If Somerville Open Studios is the city’s main event to showcase all of the amazing visual artists living and working here, PorchFest is the music equivalent of that. This large, decentralized music festival was started in 2011 and is back this Saturday, May 16 from noon-6 p.m. (Rain date is Sunday, May 17.)
As the name implies, PorchFest is an event where musicians in a variety of genres–from rock and blues to punk and hip-hop, to name a few–play outside throughout the city. It’s completely free and with well over a hundred acts slated to hit various stages, you’re bound to find something to love.
PorchFest moves across the city in waves starting with the streets in the east running to Central Street from noon-2 p.m., then moving to between Central Street and Willow Avenue from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. and then heading west of Willow Avenue from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. The best way to find out where to go when is with the Somerville Arts Council’s handy map. And if that’s not working, try this list of PorchFest performers or this list of PorchFest performers.
How to do PorchFest Like a Pro
Plan your day. Like Somerville Open Studios, PorchFest is spread across Somerville from end to end. We like to start by getting lunch (or packing a picnic) and listening to bands playing in the first block while slowly making our way across the city. It’s fun to pick a few bands you really want to see then just wander to catch other acts.
Make a plan for getting around. Your best bets for successful, low-stress transportation during PorchFest are traveling on foot or by bike. You can certainly drive if necessary, but half the fun of PorchFest is catching a few notes of music then walking/biking until you find its source.
Meet up with (and make new) friends. PorchFest is a true community day, making it perfect for meeting up with friends, whether you travel the city together or join forces on and off throughout the day. And don’t forget to chat with other people listening to the music with you–they’re probably really nice and also love Somerville!
Come prepared. Wear sunscreen, drink a lot of water and wear comfortable shoes. Check the forecast and bring whatever you think you’ll need for a fun day. Being prepared for any scenario means you’ll have more time and energy for taking in the music.
Eat out and take breaks. PorchFest is a super fun, but also long, day. The key to sticking with it the whole time is to stay well fueled and take breaks. The Beat has three years of archives detailing the best places to eat in Somerville to help you decide where to pitstop before, during and after PorchFest.
A Look Back at Past PorchFest Events
We can’t find any 2014 re-caps, but absolutely loved last year’s event and remember it being a beautiful day.
In 2013, we brought our family along for the PorchFest ride and they loved it.
P.S. In addition to the official PorchFest event, there are often post-PorchFest events and other fun festivities happening the same day. You can find details on our calendar.