Looking Back at the Origin of City of Lights

As the annual City of Lights Parade and Celebration approaches on Saturday, November 25th, I spent an afternoon at the UMass Lowell Center for Lowell History and looked through Father Armand "Spike" Morissette’s collection of documents from the early days of the City of Lights Parade. What began as a project and symbol of “Faith in Lowell” has now become an honored tradition for the city’s community and the beginning of holiday season festivities.  Below are some of the events’ traditions that began in the 1950s and have evolved into today’s celebration.


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Lighting the City

The City of Lights organizers wanted to demonstrate the vibrancy and joy of the holiday spirit and decided there was no better way to do so than to light up the city with lights.  Lighting of public buildings, monuments, stores and homes was encouraged.  The lights would not only fill the streets with local residents enjoying the brilliant display, but also bring people from neighboring communities to experience the beauty of a city glowing in light.   After a hiatus and a decline in the number of lighting displays, the City of Lights theme was resurrected in the late 1980s/early 1990s through a partnership between the city and private businesses.  Some 50,000 new lights and unique decorations were installed.  A holiday stroll grew into a holiday parade.  Nowadays, the tradition continues with an estimated 60,000 lights that bring the holidays to life and serve as the official start of the holiday season for many.  The City of Lights program from the 1952-1953 season began this honored tradition, one that is as popular as ever six decades later.


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Music and Poetry

With holiday singalongs, caroling, concerts, movies and more fun entertainment in the City of Lights Parade this year, it’s no secret that the community loves to be entertained.  The origin of the City of Lights shows that this tradition goes back to the 1950s when music and poetry defined the entertainment of the Parade at the time. Songs like “Lights On In Lowell Town” written about the City of Lights by Paul Bordeleau and Henry Fournier were the embodiment of bringing the holidays alive in the community. Poems were the other big form of entertainment, with a poem called “Christmas Lights” being printed on the back of the City of Lights 1952-53 program book.  Other poems were included in the actual event, with local poets being chosen to have their poem become the “Official City of Lights Poem” every year.


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Contests and Activities

Nowadays, the Parade includes a multitude of activities such as the Festival of Wreaths, Photos with Santa, Strolling Carolers through Downtown and more. In the 1950s, many of the activities revolved around garnering participation for the City of Lights project. Contests helped do this, especially when it came to decorating. Home decoration contests allowed the community to get involved in the celebration and to show how festive they were in decorating their home. These contests had first, second and third place plaques that were awarded. Today, downtown stores compete in a window decorating contest and eateries compete in the Hot Chocolate Competition.  It’s delightful to see how the activities have grown through the years and how the spirit of the early City of Lights program continues today and displays Lowell’s love for holiday festivities.

Fall Activities and Fun Things to Do in Lowell

By Yanicel Martinez - Already mid-fall, a great time to get creative, take in some great entertainment and prepare for the upcoming holidays. Below are some ideas to enjoy November.


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Get your creative juices flowing with arts and crafts and workshops.

Arts and crafts workshops are a great way to get creative.  Check out the Fall into Fun Crafternoon on Friday, November 17th and the Make & Take Craft on Wednesday, November 15th at the Pollard Memorial Library and the Arts and Crafts Night with Anabelle on Thursday, November 16th at Coffee and Cotton. can present you opportunities to exchange ideas, learn new skills and above all, socialize! Visit Western Avenue Monthly Open Studios on Saturday, November 4 where you can meet the artists and learn all about their work.


Photo Courtesy of the Moscow Ballet

Photo Courtesy of the Moscow Ballet

Treat yourself to some quality entertainment.

Fall brings a whole host of new events to look forward to. For example, attend Balefire Productions' staging of "Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet" at Gallery Z from Thursday, November 16th to Sunday, November 19th, a dinner/theater experience. Community concerts are another way to spend time with friends and family. Events such as the Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra Family Concert on Saturday, November 11th at the Lowell Catholic High School. And don't miss the Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium on November 28, a favorite holiday tradition. 


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New and classic movies sure to entertain.

