Celebrating Irish Culture in Lowell

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, there will be plenty of events celebrating Lowell's Irish community. Experience the wonderful celebration filled with food, live music and dancing!


Lowell Irish Cultural Committee will host their 35th annual Lowell Irish Cultural Week. Events scheduled include concerts and movie nights. On Saturday, March 10th, the Committee hosts a Dinner Dance featuring live music by the Silver Spears Irish Band and the annual Lucky Leprechaun $5 raffle. Tickets for the Dinner Dance are $39. On Sunday, March 11th, enjoy a free event at the Lowell Lodge of Elks featuring Traditional Ceili Dancing, or Irish Folk Dancing. For more information on Lowell Irish Cultural Committee and their events, click here.


This year, Cobblestones celebrates their 24th St. Patrick’s Day with style and the luck of the Irish. On the day of honor, March 17th, they will host “St. Paddy’s Day at O’Cobbletsones.” The menu will feature the traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner, along with drink specials.


There are also many other establishments that will be having live entertainment and classic Irish dishes. Fuse Bistro will have live music from 2-6 PM on March 17th, along with their house cured corned beef and cabbage. Garcia Brogan's will celebrate all weekend opening at 8 AM on the 17th to serve Irish breakfast. They will have a live show of traditional Irish music from Tom Courtney starting at 12 PM, and Whiskey Tango at 9 PM on the 18th.  For a city restaurant guide, click here.


To wrap up a weekend of fun, join us for the kick off of the Wellness on the Walkways series! This urban hike is free and from 2-4 PM on Sunday, March 18th. The meeting point of this two mile walk along the Merrimack River is at the Lowell National Historic Park Visitor Center at 246 Market Street. For more information, click here.

Lowell in the Movies

Hollywood isn't the only place where movies are made. The city of Lowell has provided the setting for some great movies with its historic buildings, cobblestone streets and scenic views. Between 'Professor Marston and the Wonder Women', 'Proud Mary' and 'The Fighter', the last few years have been great for filmmaking in Lowell.

Next time you go to the movies, keep your eyes peeled: you might see some familiar sights!


The Invention of Lying

Outsiders might not realize 'The Invention of Lying' was shot in Lowell, but to Lowellians there's no mistaking the landmark architecture featured in the film.  Central Street, the Merrimack River, City Hall, The Dubliner, the Cox Bridge, are some of the Lowell landmarks featured in this fantasy romantic comedy written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson. Gervais was quoted as saying he chose Lowell because "it looks so good on film". Go watch it now if you haven't!

The Fighter

There's a big difference between scenes from a movie shot in Lowell and a genuine "Lowell movie." The Fighter, definitely fits the second category. A look at the early years of boxer "Irish" Micky Ward and his brother Dicky, who helped train him before going pro in the mid 1980s, the movie takes place on location in the Mill City. Its boxing matches were shot at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, and gym scenes at Arthur Ramalho's West End Gym, one of the real-life facilities where Ward had trained. Cupples Square, East Merrimack Street and Top Donut are some of the other Lowell locations shown in the movie.


Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

The movie, directed by Angela Robinson, is a biographical drama about American psychologist William Moulton Marston, who created the fictional character Wonder Woman. Crucial period exteriors were shot in downtown Lowell. "We were fortunate in all these locations were run by incredibly generous historians and curators." says production designer Carl Sprague. "Even the location of the Marston house in Lowell belonged to Seth Cooper of the Tsongas Industrial History Center. All these people were as excited as we were to bring life to a past that is so beautifully preserved in these places."


Proud Mary

Last year crews descended on the city to film scenes for Screen Gems' action thriller "Proud Mary", starring Taraji P. Henson. Proud Mary tells the story of Mary, a hit woman working for an organized crime family, whose maternal instinct is awakened when she meets a young boy. In the film you'll see glimpses of actual Lowell locations: Palmer Street, Central Street and Moulton Avenue for scenes shot inside WCAP Studios, and Bridge Street over the Merrimack River. 

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School Ties (side note) 

If you remember 'School Ties',  Dana's Luncheonette on Gorham Street had a major part in the opening credits, plus some additional scenes were filmed inside the now defunct market.

