Oh. My. Goodness. A massive -- and I do mean gargantuan -- performing arts festival is set to explode in Boston. The first-ever Outside the Box will take place over nine days in July and bring 200 events -- I told you it would be massive -- to the Boston Common, City Hall Plaza, and other downtown locations. The cost to indulge in this embarrassment of cultural riches: $0. Incredibly, it's all free.

There will be a wildly diverse array of performers, many of whom will be homegrown, but some of whom will travel to our fair city to grace our stages. For example, the wonderful Texas-based band Los Lonely Boys, best known for their Grammy-winning hit, "Heaven," will help kick off the first day of the festival with their unique blend of rock, blues, and Tejano. For my money, the trio of brothers represent some of the best musicians performing today, particularly guitarist Henry Garza, whose fluid, yet muscular style is a wonder to behold. (Of course my money would be worthless at the festival, since Los Lonely Boys and all of the other acts will be performing for free.) Other musical performances will include the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Ricky Skaggs, The Lemonheads, John Michael Montgomery, and Buffalo Tom. I told you it would be wildly diverse. And did I mention it would be free?

It won't just be music. There will be dance from performers such as The Boston Ballet and Michael Londra's Celtic Fire. Theatrical presentations will include the hit rock musical, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" (performed outside, under the stars!) and The Best of Boston Puppet Slam. There will "spectacle art" with acts such as Strange Fruit, an Australia-based band of performers who meld theater, dance, and circus all while perched on swaying, 17-foot poles. Strange indeed. There will also be an ambitious lineup of entertainment for children, a culinary stage with demonstrations from some of Boston's most noted chefs, and just because this festival is already over the top, a Boston Food Fest component that will offer tastings from some of the city's best restaurants.

The festival is one of many happenings featured in our Summer Selects...Boston listings. It's your place to discover all the great ways to celebrate the season throughout the city.

Outside the Box
July 13 to 21, 2013
Most of the performing arts events will be held at stages throughout the Boston Common
The Boston Food Fest and the culinary demonstrations will take place at City Hall Plaza

Photo: loslonelyboys.com