Watching a film is a great way to enjoy a fall afternoon or evening with friends and family. Love hummus? Screening at the Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center on Tuesday, November 14, HUMMUS! The Movie. The Luna Theater has a variety of movie options starting with The Witches playing on Sunday, November 12 followed by Loving Vincent on Friday, November 17 and Matilda on Sunday, November 19. The Pollard Memorial Library also has its own movie night with Blush on Thursday, November 9th.


Holidays

Get into the spirit of giving by shopping early for the holidays

Shopping for the holidays has already begun! It can be exhilarating or stressful, but in the end you can enjoy it and feel excited as the holidays approach. Check out Lowell's many galleries, specialty shops and markets for old school shopping where you can see and handle the merchandise - New England Quilt Museum, Brush Art Gallery and Studios, Western Avenue Studios, For flexibility and the foodie on your list go for a gift certificate at any of Lowell's great restaurants. Community events such as the Friends of the Pollard Memorial Library Children's Shopping Day on Saturday, November 25th at the Pollard Memorial Library is a great way to shop at a reasonable price.


Canalway Cultural District Renewal

Following the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s approval for the renewal of the Canalway Cultural District designation, the city’s district will expand to include the west side of Dutton Street along the Suffolk Canal and the Hamilton Canal District from Thorndike Street to Central Street along the Merrimack, Lower Pawtucket and Hamilton Canals. The district creates a framework to spotlight artists, performing and fine arts organizations, historic preservation groups, creative businesses and events and festivals that are part of the community.


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Encompassing the heart of downtown Lowell and its canalway system, the district consists of preserved historical sites, cultural facilities, museums and galleries, performance venues, events and festivals that happen throughout the year. To facilitate moving through the district, way finder kiosks and brochures will be redesigned to include a map that highlights the district’s assets. The Cultural Affairs and Special Events office will also update the likelowell.com website with new district information.


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District goals are to sustain and support existing artists, cultural institutions and ventures as well as encourage new cultural development, economic activity and new job creation. As a result of the restoration of most of Lowell’s historic mills and buildings, the district’s promotional success can lead to the redevelopment of remaining structures. Continued success can aid in strengthening the identity of the city and celebrating its history, diverse communities, arts and culture.


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The canalway features 5.3 miles of functioning canals and were used to power the city’s mills during the Industrial Revolution. Today, the system creates electrical power as well as provides links for Lowell National Historic Park boat tours, showcases public art and can be used as a palette for special lighting of gatehouses and flowing waters. Along these canals, historic buildings and mills have been restored for commercial, residential, artistic and professional uses. Other businesses —coffee and pizza shops, restaurants, diners and retailers—are also located within the district.


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The district includes the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell Memorial Auditorium, New England Quilt Museum, Whistler House Museum of Art, Brush Art Gallery and Studios, the Lowell National Historical Park and more. District events include open studios, gallery shows and festivals such as the Lowell Folk Festival, Summer Music Series, Kerouac Festival, Winterfest and many others. Upcoming events and festivals hosted in the district are sure to continue to celebrate the creative and historic aspects that make the city a diverse hub for arts and culture.

October - Literature, Art, Science and Cultural Happenings

This month the spirit of Halloween festivities radiates through the air and various historical observations start coming to our attention. Culture also courses through the city as anniversaries and receptions celebrate the arts and the community.  Enjoy events highlighting history and celebrating arts and culture in October. Here's a sample of the events you can find on our calendar!


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Reception for Vast! Mad! Striving! Exhibit

This exhibit, part of Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Festival, opens on October 6th from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Lowell Telecommunications Corporation. It presents the work of artists in various media through the perspective of Jack Kerouac. Attendees will experience Lowell as it is today while embodying the soul of the city. Live music, poetry, art and refreshments will also be offered.


Photo by John Suiter

Photo by John Suiter

Ghosts of the Pawtucketville Night Kerouac Tour

Part of Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Festival, on October 8th, take an evening walk led by Roger Brunelle through the streets of the Pawtucketville neighborhood where Jack Kerouac spent his adolescence. The walk begins at 6 p.m. at Cumnock Hall in UML’s North Campus. Participate in readings from Kerouac’s talk-writings at the cottages and tenements where he lived and attended school. For the end of the tour, walk to Ste Jeanne d’Arc Church where Kerouac saw a vision of the BEAT-ific Generation.