Winterfest Returns to Downtown Lowell

Winterfest weekend is here! Come visit us Friday and Saturday, February 23rd - 24th, and spend some fun time with your family and friends! There will be plenty to do for all ages creating memories that will last for years to come.

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Friday, February 23rd is the opening day of Winterfest, beginning at 5 o’clock. The official opening will start at 6:30 PM with the procession of the King and Queen of Winterfest. From 5-9 PM, there will be a craft beer showcase. The Winter Market as well as live music opens at 5:30 The Lodge that will continue throughout the night. The ice rink and bouncehouses will be open, and both nights will feature a fire show from The Fire Gypsy.

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Saturday's events will begin at 11 AM with the Chocolate Festival at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church and the Winter Market. There will also be a soup competition at the Masonic Center from 12-3 (or until the soup runs out!) The Family Fun Zone opens at 12 PM and will be located in the JFK plaza along with the ice rink and bouncehouses which will be open from 12-9 PM. You will also have a chance to take pictures with the King and Queen of Winterfest and Lowla Bear.

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Both The Lodge and The Cabin are heated tents and will create magical winter beer gardens. The Lodge will be located in JFK Plaza and have multiple restaurants and food trucks to enjoy. The Cabin will be located in Lucy Larcom Park and will have live music, 5 local food trucks, craft beer from local breweries and a wine bar from Lowell’s own Tutto Bene Wine Cellars. For more information on any events happening this weekend, click here.

February Fun: Activities adults and kids will enjoy

With school vacation coming up, we know how hard it can be to come up with ideas and activities to keep kids occupied throughout the day and the week. Fortunately, this coming week Lowell will have plenty of events happening for adults and kids to enjoy so there is no need to worry about becoming bored! 


February vacation is here, but there is no need to worry about how to keep the kids busy!  Lowell Kids Week takes place February 19th-24th. During the week there will be nearly 50 free programs for children. Some free events do require a pre-registration, but the events that do not are first come first served. Some events to expect are the Lowell Kids Week Family Festival, which will include activities, giveaways and kid-friendly workshops. Other programs allow kids to draw and build their own architectural designs based on the National Park, or create their own musical instruments.  There is a full schedule of all the events here.


The iconic basketball team the Harlem Globetrotters will be at the Tsongas Center on Sunday, February 18th. This uniquely talented team has been entertaining kids and adults alike since 1926. With the game starting at 1 o’clock, the Globetrotters will face a revamped Washington Generals Team. The Globetrotters will showcase ball handling wizardry, unbelievable trick shots, rim rattling dunks and unequaled fan interaction. The entertainment does not stop there! After the game, team members will sign autographs and take photos with fans. For tickets, click here.


A great way to end vacation would be to join us at Winterfest! There will be plenty activities for children and adults. There will be ice skating on JFK Plaza (with free skate rentals). The rink is open on Friday February 23rd from 6-9 PM, and Saturday, February 24th from 12-9 PM.  The rink allows 40-50 people at a time. There will also be bounce houses open from 5:30-9 PM on Friday, and from 12–9 PM on Saturday. The Family Fun Zone will be open from 12–4 PM on Saturday on JFK Plaza. This area will include giant games, drawing tables and a craft area. Also on Saturday, Silly Sally will be performing a show for kids starting at 2 PM in the Lodge. Silly Sally will be doing balloon twisting, a puppet show, storytelling and more! For a full schedule of Winterfest, click here.


Looking for family fun all year? Look no further than the Luna Theater! Every Sunday, the Luna Theater hosts the “Magical Mystery Movie Club.” This event shows movies that are always rated either G or PG, and starts at 11:30 AM during The Farm Market. The theater is left a little brighter than usual, so families can feel free to come and go. The movie is never revealed before showing time and is not only for kids but the young at heart as well!

To keep up with all the different events happening in Lowell, click here for the events calendar!

Valentine's Day...lots to love!

We know how hard it can be to plan an evening out during the week, but you don't have to wait until the fourteenth to celebrate your love here in Lowell! There will be plenty of events around the city starting this weekend for you to enjoy by yourself, with your valentine and even a girls night out.


