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Activities, Athletics, and Museums

Harvard Summer School students who attend in person will live and learn in beautiful Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass. Located just outside Boston — and a destination in its own right — Cambridge and its surrounding areas have plenty to offer. 

Whether you want to find ways to stay active in your down time or are looking to fill your weekend with sightseeing, here are some activities you may be able to participate in depending on your Harvard Summer School program and schedule.

Athletics

There are many ways to remain active around campus. Harvard offers extensive athletics facilities, including:

  • Gyms with cardiovascular equipment, weight rooms, and exercise classes
  • Free play opportunities for sports like soccer, basketball, and kickball
  • Swimming pools
  • Basketball, volleyball, tennis, and squash courts
  • Fields for soccer, softball, and touch football
  • Rowing through the Weld Boathouse on the Charles River

Visit the Harvard Athletics website or call (617) 495-3454 to learn more about athletic facilities and resources.

Music

Harvard Summer Chorus

The Harvard Summer Chorus, founded in 1936, will be led by Alyson Greer Espinosa in Summer 2024. The ensemble is open by audition to Harvard Summer School students, Harvard affiliates (ID holders), and members of the community, including local high school and college students.

Sign up for the Summer Chorus by filling out this form. Summer School students will audition live in Sanders Theatre on June 25. High school students, college students, and community members will submit a video-recorded audition. Visit the website for more information on auditions.

Rehearsals: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7 – 9:30 p.m., in Sanders Theatre, starting Thursday, June 27.

Performance: The culminating performance is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Friday, July 26, in Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall. There will be a dress rehearsal on Thursday, July 25.

Please visit SingAtHarvard.Com/HarvardSummerChorus or email HarvardChoruses@GMail.com for more information.

Harvard Summer Pops Band

The Harvard Summer Pops Band, led by Director of Harvard University Band and Wind Ensemble Mark Olson, is open to brass, woodwind, string and percussion players who are part of the Harvard Summer School community. We also invite area woodwind, brass and percussion players to join us for the summer. 

Auditions: No formal audition is required. However, summer school students are welcome to meet the director on Tuesday June 25 from 4:30 – 7 p.m. at the Office for the Arts to find out more about the ensemble. At the first rehearsal musicians will have the opportunity to select the part they feel the most comfortable playing. Students can submit an application for the Summer Pops Band using this link.

Rehearsals will be Tuesday evenings from 7:15 – 9:30 p.m., June 25 through July 23 in Sanders Theatre.

Performance: The ensemble will hold a performance on Sunday, July 28 in Sanders Theatre at 3 p.m.

For questions or more information, please call (617) 496-BAND (2263) or email MEOlson@fas.Harvard.edu.

Museums

Enrich your summer experience by exploring the collections, exhibits, and history found inside Harvard’s many art, science, and cultural museums.

Most major Harvard museums are free for you and one guest with a valid Harvard ID card.

Around Boston

In addition to Harvard libraries and museums, the city of Boston, across the Charles River, has many cultural, historic, and scientific institutions to explore. Dance, music, and theater also flourish. The Boston Pops Orchestra gives free concerts each summer on the Esplanade along the Charles River, and there are a number of parks and trails in the city.

Activities for High School Programs

If you’re a high school student admitted to either the Secondary School Program or the Pre-College Program, you’ll also be able to participate in activities with your cohort, organized by the Harvard Summer School team. 

See what types of activities are offered during these programs:

Activities for Adult and College Students

Summer Servers

Summer Servers contacts area nonprofits to determine the number of volunteers needed at the organizations throughout the summer weeks. This collaboration provides opportunities for Summer School students to give back to the local community through time spent on activities like sorting food at the Greater Boston Food Bank, serving a hot meal at a soup kitchen, or helping to set up an arts and food festival.

Students sign up for volunteer expeditions with Summer Servers through the Student Activities office. Trips are scheduled throughout the summer and occur Thursday through Sunday.

Writing

Harvard Summer School students can contribute to the Harvard Summer Review, a literary journal published once a year that highlights student work written in Harvard Summer School writing courses.

The Summer School hosts a number of readings from popular and local authors, including Harvard faculty, around Harvard Square. This year, authors Rachel Kadish and Jessica Shattuck discuss On Nazis, Art, and the Question of Forgiveness: Two Novelists Confront the Legacies of Their Families on Monday, July 15 at 6:30 PM and author Christina Thompson will read from her new book Sea People: The History Behind Disney’s Moana on Wednesday, July 17 at 6:30. Both events will be held at the Barker Center’s Thompson Room. On Friday, July 19 at 7:00 PM, author Daphne Kalotay presents Blue Hours: A Novel in conversation with Rishi Reddi at the Harvard Bookstore in Harvard Square. All three events are free and open to the public.

In addition to faculty readings, the Harvard Summer Writing Program is also hosting two film screenings. The Reader: Film Screening and conversation with Bernhard Schlink will be held on Tuesday, July 23 at 6:30 PM. Love Comes Lately: Film Screening and talk-back with Director Jan Schütte will be held on Wednesday, July 24 at 6:30 PM. Both films will be shown at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard Film Archive Theater at 24 Quincy Street and are free and open to the public.

The Harvard Summer Writing Program also offers a series of workshops on topics such as Writing the College Application Essay and Using Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism.