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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.


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

  • Gyms with cardiovascular equipment, weight rooms, and exercise classes
  • Intramural soccer, basketball, and volleyball (not available for Pre-College Program)
  • 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.


Students may participate in a variety of musical opportunities, including the Summer School pops band, chorus, and orchestra. Watch a video about the various musical opportunities offered during the summer.

Harvard Summer Pops Band

The band, led by Director of Harvard University Band and Wind Ensemble Mark Olson, is open to all brass, woodwind, and percussion players from both Harvard and the Greater Boston area, regardless of age or experience.

Auditions are not required. Interested musicians may register here or come early to the first rehearsal with instrument and, if possible, a music stand.

Rehearsals are Wednesdays in Sanders Theatre from 7:15 to 9:30 pm, starting June 24.

The ensemble will perform two concerts. The first on July 23 at 4 pm in Tercentenary Theatre, Harvard Yard, and the second on July 26 at 3 pm at the Hatch Memorial Shell in Boston.

For questions or more information, please call (617) 496-BAND (2263), see the Harvard Summer Pops Band website, or email

Harvard Summer Chorus

The chorus, founded in 1936, is led by Andrew Clark, Harvard University’s Director of Choral Activities. The ensemble is open by audition to Harvard Summer School students and Greater Boston community singers. The Summer Chorus performs masterworks each year with a professional orchestra and soloists in Sanders Theatre. This year, the ensemble will present Antonín Dvořák’s cantata The Spectre’s Bride, opus 69.

Auditions for Summer School students will be held in the Music Building – Paine Hall, classroom 5, from 2 to 5 pm and 6 to 9 pm on Sunday, June 23; and from 5 to 9 pm on Monday, June 24.

Final decisions on acceptance into the chorus will be made for all singers after the conclusion of auditions on Monday, June 24, and will be announced shortly thereafter via email.

Rehearsals are Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7 to 9:30 pm, in Sanders Theatre, starting Tuesday, June 25.

The culminating performance is scheduled for Friday, August 2, at 8 pm, in Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall.

Visit the Harvard Summer Chorus website or email for more information.

Harvard Summer School Orchestra

The Harvard Summer School Orchestra is currently in its thirty-fifth season under the direction of Judith Zuckerman. Orchestral musicians of all ages are invited to audition. A Harvard affiliation is not required, and there is no fee for participation but participating musicians must be available for the entire Summer School term. The orchestra comprises approximately 60 players and performs works from the classical repertoire. This year, the orchestra will perform Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, as well as other pieces TBA. For more information, please email

The orchestra forms anew each summer and therefore has openings for all orchestral instruments. Returning players must re-audition.

Harvard does not provide instruments on loan. Musicians are responsible for bringing their own instrument (with the exception of piano and large percussion). Those who may be coming to Cambridge for the summer and cannot bring their own instruments when they travel may be able to rent an instrument from an area music store.

Auditions will be held on a first-come, first-served basis in Memorial Hall, room 029, from 6 to 9 pm on June 23; from 5 to 9 pm on June 24; and from 5 to 9 pm on June 25. Audition requirements: one prepared piece (auditionee’s choice—anything you love to play and feel you play very well without accompaniment) and sight-reading excerpts from our planned program. The whole audition lasts no more than eight minutes. If your chosen prepared piece is long, please select a short section or sections that you feel best display your musicianship. It is not necessary to memorize your audition piece.

Rehearsalare from 6:30 to 9 pm, in Sanders Theatre, on the following dates:

  • Friday, June 28
  • Mondays, starting July 1
  • Friday, July 26

The performance is scheduled for Saturday, July 27, at 8 pm, in Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall. Musicians will have a 6:30 pm call rehearsal prior to the performance.


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 at the Activities Fair on Opening Weekend. Trips are scheduled throughout the summer, mainly on Saturdays.


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.