Still searching for the right gift to give your special someone? Or maybe you just want to spoil yourself? You can do both while supporting local artists! On Saturday, February 10th, there will be a pop-up shop, Love Sick at Western Ave at the Loading Dock Gallery, 122 Western Avenue. It will be open from 12-5 PM. This event is kid friendly and will be filled with local artists who have created beautiful, unique, handmade gifts. Also on February 10th, don't miss Love Buzz V at Mill No. 5. This event will be held from 12-4 PM and features two floors of amazing vendors for you to find just the right gift for your special someone!

 Image: Fanpop

Perhaps a classic movie is the way you would want to celebrate with your valentine. The Luna Theater will be screening the classic romantic-drama Casablanca on Sunday, February 11th. This 1942 Academy Award winning film will be showing at 2:05, 5:05, and 8:05. So no matter what kind of day you want to plan, whether it be to enjoy a nice brunch or dinner, check out our directory of restaurants in Lowell. You'll be able to go back in time 76 years and enjoy a thrilling movie with your valentine.


On Valentine's Day, UnchARTed will be hosting a Valentine's Day Story Slam. This event will consist of people sharing their stories of love and heartbreak. If you want to share your story, signups start at 7 o'clock, but if you would rather just go and listen and meet some interesting and inspiring new people, the event itself starts at 7:30 PM. There will be music, food and drinks to enjoy as well.


Looking for an event for a girls night out? Look no further than Tutto Bene! On February 15th, they'll be be hosting a Gal-entine's Day. This will be a floral arrangement class paired with a complimentary wine tasting. The event starts at 6:30 PM. Call your girls and get your tickets so you can all create beautiful floral arrangements while spending quality time together. Tutto Bene Wine and Cheese cellars is located at the rear of 58 Prescott Street.

If You Love Pizza, Lowell is Your Place!

Nothing is as satisfying as a hot pizza fresh from the oven when you're hungry. Whether you prefer a classic or gourmet pie, the oooey gooey cheesy deliciousness of pizza is hard to beat. Thankfully, Lowell, with its many spots, doesn't disappoint. In fact in Lowell we make pizza an art form. Warning: mouth watering content ahead! 

For a directory of pizza places in Lowell please click here


Tremonte Pizzeria

Tremonte Pizzeria is a casual Italian spot specializing in Neopolitan thin-crust, hand-tossed pizza cooked in a stone hearth oven at over 700 degrees. This method produces a thin crust that's strong enough to hold classic toppings such as roasted peppers, onions, and sausage. If you prefer something a little bit more gourmet they have plenty of choices - from shrimp scampi and meatball & ricotta to cheeseburger. (Yes, a cheeseburger with all the fixings on a pizza.) 


UnchARTed Gallery

You don't expect your mouth to start watering when you walk into an art gallery, yet this is exactly what happens when you set foot inside UnchARTed Gallery on Market Street in downtown Lowell. While their menu offers a delicious variety of sandwiches, soups and salads, the pizza really stands out from the rest. The Mushy Goat comes topped with marinated mushrooms, spinach, goat cheese and garlic olive oil. Another great choice is the Evil Piggy. A spicy pizza topped with pulled pork, ham and bacon, drizzled with cilantro and avocado buttermilk ranch. Can't go wrong.


Fabiano's Pizzeria & Cafe

Fabiano's Pizzeria and Cafe is a cornerstone in the Lowell community and has been recognized for its outstanding Pizza cuisine, excellent service and friendly staff. The Prosciutto Arugula (a pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto and baby arugula) is a must, but so are the calzones and house specialties. The casual seating area is perfect for a quick bite, but if you want pizza to-go, order online and pick up a fresh pie in store. 


Espresso Pizza

Espresso Pizza is a Lowell institution. This family-owned pizza joint serves an amazing variety of pies and slices including breakfast pizza, Hawaiian and meat pie. They still continue to use the original recipe for the pizza dough and pizza sauce since first opening the doors in 1962, which is what makes Espresso so unique. The combination of the "sweet" tomato sauce and the saltiness of the cheese makes for an incredibly tasty pizza, a favorite of locals and visitors alike.