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EVOLUTION Artist Reception

Sophy Tuttle’s evolution work will be showcased on October 14th from 7 to 9 p.m. at Gallery Z.  Tuttle is a fine artist, illustrator and muralist based in Boston. Join her in sharing her experiences and love for the natural world at this reception. Enjoy light refreshments and the beer and wine cash bar as view her work.

For more information, visit Gallery Z’s Facebook.


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Lowell Reads: Harvard Observatory Photographic Plates Presentation

Join staff from the Harvard College Observatory as they talk about their experience with photographic plates on October 21st at 1 p.m. at the Pollard Memorial Library. Listen to the staff recount their digitization and transcription project with the Smithsonian. Attendees will receive a special discount code for tickets to the Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s production of Silent Sky.

More information available here.


Photo courtesy of the African Community Center of Lowell

Photo courtesy of the African Community Center of Lowell

African Community Center of Lowell – 1st Anniversary Celebration

Celebrate the accomplishments of the African Community Center of Lowell’s first year of operation with the Anniversary Celebration on October 29th from 3 to 6 p.m. at Eliot Church. Experience African and American cuisine and enjoy non-alcoholic beverages. Listen to guest speaker Sarah Dryden-Peterson’s talk and learn more about the African community and culture.


Lowell’s Fall Entertainment: Music, Theater and Film Happenings

With the official arrival of fall, Lowell looks forward to the entertainment-filled events happening throughout September and October. Music, theater and film events will showcase Lowell's creative talent. These opportunities for experiencing music, theater and film are available to all ages, skill levels and those who would like to explore the many entertainment options that Lowell has to offer.


Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

UML Philosophy & Film

Starting Monday, September 25th, this free monthly film series takes place at the Luna Theater. Films start at 7:35 p.m. and are followed by a discussion with attendees and the lecturer. Explore topics such as political violence, personal identity & agency and philosophy in relation to the movies Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Prestige and Fight Club.


Photo by The Hearing Room

Photo by The Hearing Room

Mostly Acoustic Jam/Song Party

This Thursday, September 28th and every Thursday thereafter, join fellow musicians at The Hearing Room from 7 to 10 p.m. for the Mostly Acoustic Jam/Song Party. This free event is open to all ages and skill levels. Jam to the genre of your choice, whether rock, blues, bluegrass or more.


2017 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour

At the Luna Theater starting at 5:05 p.m. on September 30th, viewers will enjoy seven short films selected from this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Films range between 5 and 19 minutes long and include a variety of genres. Discover short films created by international filmmakers that are sure to entertain film buffs and inspire filmmakers.

Ticket pricing available here.


Photo by The Hearing Room

Photo by The Hearing Room

Tuesday Night Open Mic

On Tuesday, October 3rd, bring your talent to the stage at The Hearing Room from 7 to 10 p.m. for Open Mic Night. Participate in music, poetry, storytelling and comedy performances every Tuesday. People of all ages and skill levels are welcome. Participants and spectators are encouraged to bring their own works and refreshments.


Photo courtesy of the Merrimack Repertory Theatre

Photo courtesy of the Merrimack Repertory Theatre

Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s Silent Sky

From October 18th to November 12th, the Merrimack Repertory Theatre will run the production of Silent Sky. Playwright Lauren Gunderson’s play tells the true story of New England astronomer Henrietta Leavitt. This production’s themes consist of bold love, boundless determination and the vast magnitude of the cosmos. Audiences can expect a thrilling story for the heart, mind and soul, and a fun time for family and friends alike.

Tickets and times available here.


Looking into October: Creaticity Turnout, Races and Festivals Ahead

The first Creaticity: Lowell Art & Maker Festival event was a success of local art, performance, music and design. The free event featured over 50 local artists showing their work, performances, workshops, readings, writing, public walks and more. Demonstrating Lowell’s art scene, the festival highlighted the creativity of the community and the surrounding areas. To see pictures and videos from the event, visit www.facebook.com/LowellArtMakerFest/

These upcoming fall events promise to bring more fun with races and festivals celebrating art, Jack Kerouac and the Halloween season ideal for people of all ages.


