The capital of the state of Massachusetts, Boston was founded in 1630, making in one of the oldest cities anywhere in the United States. This east coast city played an important part in the American War of Independence against Britain, and its rich historic legacy has long been an attraction to tourists, alongside a growing reputation as one of the finest places in the USA to grab a meal or enjoy a night out.
With all this in mind, what is the best time to visit Boston? We’ll help you answer that question, not only giving you the lowdown on the weather in a month by month breakdown, but also giving you information on when the city is at its most crowded and most expensive. Not only that, but we also provide a calendar of the most popular events that take place in the city each year.
As with many cities on the eastern seaboard of the United States, the best time of year to visit Boston is usually thought to be the high summer months stretching through to the first months of fall. The summer events calendar – with many taking advantage of the good weather – make these months a great time to visit despite the higher accommodation costs and increased number of other tourists you’re likely to encounter.
This is our INSIDER GUIDE for the best times to visit Boston!
The beginning of fall remains warm enough to make walking the chic streets of central Boston a delight, and this time is often described as the city’s shoulder period. There’s another at the beginning of spring.
Known for the deep snows that come with winter on this side of the United States, its still very possible to visit Boston during the winter, when the air is crisp and the city sees no more rain than at any other time of the year.
Is Boston safe?
While nowhere in the world is 100% safe, as long as you use your common sense, you’ll likely be fine in Boston.
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What months are the best time to visit Boston?
We can split this particular question into two parts, referring to weather and tourist numbers in turn. June through to September are undoubtedly the best months of the year to visit Boston when it comes to the average weather conditions. During these months, temperatures don’t drop below averages of 57°F (14°C), with highs peaking at 81°F (27°C) in July. Unsurprisingly these months are also the peak tourist season, with higher hotel prices as a result.
Avoiding the school holidays in July and August will help you avoid the most expensive prices, with the city’s two shoulder periods, roughly coinciding with the months of May and October good alternatives. Below we provide a detailed breakdown of the weather, month by month.
Read below for information about Boston weather in January (Photo credit – boston-discovery-guide.com)
Boston weather in January
The coldest month of the year, January sees temperatures that never depart far from freezing point, with highs of 36°F (2°C) and lows of 23°F (-5°C), although in extreme circumstances this can drop right down to -4°F (-20°C). You’re likely to see snow for around a third of the month, with the snowpack up to 10 inches deep, lingering due to the short daylight hours that last around six hours.
Boston events in January
There’s a growing trend across the globe for celebrating the new year with an icy dip into a body of nearby fresh water. The tradition in Boston has been going since 1902, with up to 1000 swimmers slipping into Dorchester Bay for a new year with a difference.
Boston Wine Festival
Beginning in January and running right through to March, the Boston Wine Festival has been running for more than three decades. Involving the world’s top wine makers, the festival combines specially paired dishes to the wines on offer, to make an unforgettable overall experience.
Boston Celtic Music Festival
Boston is well known for its large Irish community, which celebrates its heritage city-wide with the annual Celtic Music Festival in the second half of January. Known locally as BCMFest, it takes place in Harvard Square and showcases music from Ireland, Scotland and also northern France.
Read below for information about Boston weather in February (Photo credit – archive.boston.com/)
Boston weather in February
There is a hint, but only a hint, that temperatures are on the rise in February, with temperatures shifting fifteen degrees between highs of 39°F (4°C) and lows of 25°F (-4°C). Rain and snow fall are similar to that in January at around 3.5 inches falling over eight days, while snow cover drops to around 4 inches in depth.
Boston events in February
Chinese New Year
Taking place at the very end of January or early February, the celebrations of the Lunar New Year are the biggest event to take place in Boston’s Chinatown. There’s a street parade involving traditional lion dancers, drummers, and plenty of firecrackers, as well as a huge number of stalls selling authentic edible goodies.
