Cambridge Arts River Festival Is June 1


The 2014 Cambridge Arts River Festival. (Photo: Jeremy Gaucher)

Cambridge Arts River Festival 6/1: Mermaid Promenade, Climate Action Extravaganza, Music, Sculpture Race

June 1, 2019
11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Central Square Cultural District

along Massachusetts Avenue
from Prospect Street to Sidney Street and beyond

The Cambridge Arts River Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary by bringing the river to the Central Square Cultural District on Saturday, June 1, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The festival will fill the neighborhood with four stages of music plus dance, theater, immersive art experiences, and vendors selling crafts, international foods and craft brews. Admission is free.

This year’s festival features the debut of the Mermaid Promenade. Marching bands and giant puppets will dance down Massachusetts Avenue at 4 p.m. All are invited to join in the parade. Just show up in your favorite marine-themed costume and be part of the festivities. (17,000 people have already registered their interest in the parade on Facebook.)

At the Climate Action Extravaganza, try the electric car ride and drive sponsored by Reach Strategies and Eversource, build solar panels, ride e-bikes, and make a protest t-shirt with Wee the People. Elsewhere in the festival, paint a mural with Liz LaManche about how women small-scale farmers are on the frontlines against hunger and climate change. Hear poetry about our warming world at the Poetry Tent. Cambridge Arts is moving the festival toward being a zero-waste event. This year half the festival stages will be solar-powered and we’re eliminating plastic water bottles and offering compost bins.

The festival day kicks off with the madcap People’s Sculpture Race at 11 a.m. Then multiple stages come alive with music, dance and theater from noon to 6 p.m. Laszlo Gardony brings his piano jazz to the Jazz, R&B, & World Music Stage. On the Folk & Roots Stage, hear Billy Wylder’s foot-stomping roots rock and Alisa Amador’s groovy blend of rock, jazz and alternative folk. Paper Citizen offers indie pop and Adam and the Flood raps over stark rock on the Rock, Indie and Alternative Stage. The Youth Stage presents singing, dance, musical theater, improv comedy and a drumline.

Festival visitors can paint a city snow plow truck; watch poems being printed by a 2-ton steamroller; and go on a tour of murals around Central Square.

Food (barbecue, Indian, Jamaican, Mediterranean, Thai, among others), arts and crafts will be available for sale. Then relax with a cool drink at one of the festival’s Beer Gardens with a cool drink from local breweries.

Join us on June 1 and see why Boston Magazine named the Cambridge Arts River Festival the area’s best arts festival in 2017 and 2018

New at the Cambridge Arts River Festival in 2019:

• The Mermaid Promenade along Massachusetts Avenue at 4 p.m. will feature music by Rara Bel Poze and Band Land Brass Band plus giant puppets by The Puppeteers' Cooperative, Behind the Mask Studio, The Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry Project and Honey Goodenough of Puppet Showplace Theater. All are invited to join in the parade. Just show up in your favorite marine-themed costume at 3:30 p.m. to line up for the parade at the Youth Stage near the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Essex Street.

• Climate change will be the central theme for the 40th annual Cambridge Arts River Festival. The Mermaid Promenade, activities in the Climate Action Extravaganza, and poetry readings will speak to the urgency of these global changes and the event’s connection to the Charles River. Cambridge Arts also aims to make the River Festival a model of sustainability by moving it toward a zero-waste event. This year, half the stages will be solar powered. The festival will offer compost bins. And Cambridge Arts will not be distributing water bottles. Instead, water stations will be set up throughout the festival for visitors to fill their own reusable bottles. Vendors will use only recyclable or compostable dishes and no styrofoam, no plastic straws, no plastic bags. Vendors are also asked to compost all food waste and recycle used cooking oil in provided bins.

• The 2019 Cambridge Arts River Festival will bring the river to the Central Square Cultural District. The move from the East Cambridge waterfront into the heart of the city celebrates the state’s recent recertification of the Cultural District, the work in progress for the area to be identified as a Business Improvement District, and the seven new murals in the neighborhood thanks to the Central Square Mural Project.