Headed to Boston Calling? Here's what you should know

A beach ball floats over the crowd during Pussy Riot's performance at the 2018 Boston Calling. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A beach ball floats over the crowd during Pussy Riot's performance at the 2018 Boston Calling. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

It’s been 10 years since Boston Calling’s first festival, and after all the iterations since then, you’re likely familiar with our local Coachella. But if you’re new to this space or you simply need a refresher, here’s your guide. And yes, at the time of publishing, tickets are still available.

Weather, travel and parking

Fortunately for people who like the sunshine, this weekend’s weather in Allston is expected to be mostly sunny in the 70s and 80s during the day and cooler at night, mostly in the 50s, but on Friday evening, the temps dip a bit lower into the high 40s. (Read WBUR meteorologist Danielle Noyes' full forecast here.) For people who want to recreate the epic rainfall of Swift’s performance in Foxborough on May 20, sorry, you’ll have to enjoy the nice weather instead.

As for parking, there is no on-site parking available, so if you’re coming from outside of Boston, your best bet may be public transportation. Otherwise, be prepared to pay pricey fees at private parking lots. If you’re coming from outside of Boston, you can take the commuter rail and make your way to the Boston Landing Station, which is a little over a mile away from the entrance. If you’re coming from within the MBTA’s map, take the red line to the Harvard Square station. For those who just use a map app, plug in “65 N. Harvard St., Allston, MA” for the main entrance.

Your wristband

This little fashion statement is both your ticket and your payment method at the festival. Boston Calling is making an effort to go cashless this year, and they’re recommending registering your debit card to your wristband for speedy and easy payment.

The lineup: what stages and when

Foo Fighters, The Lumineers and Paramore will close out Friday, Saturday and Sunday (respectively) at the fest, and there are many other notable national acts during the rest of the day as well — too many to note in this post without leaving someone’s favorite out, but I'll still give a quick overview. The National, Alannis Morissette, The Flaming Lips, Queens of the Stone Age and more will grace the stages this weekend. Jack Antonoff, who performed at the first Boston Calling ten years ago as part of the band Fun., will now be returning as Bleachers. (The Dropkick Murphys have also joined the lineup after the Yeah Yeah Yeahs announced they would have to cancel due to an illness in the band.)

Boston locals will also get their time to perform for the crowds. 2022 NPR Tiny Desk Contest Winner Alisa Amador will be the first act to open the festival on Friday. WBUR’s Jacob Garcia recently spoke with Boston-based The Q-Tip Bandits about what this festival means to them.

For a complete schedule, check out the post below. Note that Friday’s lineup has been updated with Razor Braids performing on the Green Stage at 2:20 p.m., the National shifting their slot to 7:05 p.m. on the Happy Valley Red Stage, and the Dropkick Murphy’s taking the 5:55 p.m. slot on the Green Stage.



Culinary lineup

If you liked the food at Boston Calling last year, you’re in luck, because many of the same vendors will be making a return. There are plenty of options for bites and beverages, including those seeking hydration, aka water stations, or Twisted Tea. See below for more details and a certain photo of a hand-crafted gyro.


Show me the map


Boston Calling critiques

The conversation about who Boston Calling chooses to put onstage and who to attract in the crowds has been going on since the beginning of the festival. Where some progress has been made since its early days of a heavy male lineup, the headlining acts this year lean heavily white. For a more fleshed-out conversation about this topic, check out the May 23 episode of WBUR’s daily news podcast The Common. Host Darryl C. Murphy talks with Garcia about what a Boston music festival is and what it should be.

What to bring, what NOT to bring

Shade is limited at the Harvard Athletics Complex, so it’s wise to bring a hat and sunglasses. Here’s what you can bring through the gates, according to the Boston Calling website:

  • Sunscreen (non aerosol)
  • Hats
  • Sunglasses
  • Non-professional film and digital cameras
  • One factory-sealed plastic water bottle, empty plastic or aluminum reusable bottle or empty hydration pack (think CamelBak style water bladders)
  • Factory-sealed snacks
  • Bags smaller than 6×9 inches
  • Valid Driver’s License for will-call and for alcohol purchase alcohol

Here’s what is NOT permitted at the festival. (There must be interesting stories behind how the latter half of this list became contraband…)

  • Drugs or illegal substances
  • Lighters and tobacco products of any kind (including vape pens)
  • Weapons (or anything security deems a weapon)
  • Professional cameras & recording devices
  • Squirt guns or water-spraying devices
  • Laser pens
  • Chairs and strollers
  • Pets (there is an exception for approved service animals)
  • Bikes or personal motorized vehicles
  • Musical instruments
  • Sleeping bags
  • Umbrellas
  • Totem poles or flag sticks
  • walkie-talkies

For other questions, head to Boston Calling’s FAQ page. It has more info about lodging, lockers and merchandise that we didn’t include here.

Get hyped

Ready for the festival? Sit back and enjoy the music. Boston Calling made this handy playlist to help set the mood.


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Solon Kelleher Arts Writer
Solon Kelleher is an arts and culture contributor at WBUR.



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