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Lowell Kinetic Sculpture Race

On September 23rd, join the community of sculptors, scientists and engineers at the Lowell Kinetic Sculpture Race (LKSR). This free event will start at Market Street at 11 a.m. with racers peddling through the streets of Lowell, maneuvering a mud pit and navigating the waters of the Merrimack River before returning to Market Street at 4 p.m.

Arrive at 8 a.m. to meet the racers and see the sculptures. Enjoy live music, activities and fun for the whole family. Spectators are encouraged to wear a costume and bring a bike and helmet to follow behind the racers.

Meet Kaia, the official LKSR Mascot, and take a selfie with her for the opportunity to earn free prizes. Join racers and volunteers at Fuse Bistro on Palmer Street after the race for the awards ceremony and after party.

Shuttle service between race sites and parking will be available.


Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Festival

Celebrate the 60th anniversary of On the Road and the life of Jack Kerouac at the Kerouac Festival from October 5th to the 9th. This free, five-day event will feature poetry readings, concerts, tours, lectures, art exhibits and more. Join Lowell in appreciating and discussing Kerouac’s works with 22 events happening throughout the city.

Download the full schedule.


ARToberfest

Join the Western Avenue Studios Artist Association on October 7th and 8th at Western Avenue Studios & Lofts for the 3rd annual ARToberfest. This free event consists of two full days of art-themed activities and demonstrations featuring over 100 artists. From noon to 5 p.m., come see art demonstrations throughout the buildings, including the opening reception for “Unmentionables” hosted by the Loading Dock Gallery. Participate in fun activities for the whole family such as voting for your favorite decorated pumpkin for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to Western Avenue Studios. Enjoy local food trucks and Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream along with an on-site Craft Beer Tasting provided by Navigation Brewing Co.


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Friday Nights! – Haunted Edition

On October 13th, the grand finale of this monthly event takes place from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Mill Yard. This free event encourages you to wear a costume and enjoy the delicacies of local food trucks. Experience live music and entertainment, local artists and the Mini Beer Garden for one last time. Enjoy a night full of family fun and activities and gather with fellow foodies.


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Monster Bash

With the annual Monster Bash approaching on the 28th, the community rounds out the month of October with this free event fun for all ages. Get into the spirit of Halloween with trick-or-treating, haunted house tours, games, costume contests and more. More information about Monster Bash will be provided soon.


Fall Harvest: Opportunity for Community Growth in Lowell

By Yanicel Martinez - As the harvest season progresses, take advantage of locally grown foods and access to fresh produce. Help to preserve local farmland and support local vendors by discovering the benefits of encouraging a health community and nurturing the local agricultural economy. Experience these Lowell harvest events with food and fun for all ages.


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Lowell Farmers' Market

Pick up the best of the week's harvest at the Lowell Farmers' Market at Lucy Larcom Park on Fridays, noon to 5 p.m. tomorrow through October 13th. Find locally grown produce while enjoying live entertainment and fun activities. Also shop for meats, fish, baked goods, prepared meals and more. 


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Friday Nights! - Food Truck Madness

Food trucks, live music, local artists and artisan vendors are just a few of the highlights of Food Truck Madness. Gather with other foodies and discover the mini Craft Beer Garden this Friday, September 8 from 6 to 10 p.m. in Kerouac Park. Experience food truck cuisine and participate in fun activities for all ages. 


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India Heritage Festival

This brand new festival celebrates 40 years of the Gujarati community in New England. Join this free event on September 9 from noon to 7 p.m. at the Lowell Heritage State Park and enjoy Indian cuisine, music, clothing, jewelry, henna and more. The festival also features dance performances such as Dandiya Raas, which will be performed from 6 to 7 p.m.

For more information, visit: www.gurjar.org/event/india-heritage-festival


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The Farm Market at Mill No. 5

More local and fresh produce and food is available on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Mill No. 5's weekly Farm Market.  Discover 16+ vendors selling fruit, vegetables and artisan foods every Sunday. The event also features a live band from noon to 3 p.m. The Magical Mystery Movie Club offers a free movie at 11:30 a.m. in the Luna Theater for the whole family to enjoy.