Phoenix Rising

Phoenix Rising Pizza

Serving Lowell and the surrounding areas, Phoenix Rising Pizza is a family owned and operated wood fired mobile pizza truck that turns out delicious Neapolitan-style pies. They make all of their pizzas with traditional ingredients such as tomatoes, flour, olive oil and cheese all from Italy. The wood fired oven gives it that signature crispy, bubbly texture, perfect to pile on a load of specialty toppings. Their hours and locations are always changing so please follow them on Facebook to get the weekly schedule.

Warm Up with Art, Culture and Food

The Bomb Cyclone has hit Lowell this week and while this is bound to create problems for drivers and residents, it is also an opportunity for adventurous locals to bundle up, go out and find ways to have fun in the city. From open studios to new theatrical productions, there's a lot to like about 2018!

 Image courtesy of Merrimack Repertory Theatre

Image courtesy of Merrimack Repertory Theatre

Merrimack Repertory Theatre's KNYUM

From January 10th to February 4th, the Merrimack Repertory Theatre will run the world premiere of KYNUM. Written and performed by Vichet Chum, the son of Cambodian immigrant parents, the one-man play tells the autobiographical story of a guy working the night shift at a New York hotel and going to class by day, downing cups of coffee as he tries to learn Khmer, the language of his family's home. In the process he will awaken to parts of his heritage, both beautiful and excruciating, which shine through only in his wildly luminous dreams. 

Tickets and times available here.


Start Your New Year With Art at Western Avenue

What better way to acquaint yourself with Lowell's art scene than to visit Western Avenue Open Studios, this Saturday, January 6, noon to 5 p.m. This monthly event gives people a chance to browse through unique studios and chat with artists in their environment. Visitors can expect to see a wide range of art including jewellry, ceramics, textiles, paintings, sculpture, printmaking, photography and many other media. 

For more information on other galleries and museums click here.


Shop Local and Fresh at the Farm Market

The Farm Market at Mill No. 5 begins the new year on January 7th. Local and fresh produce, baked goods, home and body care products and much more are available on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, visit the Farm Market's Facebook.


Enjoy Local Dining

Take refuge from winter weather in the many local restaurants and coffee shops. With plenty of places to choose from, this is the perfect time of the year to explore new dining opportunities and revisit old time favorites. From casual to fine dining, the Lowell food scene has it all!

For a directory of restaurants in Lowell please click here!

Snow Fun in the City

Now that the first snow of the season has fallen and the city is covered in a blanket of white, there’s a few ways that you can make the most of the change in weather and enjoy fun times ahead.  From taking walks to sledding, there’s plenty to do in the city after the snow falls.


Take a Walk on the Waterways:

The city’s waterways can be a great place to enjoy a walk in the snow.  The Lowell National Historical Park’s Waterways give you four distinct trails.  Start with the Heritage Hike and explore the history and culture of the city’s storied “Acre” neighborhood.  Then, walk the Redevelopment Rove where historic mill complexes and canalside spaces are now vibrant neighborhoods.   Next, there’s the Waterpower Walk along which lock chambers, gatehouses, turbine pits and dams celebrate the innovations that changed modern industry.  The longest trail, the Riverwalk Ramble, allows you to take a stroll along the Merrimack River and see the views from the Boott Cotton Mills to LeLacheur Park.  Look at the park’s trail map for more information.


Enjoy Recreational Activities in the State Forest:

With over 1,000 acres to explore, the Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest is a splendid location to take a hike or do more outdoor recreational activities in the snow.  Through 6 miles of trails, you can enjoy hiking as well as other activities such as trail running, snowmobiling, skiing and more.  There’s plenty of sightseeing to do as well, with views of ponds and wetlands providing a scenic panorama of the regional woodland.  Forest animals from beavers to deer can also make an appearance so the trail is also great for nature photography and can serve as inspiration for artists as well.  To see the full possibilities, the trail map offers more information.

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Go Sledding and Snowshoeing in Neighborhood Parks:

New snow brings fun activities that the whole family can enjoy and neighborhood parks are the perfect places for recreation.  If you’re a fan of sledding or snow tubing, Shedd Park on Rogers Street and the Christian Hill Reservoir are locations to enjoy this fun activity with friends and family.  With over 50 acres, Shedd Park offers plenty of space for such activities and can also serve as a source for other recreational fun such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.  

