Cities all over the world are taking part in open air festivals. These festivals are a chance for the streets to be open to people, an opportunity to share resources, and a place to come together to transform a community. Closing streets and creating a safe space to bike, walk, run, hula hoop, dance and be active gives the community a chance to get to know each other and to get to know the parts of the city they were unaware even existed.
Boston isn’t the only city to pursue an open street festival. In fact, this tradition began in Bogotá, Columbia, and has embedded itself in diverse, active cities like San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Since 1976, Bogotá began closing 75 miles of street for festivals and holidays. Realizing how valuable this tradition was, this opportunity quickly became weekend events that regularly attract 2 million people. Among these people are yoga teachers, aerobics instructors, musicians, and performers who engage and entertain the festival-goers in an array of different activities. These festivals bring together individuals from varying ethnic, religious, and social backgrounds. Festivals like CicLAvia in Los Angeles and Open Streets Minneapolis Ciclovía aim to engage the neighbors and local businesses while promoting healthy and sustainable transportation around their cities.
Much like the Ciclovías which have come before, Boston’s Circle the City open street festival seeks to engage communities by taking advantage of the beautiful open space of Boston, bringing healthy physical activities to different communities, drawing foot traffic past local businesses, and raising awareness about sustainable, alternative transportation. While I heard about this event through the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, this is a collaborative project utilizing the skills and passion of the Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness, LivableStreets Alliance, Boston Park Advocates and the City of Boston. These reoccurring events will be free to all and include activities like yoga, aerobics, dance, health checks, and farmer’s markets.
So, if you aren’t already convinced to spend a beautiful day outside, you should think about what open street festivals mean for your city. Your city is a reflection of who you are. We want Boston to be thought of and remembered as a vibrant beautiful city with talent from chefs, bikers, runners, skateboarders, hula-hoopers, dancers, musicians, artists, yogis, and farmers alike. Open street festivals reflect Bostonians healthy lifestyles, their dedication and love for their community and the innovative and progressive mindset that brings millions of visitors each year.
Boston is a city of deep racial and cultural divisions, and it is part of the Future Boston Alliance’s mission to bridge these gaps. Our diversity is one of Boston’s greatest and least-known strengths, and it is only through coming together as a city that we can fully harness our power to create lasting change.
– Margo, Future Boston Intern