Open Newbury returns this weekend for its biggest year yet

Open Newbury in 2021. (Neslihan Sahinkaya/City of Boston)
Open Newbury in 2021. (Neslihan Sahinkaya/City of Boston)

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It would be an understatement to say Newbury Street, with its eight blocks of restaurants and shops, tends to attract a lot of foot traffic.

You can find everyone from long-term Boston residents to gaggles of suburban teenagers to tourists from across the globe on its narrow sidewalks — often all brusquely squeezing by one another.

But soon, there will be more room to roam.

Starting tomorrow — and continuing every Sunday through October 15 — Newbury Street is going completely car-free, as part of this summer’s bigger-than-ever Open Newbury Street series. The annual event closes seven blocks of the street to cars, inviting pedestrians to take over the road to enjoy food, shopping and programming meant to encourage community building and family-friendly fun.

Boston first piloted Open Newbury in 2016, slowly expanding the program in the years since — from a single Sunday to three to six to 16 straight Sundays this year under Mayor Michelle Wu.

Newbury Street will be car-free from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. — from Berkeley Street to Mass. Ave — each Sunday through October 15. (City of Boston)
Newbury Street will be car-free from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. — from Berkeley Street to Mass. Ave — each Sunday through October 15. (City of Boston)

“We’re making them every weekend so that people don’t have to check a calendar in advance,” Boston Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge told WBUR’s John Bender. “They can just know that if they come to Newbury Street on a Sunday, it’s gonna be closed to cars and open to people.”

And it’s not just Newbury.

Following last year’s Open Streets events in Roxbury, Dorchester and Jamaica Plain, there’s more pedestrian-friendly programming on the way this summer. East Boston and Allston-Brighton are set to host Open Streets events of their own for the first time, too.

While each event varies slightly by neighborhood, you can expect to find music, games and food trucks; kids’ activities like face painting, balloon animals and crafts; pop-up shops from local businesses; and plenty of space to bike, run and walk safely from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the following dates:

Though the shutdowns may serve as an inconvenience to drivers, officials champion the benefits of these community events.

“Our streets can do more than just move people from A to B,” said Franklin-Hodge. “Families and neighbors get to explore their communities in new ways and enjoy a safe, fun environment for walking, biking, and recreation.”

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Hanna Ali Associate Producer
Hanna Ali is an associate producer for newsletters at WBUR.



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