So, these pastimes can present new traditions to enjoy winter weather and help you discover other recreational opportunities in your local neighborhood parks.


Other Fun Activities:

Live performances are an entertaining way to enjoy the snow for those looking for other forms of recreation.  Plus, the city’s social scene calls for a night filled with laughter, joy and company.  So if you’re looking for humor, Mondo Monday returns to The Luna Theater on December 18th and The Hearing Room introduces their first ever Amateur Comedy Night on Friday, December 29th.  For more entertainment, there’s also the Acoustic Bluegrass Jam this Friday, December 15th and the Great American Songbook on Sunday, December 17th at The Hearing Room where acoustic instruments and traditional jazz are featured.

Four Festive Ways to Celebrate the Holidays

The holidays are an exciting and joyful way to spend time with family and friends and rejoice on all of the wonders of life.  Whether you’re looking for fun activities or you’re still looking for the perfect holiday gift, there’s much to do in the city this time of year.  Here are four festive ways to celebrate the holidays:


‘Tis the Season for Holiday Movie Classics!

Watching movies is a great way to enjoy time with family and friends.  Not only can these films bring you joy, they have the ability to bring out the holiday spirit in anyone.

Step out for a night in the city and enjoy Ralphie Parker and his family’s holiday adventures in the 1983 classic A Christmas Story which will be playing at The Luna Theater on Sunday, December 10th.  Clarence gets his wings in It’s a Wonderful Life at the Pollard Memorial Library on December 15th and at The Luna Theater on December 16th.  Don’t get stuck "Home Alone" and catch Chris Columbus’ beloved comedy classic at The Luna Theater on December 24th.

 Photo by Meghan Moore

Photo by Meghan Moore

Celebrate with Music and Theater

Traditions such as music and tales about discovering the marvels of the season are great opportunities to enjoy the holidays and make new memories.

Running from now to December 24th, Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s A Christmas Carol is a holiday classic that is bound to bring out the festive in anyone.  There’s more holiday fun for all ages on Saturday, December 9th at the Pollard Memorial Library for Jingle Jam.  Then, experience orchestral entertainment on Saturday, December 9th at the Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra Holiday Concert.  If you’re looking for more local orchestras, join the UMass Lowell String Project’s Winter Showcase on Thursday, December 14th.  There’s also the 2017 Holiday Pops Tour, coming to the Lowell Memorial Auditorium on Sunday, December 17th, that captures the magic of the holidays with their signature Sleigh Ride and other classic holiday music.


Deck the Halls with Art and Treasures

The arts can be another great place to look for inspiration.  The various shows and receptions available not only provide you with a look into the local art scene, but also enhance your holiday experience with activities that can become new traditions.

Join Western Avenue Studios (WAS) for their Holiday Open Studios on Saturday and Sunday, December 9th and 10th for endeavors that include browsing art, speaking with artists, and purchasing unique gifts.  The Arts League of Lowell is displaying their Holiday Treasures Members’ Show reception on Saturday, December 9th where special holiday-themed art treasures can be purchased.  Loading Dock Gallery’s show, Winter Lights: Gifts for the Holidays, will run to Sunday, December 31st and features hand-made products from soaps to furniture.  There’s also Ayers Loft Gallery’s Peace on Earth members’ show reception on Saturday, December 9th.  This show, which will run to Thursday, January 4th, is a reminder of the joyful times ahead while shining a light on local artists and their work.

 Photo courtesy of The Vintage Witch

Photo courtesy of The Vintage Witch

Walkin' in a Crafty Wonderland

Holiday-themed markets offer creations from local artisans that might change the way you do holiday shopping and prepare for festive times, and can help you find new activities to incorporate into your holiday traditions. 

Unique gifts and art from over 30 local artists are available at WAS’ Handmade Holiday Shopping Night on Thursday, December 14th.  Then there’s The Holiday Oddity Market on Saturday, December 9th at Mill No. 5 where you can find gift options for that someone on your holiday gift list with an eccentric taste.  Do some lunchtime shopping at The Brush Art Gallery and Studios on Friday, December 15th for Soup and Shop and enjoy complimentary soup while browsing through the available art and other creative products.  Then, on Saturday, December 16th, Mill No. 5’s It’s a Wonderful Market has more vendors of vintage, handmade and artisanal goods that are perfect for the holidays.