Boston SciFi Film Festival
Reaching its 45th birthday, this science fiction film festival is based in the city’s Somerville Theater, making it the longest running genre festival in the United States. The 10-day fest includes Hollywood films, indie movies, workshops and much more besides.
Mark the most romantic day in the year at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, where actors in costume read from the love letters of John Adams – second President of the United States – and his wife Abigail.
Read below for information about Boston weather in March (Photo credit – boston-discovery-guide.com)
Boston weather in March
Snow is still a possibility during the first half of March, but a rarity later, to be replaced by an average of 3.5 inches of rain. Though the days remain short, especially compared to Boston’s summer months, the temperature rises to 46°F (8°C), with lows just below freezing at 30°F (-1°C).
Boston events in March
St Patrick’s Day
With such a large part of the community with links back in Ireland, there’s little surprise that the St Patrick’s Day events in Boston are some of the largest in the USA. The traditional parade runs through the center of the city and sees huge crowds greet the pipers and other musicians that take part.
Boston Underground Film Festival
Intended to be a carnival of the bizarre, this film festival is held at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, not far from Boston, and aims to provide a viewing space for feature-length and short films that otherwise struggle to find an audience.
Read below for information about Boston weather in April (Photo credit – boston-discovery-guide.com)
Boston weather in April
Although April is acknowledged as Boston’s wettest month of the year, in reality there is very little difference to any other month, with the average amount of rainfall rising just slightly to 4 inches. Temperatures hit double figures in Celsius for the first time in the year, with average daily temperature highs of 55°F (13°C).
Boston events in April
Sadly hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent years, the Boston Marathon remains a highlight in the city’s calendar. The world’s oldest yearly 26.2-mile race, it takes place on Patriot’s Day – the third Monday in April. You’ll need to book in plenty of time to get a place as one of the 30,000 competitors, but failing that, you can join the crowds, which hit 500,000.
Faneuil Hall Street Performer auditions
The Faneuil Hall Marketplace is as much about street performances – a little like London’s Covent Garden – as it is its stalls. April sees the organizers host auditions for new wannabe performers, and allow the public to watch along.
Taste of the North End
Filling up DCR’s Steriti Memorial Park at the end of April, this is the food festival to end all food festivals. Offering up dishes from the best of the city’s Italian restaurants, the festival raises money for local charities. Make sure to go there hungry, as there are around 45 different stalls!
Read below for information about Boston weather in May (Photo credit – npr.org)
Boston weather in May
Spring makes itself known with longer days, of around eight hours, and average highs of 66°F (19°C) and peak highs of around 72°F (22°C). Rain showers are generally lighter than those of April, although as the total amount of rain that falls remains pretty constant, showers are more frequent instead.
Boston events in May
Boston Calling is a music festival taking place at Harvard’s Athletics Complex. Inviting some of the most popular indie and rock performers of the time, past lineups have included the likes of Tame Impala and Jack White playing on the huge open-air main stage.
Not so much a week as a 10-day extravaganza of the arts, Art Week spans venues across the city with its series of workshops, exhibitions, and behind the scenes tours. You’ll also be able to catch some of the city’s major buildings lit up especially, with most of the events taking place free to attend.
Coinciding with Mother’s Day, Duckling Day is an event for younger visitors to Boston. Those five and under are invited to dress up as baby ducks in order to re-enact the storyline of the children’s bestseller Make Way for Ducklings on Boston Common.
Read below for information about Boston weather in June (Photo credit – patch.com)
Boston weather in June
Boston sees average daily temperatures through the month of 75°F (24°C), with daily peaks hitting above an impressive 86°F (30°C). Evenings are warming up too, and sun set shifts back further so that visitors are able to enjoy more than 10 hours of sunshine per day. When it comes to rain, you can expect an average of 3.5 inches, like much of the rest of the year.
Boston events in June
Head to the Central Square Cultural District in Cambridge at the beginning of June and you’ll encounter the River Festival. There are regular live performances both on stage and along the streets involved, as well as hands-on craft-making and a good range of food stalls too, and what’s more, it’s free!