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Harvest Festival
 

Celebrate the harvest season at Mill City Grows' 6th annual Harvest Festival on Saturday, September 16. The free event is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the North Common Park & Community Garden.  Enjoy seasonal fruits and vegetables, music, games and much more. Stop by for an afternoon of fun for the whole family with garden tours, face and pumpkin painting, local food trucks and vendors.


The Art Takeover: A Month of Creativity and Play in Lowell!

Creativity will take center stage this month as local artists and a diverse range of organizations and businesses join together to support the city's art scene with exciting community events. Gather with friends and come experience Lowell with new eyes - explore the city, meet local artists and connect with Lowell's creative community.


Photo by David Winthrop

Photo by David Winthrop

Lowell Kinetic Sculpture Race

After last year's successful turnout, the Lowell Kinetic Sculpture Race is back this year on September 23. Billed as "a spectacular racing spectacle", the event pits human-powered art sculptures against one another in a race through city streets, over a mud pit and across the Merrimack River. Artists, builders and do-it-yourselfers will bring their one-of-a-kind creation to race for victory. LKSR is the only race of this kind in New England, and not only expands the artistic diversity of Lowell, but reinforces it as a hub of innovation. 


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Creaticity: Lowell Art & Maker Festival

Creaticity: Lowell Art & Maker Festival is a brand new two-day event intersecting art, design, music, performance and public space. The free event will feature the work of over 50 local artists and makers and will highlight the character of the historic buildings on Market Street in downtown Lowell. Come and discover local art and entertainment from Lowell and beyond!


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A Little Bazaar at Mill No. 5

After a summer break A Little Bazaar returns to Mill No. 5 on September 2. This year they'll be expanding the marketplace to every Saturday of the month! 
If you like handmade, kooky and unique items, this place is for you. It's the kind of stuff you don't find in malls or big box stores. Visitors are invited to spend the day walking around the former textile mill and make exciting and fun discoveries at every turn.
 


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The Royale at MRT

If you're in the mood for the theatre, then don't miss the chance to see the new power-packed, award winning boxing drama "The Royale" at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT). The 90-minute show is inspired by the life of Jack Johnson, the first black man to fight for the title of World Heavyweight Champion. The 2013 play by Marco Ramirez has received acclaims nationwide, including the Off-Broadway run at Lincoln Center that landed Obie, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards.

More information is at www.mrt.org/Royale
 


Take a Walk on the Wild Side

As the third largest city in Massachusetts, visitors and residents alike are drawn to Lowell for good food, abundant culture, and year-round festivals and events.  A hive for outdoorsy folk that have a soft spot for the arts and culinary exploits; Lowell is quickly becoming a favorite weekend getaway for everyone.  We invite you to take a walk on the wild side with us and discover all that's to like about Lowell.


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Arts & Culture

Art lovers will find true beauty in the wild side of Lowell's art scene. From ever changing exhibits in art galleries like Uncharted or the Arts League of Lowell, one of the largest artist communities in the country at Western Avenue Studios placed in an old mill, there's a lot to like about art in Lowell. A well curated (and ever growing) Public Art collection that's accessible to everyone and plenty of galleries, make Lowell a perfect weekend [art] exploration.
For more about Art & Culture click here!


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Events & Happenings

What do you [not] do in a city that has over 2,000 events every year? It sure gets wild when artists like Sun Ra Arkestra take the stage at the largest free folk festival in the country every July, or when neighbors unite for their summer neighborhood block parties. There really is an event for everyone in Lowell. Some even refer to us as Festival City #1!
Click here for more info on events in Lowell or here for our event calendar!


Food & Drink

So you love food? We do too! Lowell is home to over 200 restaurants. From super casual to super fine dining, Lowell has that amazing selection of authentic ethnic foods that will make you want to come back every day to try a different place! 
For a directory of restaurants in Lowell please click here!


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Outdoor Fun

The "dog days of summer" are above us and there are plenty of things to explore that are part of Lowell's wild side. From Kayak and SUP rentals at the Bellegarde Boathouse to over 4 miles of beautiful river and canal walks waiting to be explored! Make it your family challenge to visit and experience one, or all, of the over 80 public parks Lowell has to offer.

