus from Allston to Harvard Square. On-street parking is practically impossible to find.