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Celebrate Boston’s spring savings in March

March is the time to shake off the gray and frosty tones of winter for the bright and colorful days of spring, and Boston offers enough affordable distractions to ease the transition. The popular St. Patrick’s Day celebrations warm things up with parades, concerts, and the opening of a new John F. Kennedy exhibit, while the 135th Annual Flower Show captures the spirit of spring with flowers in full bloom. Other events, like special museum exhibits and a major basketball tournament, make staying indoors exciting. Plus, since it’s not yet spring, many hotels are offering lower prices and value-added packages, making it an ideal time to visit the city. And for those who love food, the Winter Restaurant Week is a great way to sample fine dining at less than gourmet prices.

Why Boston in March?

In Boston, March is filled with festivals, exhibits, and shows, with the biggest event taking place when crowds gather around March 17 to celebrate the city’s Irish heritage. The St. Patrick’s Day festivities begin on March 11 with several concerts and last until the annual parade on March 19 in South Boston. The parade is free to everyone and has been an institution in Boston for 106 years. During this week, everyone is encouraged to enjoy a pint of Guinness and a plate of bangers and mash at one of the many pubs that offer traditional Irish fare and music. However, many pubs may charge up to a $20 cover fee, so it may be wise to keep bar-hopping to a minimum. For a more luxurious dining experience, visit the second annual Irish Food and Cultural Celebration from March 14 through 17, where participating hotels such as the Omni Parker House, Hotel Commonwealth, and Jury’s Boston Hotel offer multiple course dinners prepared by top Boston and Irish chefs for prices ranging from $60 to $150.

In the spirit of the holiday, the Museum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library will also open a new exhibit, “A Journey Home- John F. Kennedy and Ireland,” on St. Patrick’s Day. Never-before-seen documents will focus on the president’s connection to and pride in his family’s homeland. Admission costs $10 for adults. For another daytime and mily-related activity, the Irish Heritage Trail is a free self-guided tour that covers three miles and 300 years of history. Maps, as well as other information, are available at the visitor centers on the Boston Common (directly opposite 147 Tremont Street in the park) and at the Prudential Center (800 Boylston Street).

After strolling around the city, visitors will find relief from the gray reminder of winter with dozens of elaborate and colorful garden displays at the New England Spring Flower Show. It begins on March 11 at the Bayside Expo Center and lasts through the 19th. The focus of this year’s theme, “Welcome Home! Celebrating Our Great New England Landscape,” will honor native flowers and plants of New England. There’s also a garden marketplace where guests can buy gardening tools, art, and accessories. Tickets are $20 for adults.

Those looking for aesthetic inspiration may also want to drop by the Museum of Fine Arts to view David Hockney’s portraits in early March. Boston is the first city in the United States to exhibit this British artist’s work. Similarly, the Museum of Science is hosting the world premiere of the “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” exhibit through April 30, which will feature artwork, props, models, and film clips. Admission to the Hockney exhibition is $22 including general admission and allows for one repeat visit to the museum within 10 days. The Star Wars exhibit costs $20 and also includes entrance to the general areas. Buy tickets in advance for both exhibits as reservations tend to fill up quickly.

Another event worth planning ahead for is the first Boston Winter Restaurant Week from March 5 through 10. For these five days, 90 of Boston’s landmark restaurants offer set menus for a discounted price of $20.06 for lunch and $30.06 for dinner. Visitors will have the opportunity to sample some of the finest dining in the city for a dramatically reduced price. For example, lunch at the upscale Oak Room at the Fairmont Copley Plaza ranges from $18 to $25 an entrée, while their restaurant week special costs only $20.06 including appetizer, entrée, and dessert.

Although the NCAA’s March Madness marquee event doesn’t technically happen in March this year, it’s important to make note of it. The NCAA Women’s Final Four will take place for the first time in Boston on April 2 at the TD Banknorth Garden. Harvard University and Northeastern University will host the event, celebrating 25 years of NCAA Women’s Final Four and the centennial of NCAA. Although tickets are officially sold out, Ebay and Craigslist might have a few available for purchase.

For more Boston events during March, visit the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau. Tickets listed above are for standard adult admission. Senior and children tickets are typically available at reduced prices.

Boston March Savings

Besides the many activities, March also offers hotel rates that are significantly less than in the summer and fall. In addition to already lower prices, many hotels are offering package deals as an extra incentive to visit during this time. The Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau has launched Warm Winter Specials in which more than 60 hotels in the greater Boston area provide a discounted night’s stay for $79 to $229 per night with breakfast. The Chandler Inn Hotel for instance, regularly costs $139 a night without breakfast in March, but only $99 with the Warm Winter Special.

Other deals include added extras such as the “Hockney” package offered through the Millennium Hotel that comes with two tickets to the Hockney exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, breakfast for two, and a superior room for one night starting at $179. If you don’t want the museum tickets, rates for the Millennium Hotel start at $149 with the Warm Winter Special, and $139 for a standard room without a package. The Chandler Inn has a similar package starting at $125 per night.

For those visiting Beantown during school break in March, the Fairmont Copley Plaza is offering the “Family Adventure” package, which comes with accommodations for four, four general admission tickets to the Museum of Science and to the New England Aquarium, a complimentary copy of Around Boston with Kids, and valet parking starting at $365.

Also, the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Tower has a flower show package that includes two tickets to the show, afternoon tea at the Swans Café, a floral arrangement in the room, and one night stay for $235. The Warm Winter Special rates start at $149 per night.

For more hotel packages, visit the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau website.

Just because the groundhog predicts spring will hide out for a little while longer doesn’t mean it’s time to hibernate. Boston is challenging the winter weather with fresh flowers, art, fine dining, and parades. And with so many events and packages to choose from, it’s guaranteed to be a trip filled with plenty of excitement at a pleasant price. For more tips and strategies on how to save in Boston, read the Boston Travel Guide.

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