Roughly a week of events marking the contribution of the LGBT+ community comes to a grand end with the annual Pride Parade, which turns the city streets into a car-free celebration of humanity in all its forms. It begins in Copley Square and finishes at City Hall Plaza.
Dragon Boat Festival
The Charles River plays host to this two-day festival that sees more than 30 teams race along the 500-meter course. Away from the water’s edge, the largest Asian-American party in New England also includes food stalls, traditional dancing, and free demos of martial arts.
Read below for information about Boston weather in July (Photo credit – Weather Atlas)
Boston weather in July
July is Boston’s hottest month, with evening temperatures still hovering close to 68°F (20°C) and daytime highs that can peak at 86°F (30°C). Higher levels of humidity also add to the discomfort of some, particularly during the afternoon hours. Rain fall is slightly lower than other months, with an average just over 3 inches falling.
Boston events in July
4 July Celebrations
Marking the signing of the Declaration of Independence which brought the United States into being, 4 July is famous for its fireworks displays. Head to the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular for an evening of live music that culminates in a fireworks display that’s difficult to beat.
Also taking place at the beginning of July, Boston Harborfest was created almost four decades ago to bring to life the city’s long and distinguished maritime and revolutionary history. There are hundreds of events to choose from, at some of Boston’s most important landmarks, meaning there really is something for everyone.
Shakespeare on the Common
The end of July sees the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company performing free full-length plays by the bard on Boston Common. Each year sees different plays being performed, with most taking place around 8pm, alongside at least one matinee performance.
Read below for information about Boston weather in August (Photo credit – Reddit)
Boston weather in August
Overall weather conditions in August are similar to those in July, although temperatures are slightly lower than their July highs, with daytime averages peaking at 81°F (27°C). If you’re heading for the coast to get out onto the water, August sees the highest water temperatures of the year, at around 68°F (20°C).
Boston events in August
Dine Out Boston
Running in August (with another edition each March) Dine Out Boston is your chance to sample some of the finest cuisine on offer in the city at very special prices. Participating restaurants offer distinct fixed-price menus at both lunch and dinner, with Dine Out including national chains and smaller independents.
Feast of St Anthony
It might seem unusual for a Catholic religious festival to be celebrated with such fervor, but the large Irish and Italian communities mean the Feast of St Anthony is no minor city event. It includes a procession of a statue of St Anthony that lasts 10 hours. The fiesta takes place on the fourth weekend of August.
Films at the Gate
This is a free open-air film festival taking place in Boston’s Chinatown, dedicated to screenings of classic kung fu and Chinese movies. Shown with English or bilingual subtitles there are a limited number of folding chairs on offer if you can’t bring your own.
Read below for information about Boston weather in September (Photo credit – thetab.com)
Boston weather in September
Seeing some of the least rain fall of the year, with just 2.75 inches falling throughout the month, September also remains largely warm. Temperatures range from highs of around 73°F (23°C), to lows of 57°F (14°C), ensuring it’s still warm enough to explore the city free of heavy coats and scarfs.
Boston events in September
Boston Film Festival
Creating a program of films that both entertains and educates, the Boston Film Festival show reels include films with all manner of subjects, from the environment to mental health. Many of the screenings end with Q&As by actors and directors, and many are advanced screenings of films that go on to become award-winning.
Mayor’s Cup Cross Country
A wonderful way to get out into the open air in the beginning of fall, this is the largest open-to-all and all-ages cross country foot race to take place in New England. You certainly don’t need to be a world champion to enjoy the day, with 3 and 5 mile races for adults, and a 1 mile race for children.
Read below for information about Boston weather in October (Photo credit – boston-discovery-guide.com)
Boston weather in October
Occupying the position as Boston’s second shoulder period of the year, October also sees the fall foliage at its most vibrant. That said, the days are now noticeably shorter than they were during the summer, and temperatures make a steady decline, so that you’re unlikely to experience anything higher than 61°F (16°C). The amount of rain fall is still slightly lower than other months, at just over 3 inches.
