Fall Arts Preview: Family
These family events are truly all-ages: Quite a variety to choose from — music, fairs, acrobats and more
Too often, a “family event” means it’s fun for someone in the family, but probably not everyone. And probably not the adults. But this fall looks like it offers a line-up of shows that truly includes all ages.
So pick the events that suit your taste, grab the kids, and go.
“High School Musical.” Are you wondering if this phenomenon will ever end? Well, the answer is no. This Disney movie has turned into an unstoppable force. The newest incarnation is the touring version of the musical that visits the Wang Theatre in Boston (Oct. 31-Nov. 4). Look, your kids are going to enjoy it more than you will, but it’s a lot better than many of the things you have to sit through for your kids.
“RiverSing”: Celebrate the first day of autumn with outdoor singing, giant puppets and a multitude of ringing bells. Revels music director George Emlen and puppets Oshun and Poseidon are back to lead you in song. Also expect performances from local area choruses and musicians. People are encouraged to come early and picnic by the Charles. Oh, and don’t forget to bring a bell so that you can ring it with the official 40-pound bronze River Bell from atop the bridge. Sept. 23, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Weeks Footbridge, from Cambridge to Allston. Free.
Oktoberfest in Harvard Square. It isn’t fall until you party, German-style. The 29th annual Oktoberfest will feature six stages of music, street performances and more than 200 artisans selling handmade, vintage and recycled items. We don’t recommend that you bring your kids to visit the beer garden, but you might want to slip away for a cold one, because it wouldn’t be a proper Oktoberfest without one. Oct. 7, Harvard Square, noon to 6 p.m., free.
Topsfield Fair. There’s no other place in New England where you can see animals, view a giant pumpkin, go on rides, and eat various fried foods in one place, which is why the annual Topsfield Fair is such a draw. Literally, it’s fun for all ages. Still want more? How about some music? 38 Special is scheduled to perform on Sept. 30 and Jordan Knight (former New Kid on the Block) will sing on Oct. 3. But whatever you see, make a special effort to hit up the pig barn. Sept. 28-Oct. 8, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Admissions: $10, weekends and holidays $12, kids under 8 with adult, free.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The clowns, animals, and tricks are all coming back into town. And don’t forget about Bello, who was named by Time as “America’s Best Clown” (we know a few that would qualify for the worst). Get ready for “an Upside-Down World” where the performers had to train for weeks to defy gravity. And anyone interested in joining the circus should look into the Celebrity Pass ($100), which allows you, at a certain time, to join the “Greatest Show on Earth” in the spotlight. Oct. 5-14, TD Banknorth Garden, Boston. Admission: $15-$100.
The Big E: It may be in West Springfield, but it’s worth a trip across the state for the largest fair in the Northeast. The attractions vary from a 7,000 gallon shark tank, a gallery of the top 40 news stories of our time and the Mechanical Man (is he real? is he a robot?). There’s a huge circus and scheduled music acts like hip-hop artist Ludacris (Sept. 30), Daughtry (Sept. 15), Trace Atkins (Sept. 16), and Joan Jett (Sept. 14). And that’s not even everything. Sept. 14-30, West Springfield. Admission: $8-$10, children under 5 free, 17-day passes available.
Opening Our Doors Day. This is an annual event where museums, music venues and theaters open their doors to the public, free of charge. In one day, you can see performances at the New England Conservatory, the Berklee College of Music and the Boston Symphony Orchestra all without reaching for your wallet. This is a great day to give the family that shot of culture you’ve been trying to give them all year. Check www.fenwayculture.org for the full schedule and places that are opening their doors. Oct. 8, various places, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Free.
Fitchburg Autumn Festival. Take a trip to central Massachusetts and enjoy this festival with three premiere events: the Annual Forge-In Blacksmith Competition (metalworkers demonstrate their skills for cash prizes), the Riverfront Antiques Show & Sale (buy antiques and get the treasures you found in your house appraised), and The Great Pumpkin Carve (entries will be displayed at night by the Nashua River with candles in them). There will also be live music by 60s Invasion. All of this is packed into one day, so be ready for it. Oct. 13 (rain day Oct. 14), Riverfront Park, Fitchburg, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Free.
Boston HarborWalk. Get a little exercise and learn some history about Boston Harbor all at once. The walking tour goes from Maverick Square to Piers Park. The tour will explain the developments that are coming to the area and delve into the maritime history. Bring a camera to capture some of the great Boston Harbor views you’ll see (weather permitting of course). Sept. 12, meet outside the Dunkin’ Donuts across from the Maverick Blue Line station in East Boston, 5:15 p.m. to 6 p.m.. Free, but reservations required. Call 617-482-1722.
Fall Family Festival at the Garden in the Woods. In celebration of the 75th anniversary of the New England Wild Flower Society’s Garden in the Woods, W. Gary Smith has created a site-specific installation called “Art Goes Wild: Innovation with Native Plants.” There are 11 “destination gardens”; it should be an exquisite sight in autumn. This is another great place for that picture-perfect family photo that will be the envy of all your friends and relatives during the holidays. Oct. 14, Garden in the Woods, Framingham, noon to 4 p.m., $3-$7 (children under five and members free).
The Boston Globe’s Children Book Festival. Get your child excited about reading when they get a chance to meet authors Sara Pennypacker (“The Talented Clementine”and “Praise for Clementine”) and Jan Spivey Gilchrist (“My America”). There will also be inspirational music performances by Roger Day (“Dream Big”) and the young Jordon McCoy (“Just Watch Me”). If your child is already an avid reader, this is also a great place to get more of their favorite books and to see their beloved characters in person. Sept. 15, Copley Square, Boston, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free.