The Ultimate Fall Happenings Guidebook

Lowell is a haven for artists of all types and for those seeking creative experiences in the city’s art districts.  With over 600 creatives, Lowell provides a stage for unique exhibitions and performances that are exclusive to Lowell.  Discover why There is a Lot to Like and check out Lowell's art exhibitions, movies, music and performing arts happenings this fall!

1. Music Is In The Air

Lowell is known for its vibrant year round music scene.  The Luna Theater and Coffee and Cotton in Mill No. 5 on Jackson Street are home to popular music performances including Live Jazz sessions every Thursday night.  Around the corner on Chelmsford Street, The Hearing Room is an ideal place to exercise your vocal cords every Tuesday evening at open mic night. If you're in Downtown Lowell stop by UnchARTed Gallery, a hip art gallery and restaurant featuring eclectic live music on weekends.

2. Not Your Average Movie Night

Who doesn’t love a good movie night?  If you’re looking to take a break from mainstream movies and try something new, the Luna Theater is the place for you.  The Luna Theater has movie nights throughout the week including their weekly Weirdo Wednesdays movies and new screenings of mainstream movies like A Ghost Story and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  In addition, the Magical Mystery Movie Club, a weekly movie series for children and families, runs every Sunday at 11:30 during the Farm Market

3. Cutting Edge Exhibits

Lowell has several museums that always have new and exciting exhibits to admire.  Check out the Boott Cotton Mills Museum as well as Summer Celebration of New England Quilts and Threads of Resistance on display through the first week of September at the New England Quilt Museum. Continuing all fall is the Lisa Kovvuri exhibit at The Whistler House Museum, showcasing portrait painting with a refined finish.  In addition to Kovvuri's paintings, Adrien Bisson will be presenting The Portrait Experience Through Photography.

Photo: Brush Gallery. Artist: Chrissy Theo Hungate.

Photo: Brush Gallery. Artist: Chrissy Theo Hungate.

4. Lose Yourself In The Art

As the writer Thomas Merton says, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”  Lose yourself in Lowell’s galleries this fall.   Check out new exhibits at the ALL Gallery, Western Avenue Studios and Loading Dock Gallery.  The Arts League of Lowell (ALL Gallery) is showcasing the new Fabrication of Imagination exhibit where Lowell’s rich textile manufacturing history is referenced and then updated with new, out-of-the-box, three-dimensional, textile art work.  Then, head to the Loading Dock Gallery’s newest art show: Fantastic Worlds which runs from August 30th-October 1st.  
 

5. Interactive Classes

Bring out your inner Picasso by taking a painting, drawing or sculpture class.  Lowell has multiple outlets to express your creative side including pottery classes at Derek Soohoo pottery studios or The Pottery Mill.  Or try one of the art classes offered at either Western Avenue Studios or ALL studios. If you’re the singing and musical type, make sure to check out the Hearing Room's classes that are offered all season long! 

Six Things to Do in Lowell That Your Kids Will Love

By Allison Lamey - Lowell’s rich history, compact size, and diverse mix of festivals and events make it a great city to explore with kids. I asked my kids (three boys aged 9, 6, and 2) what they like to do most in Lowell. Here are some of their favorites.

1. Music, Art, Theatre, Oh My! 

There’s no better place to cultivate an appreciation for the arts in your kids than in Lowell.
The Cultural Organization of Lowell maintains a calendar of exhibits and events that are sure to please kids of any age.  Some of our favorites include the Lowell Summer Music Series free concerts at Boarding House Park and the many community events organized by Made in Lowell.  For the budding artist in your home, many galleries in Lowell offer youth classes and you can watch artists at work during first Saturday of each month at Western Avenue Studios.  My six year old is particularly fond of the glass blowing demonstrations at Mill City Glassworks!  

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2. Free Movies

Our go to spot on a rainy afternoon is the Magical Mystery Movie Club at the Luna Theatre in Mill No. 5.  Every Sunday at 11:30 a.m. they show free movies, rated G or PG, that are unannounced until the start of the show – hence the “mystery”!  House lights are kept a bit brighter than normal and you’re free to come and go so there’s no pressure to keep active kiddos confined to a seat for 90 minutes.  As an added bonus the seats are so comfortable your little one (or you) may get in an unexpected nap.  

