Spring is upon us in New England and outdoor live music events will be taking place over the next few months. We have compiled a list of the best outdoor music venues in Massachusetts.

Like many other major markets, the great Boston music scene has a systematic approach to which size venue a particular artist will play when they roll into town. There are not many outdoor spaces that match the exact capacity of another venue in the area. We have a large capacity outdoor venue that come in the form of stadiums and amphitheaters. Deep within the seaport district, there’s a harborside pavilion. Then, adventuring out a bit, there’s a haven within the Berkshire Mountains and a backyard venue (yes, really, a backyard) on the south shore that is booking major national names.

Venturing out

To compile this list, we had certain criteria that would qualify the location to be a potential top outdoor concert venue in Massachusetts. First, it has to be an in-state destination as opposed to in New England. It has to be a venue that is aligned to major tour stops and ticketing platforms. Lastly, it must offer the ability to actually watch the show outside under the open-air sky.

It’s important to note that ground-hosting festivals sites as a one-off weekend or standalone event would not qualify. For example, the Harvard Athletic facilities where Boston Calling weekend takes place once per year.

Those that did rank open for the season starting in late May. Before we get into the list, let’s give an honorable mention to the Cape Cod Melody Tent and South Shore Music Circus (who are sister venues). They were not considered as part of this list due to the fact that although there are open air spaces, you are technically covered under the tent for the duration of the show.

Alas, let’s build some excitement for all of the outdoor concerts coming our way this season and take a look at the best outdoor venues in Massachusetts.

  • #6 Xfinity Center, Mansfield

    What was once Great Woods and the Tweeter Center always gets a plethora of major national tours. It’s your standard amphitheater experience that does not have any local feel in terms of your outdoor environment. This season opens with a bang as Janet Jackson comes to town on May 19th. From Chris Stapleton to The Cure to Snoop Dogg, Xfinity’s 2023 calendar is filled with big names. However, the fact that getting out of the parking lot at the end of the night usually takes longer than the concert, is the primary reason it sits at number six.

  • #5 Gillette Stadium, Foxboro

    Yes, this is the home of the New England Patriots and Revolution about 45 minutes outside of Boston. However, this stadium is the spot for many of the year’s biggest tours. Taylor Swift kicks off a three-night run on May 19th. Luke Combs, BeyoncĂ©, Bruce Springsteen, Ed Sheeran, Billy Joel, Stevie Nicks and Metallica are the other major acts taking the Gillette stage this year. Though the atmosphere is electric, a Patriot Place surrounding the venue helps ensure that the experience feels like you’re in a stadium.

  • #4 Fenway Park

    Sticking with the professional sports theme, Fenway Park has become a Boston landmark for summer concerts in addition to baseball. It’s an ideal location that neighbors the new state-of-the art MGM Music Hall. Regardless of who is performing, seeing a show upon the outfield grass of this historic venue is always an experience to behold. Kane Brown kicks things off on June 23rd, followed by Dead & Company, P!NK, Fall Out Boy, Morgan Wallen, Zac Brown Band and Guns N’ Roses.

  • #3 Levitate Backyard, Marshfield

    The Levitate Music Festival is always a summer weekend to circle. This same small business has an outdoor venue attached to their surf shop. It’s literally in the backyard. The capacity is a perfect 200 ticket limit, providing an intimate music experience at every show. Food from their in-house Mexican restaurant is available, as is their homemade canned Margaritas. Furthermore, the Levitate Backyard venue attracts major national acts like Trevor Hall, Citizen Cope, G.Love, Ripe and Matisyahu.

  • #2 Tanglewood - Koussevitzky Music Shed, Lenox

    This is an excursion out to the Berkshires that is worth every minute of the drive. You’re free amongst nature in a landscape of green pastures. The outdoor shed gets a variety of special tour stops each summer. Brandi Carlile spoke very highly of the place while performing there last year. James Taylor, Robert Plant, and Train are just some of the names on tap this year.

  • #1 Leader Bank Pavilion, Boston

    The setting is simply breathtaking. A nice evening you are under blanket of stars, dancing to music within a venue that rests right upon the Boston Harbor. You get a cool, salty breeze off the shoreline and have the option to roam out from under the shed. Every note is audible in the fully outdoor spaces and there is clear visibility to the state. It opens on June 2nd and runs nonstop until the season closes at the end of September with Hozier performing.

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