Boston events in October
You no longer have to head to Germany itself for this festival of German-ness, with Oktoberfest celebrated in full force in Boston. There are dedicated events right across the city where you can enjoy a stein of beer, bratwurst, and even traditional Bavarian music.
Head of the Charles Regatta
This major two-day rowing event attracts teams and individual athletes from some of the world’s best rowing nations. Spanning three miles of the river, there are plenty of vantage points to make use of, with most of the crowds heading to the area around the Anderson and Weeks bridges.
Perhaps the festival which epitomizes modern US culture more than any other, Halloween is as big a deal in Boston as it is elsewhere in the country. For the spookiest of days, head to nearby Salem, home to the famous witch trials, where aa re-enactment takes place alongside seances and other otherworldly events.
Read below for information about Boston weather in November (Photo credit – boston-discovery-guide.com)
Boston weather in November
There’s no hiding the fact that Boston in November gets pretty cold. Sometimes getting cold enough to see snow, daytime highs just about linger in the acceptable range at 52°F (11°C), while nights come close to freezing. Rain fall heads in the opposite direction. The 4 inches that falls in November makes it the second wettest month of the year.
Boston events in November
Originally a way of giving thanks to God for the year’s harvest, Thanksgiving Day takes place on the fourth Thursday of November. A federal public holiday, it is a time to spend with friends and family, and enjoy the traditional foods of roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie to finish.
Boston Comedy Festival
75 comedians head to Boston’s 8 venues for 32 shows over 5 days. There are comedians you’ll recognize at the top of their game and some that are sure to become household names in the coming years, but whatever else happens, you’re sure to have a fantastically funny time.
Read below for information about Boston weather in December (Photo credit – boston-discovery-guide.com)
Boston weather in December
If November avoids the snow, it will definitely begin to fall during December, which can see up to 9 inches fall, alongside a chill 3.5 inches of rain. Temperatures day and night are never far away from freezing, with highs of just 41°F (5°C) and lows that can hit 28°F (-2°C).
Boston events in December
Boston Common Tree Lighting
Start the festive period as you mean to go on by joining the crowds on Boston Common to see the tree lighting ceremony. Donated to the city each year by the Canadian city of Halifax in Nova Scotia, the lighting up takes place a little after 6pm.
Re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party
The single most important individual event that led towards the American War of Independence, you can see an accurate representation of how the Boston Tea Party developed at the Old South Meeting House and Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum on December 16, the day of the ‘party’ in 1773.
Boston’s New Year’s Eve celebrations fall under the rather confusing title of First Night. Entertainment, including live performances, are centered around Copley Square and Back Bay, with the festivities coming to a climax with the city’s midnight fireworks.
What is the best time to visit Boston weather wise?
Boston’s east coast location means the best time to visit the city weather wise is almost certainly the summer months of June to September. Not only do these months have the warmest average temperatures – peaking in July at 86°F (30°C) – but this month is also able to boast the longest day of the year. There’s the promise of at least 12 hours of daylight and sunshine, while rain fall levels are no worse than at any other time of year.
To avoid the worst of the heat or humidity for those who prefer it a little cooler, the best time to visit Boston weather wise are the city’s two shoulder periods, either at the beginning of spring in April/May, or into fall at the end of September and earlier in October.
Final thoughts on the best time to visit Boston
Boston’s weather is certainly variable, with the depths of winter seeing 10 inches of snow cover and temperatures lurking around freezing even during the day, while the summer months experience very decent temperatures and spectacular levels of sunlight too.
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Emma Johnson lives to travel! Born in Washington D.C., Emma is a hotel connoisseur and a staff writer at Hotel Jules. An army brat, Emma got the travel bug early and has never been able to stop. Now, she has proudly visited 70+ countries and plans to visit every country in the world! Passionate about her ukelele (obviously) and her family, Emma eventually wants to retire in Thailand and write a book about all of her travel experiences.