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3. Trolleys

Trains are a big favorite in my house so the National Park Service trolley rides are a go to activity for us.  They offer free rides between the Visitors’ Center and the Boott Mills Museum throughout the day.  For a longer, more educational experience NPS offers several guided tours, for a small fee, that delve into the history of the canals and mills that shaped Lowell.  When you’re done your little ones can make believe they’re a trolley conductor on the child-size replica at Mack Plaza.  

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4. Picnics on the Waterfront

Lowell offers several great spots to lay down a blanket and picnic along the Merrimack River.  Our favorite spots include the Vandenberg Esplanade along the VFW Highway, Sheehy Park on Pawtucket St. near UMass Lowell South Campus, and the Riverwalk behind the Tsongas Arena.  All three locations have walking paths that are stroller, bike, and pet friendly.  The Esplanade and Sheehy Park are also a great spot to watch rowers and kayakers.  

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5. The Lowell Spinners 

Lowell proudly boasts its minor league baseball team, the Lowell Spinners, and it affiliation with the Boston Red Sox.  The stadium offers great views from any seat, fun entertainment between innings, and a kids’ play area if your little ones get restless.  The affordable prices mean you can bring the whole family and still have money for peanuts and cracker jacks. 

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6. Eat!

Lowell’s growing reputation as a cultural food hub means there’s something to please everyone no matter how sophisticated their taste buds may be.  Lowell has a great variety of restaurants offering classic American cuisine and ethnic dishes representative of Lowell’s diverse population. While we have our favorites in every neighborhood our kids love to eat downtown where they can people watch until their meals arrive.  You can check out the great variety of restaurants here.  My nine year old wants to make sure I also mention that after dinner you can pick up a yummy treat from one of several downtown shops including Sweet Journey, Little Delight’s Bakery, or Sweet Lydia’s. Dessert is healthy for you when it’s made local, right?  

Summer Festivals and Fun Happenings in Lowell

While the Lowell Folk Festival may be over there are still more festival celebrations and activities around the corner to entertain you for the rest of the summer! As we enter August, visit Lowell and discover all there is to like about our city. Mark you calendars, because these activities are a great way to end your summer on a high note!

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1. Lowell Southeast Asian Water Festival

Lowell has a rich culture that enhances the city, attracting people from across the country and providing the perfect setting to preserve and share the cultural heritages of the Southeast Asian Community. Add the Southeast Asian Water Festival to your list of festivals and join in as the city celebrates the culture with endless food, crafts, performances and of course the famous Dragon boat races!

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2. Brazilian Food Festival

What's better than spending your afternoon eating exquisite traditional Brazilian food? The Brazilian Food Festival is for all the foodies out there, as it brings live music, authentic Brazilian dishes and delicious desserts for all to enjoy. Come experience Brazilian culture at this free event held at JKF Plaza. All proceeds will benefit Life Connection Center, bringing healthy meals to the homeless community.

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3. Lowell Summer Music Series

The music scene is always vibrant in Lowell as the Lowell Summer Music Series continues all summer long! Although the Folk Festival has come to an end, Boarding House Park music festivities haven't, as artists are lined up for all to listen. Boarding House Park is perfectly located near an abundance of local restaurants, so you can enjoy a bite to eat before or after the concert! Make a night with family and friends and discover why Lowell is the place to visit for a great night out.

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4. Family Festival

Every summer the Center for Hope and Healing transforms Shedd Park into a mini carnival with endless activities, food, music,face painting and more. This year's Family Festival will also include  zumba, yoga and sports. according to the Center for Hope and Healing, "This family friendly event raises funds to support survivors of abuse and serves as an opportunity to increase awareness of violence prevention education in our community." This event is a great way to have fun while supporting a great cause.

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5. Made in Lowell: Friday Nights!

Looking to celebrate the end of a long week?  Well, we have just the event that will get you outdoors and keep you entertained for hours! Friday Nights! is returning to The Mill Yard with delicious food, beautiful art, music and a beer garden. Lowell’s non-profit Made in Lowell hosts Friday Nights every second Friday of every month until October, so if you haven’t experienced this event you will definitely want to stop by! 

Lowell is a hotspot for festivals and summer fun, so come take a trip on the wild side and discover why There’s a Lot to Like about Lowell.