Local Holiday Shopping Guide 2017

Shop local for the holidays, it’s a great way to get your holiday shopping done early and help small businesses grow.  Here are some recommendations of local stores where, from health and beauty to miscellaneous goods, there’s no shortage of great gifts that you can buy for loved ones this holiday season.


Health and Beauty

If you know of someone who loves natural soaps, body butters, balms and other health and beauty products then this section is for you.

Take a trip to Mill No. 5 where you’ll find the Red Antler Apothecary which carries delightfully scented soaps that smell as great as they look along with body creams, balms, shampoos, scrubs and more.  Next, take a trip to Western Avenue Studios where Eir’s Garden offers Scandinavian-inspired soaps, lotions, creams and salves.  Finally, check out Mack Soaps for a variety of hand-made products such as soaps, aftershave, eye creams and lip balms.  These shops showcase the natural and local health and beauty products that are available to you and make great holiday gifts.


Music and Records

Music is an essential source of entertainment for many of us and a passion for aspiring musicians.  If you have someone on your gift list that enjoys music, check out the following.

The Tone Loft at Mill No. 5 has great gifts for friends and family including new and used instruments as well as music lessons in guitar, percussion and vocals.  Near The Tone Loft is another fine shop for local music enthusiasts, Vinyl Destination.  This record store stocks vinyl records in a variety of genres.  If you’re interested in more records, there’s always Garnick’s Records on Middlesex Street where you’re likely to find records from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s ranging from classical to jazz to rock and psychedelic music. Just around the corner on Central Street is RRR Records, a used and new record shop where you'll find plenty of hidden gems. For a music lover, these stores present a chance to discover new music or a fun gift idea for more casual shoppers.


Art and Jewelry

The city is filled with artistic talent, and local artists and jewelry makers provide art scene gift options. So, if you’re looking for locally made art products, here are some ideas.

At Van Gogh’s Gear on Market Street you can find art supplies such as brushes, paints, drawing tools and more.  If you know someone who is interested in learning, take a trip to The Cogitation Zone in Western Avenue Studios (WAS) and learn how to make pottery at one of the classes offered.  Also at WAS, there’s Lush Beads offering finished jewelry pieces, custom designs, and private lessons in beading. Also don't forget to check out Lush Industrial's fun and funky unisex jewelry made with new and repurposed hardware.  Lowell’s local museum gift shops can also help you find a special gift.  Check out the shops of the New England Quilt Museum and the gift shop at the Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center.  Whether you’re looking for it or not, the city’s art scene can be a great place to find a unique holiday gift this season.


Miscellaneous Goods

Looking for other gift ideas?  Whether you’re seeking the perfect gift or you’re unsure what to get someone, the choices that these shops provide can inspire you to find something great to gift someone this holiday season.

At Mill No. 5, visit Crose Nest and discover botanical herbs, teas, stationary, jewelry and more.  Next, stop by Bon Vivant where you’ll find an array of goods such as clothing, jewelry, candles, matches and chocolate.  Sweet Pig Press carries all sorts of stationary including journals, holiday cards and banners. On Middle Street, stop by Rogers Pool Patio & Toy Co. for a variety of games, puzzles, dolls, activities and other options.  With these shops, you’re bound to find a locally sold gift that will make someone on your gift list all that more joyful this holiday season.

Lowell Fall Dining Guide 2017

By Life As A Maven - It seems that as soon as Fall arrives we all want soup, a nice warm drink and comforting food. Throughout the fall and winter in New England the flavors go between pumpkin to maple to peppermint to sage and any other myriad of seasonal combinations you want to make. In dining out, many restaurants come up with a fall/winter menu that compliment the flavors of the season and this makes it exciting for me as a food writer/blogger because I love trying new ways the flavors can be incorporated into new dishes.


Take a Bite Out of Local Flavors

What makes the Canalway Cultural District a dining destination? The history in Lowell is rich and along with eating a great meal you can take in some of the surrounding sites such as the Whistler House Museum of Art, The New England Quilt Museum or the National Streetcar Museum. Because Lowell is a walkable city the restaurants and things to do around them make for a great day outing or a full weekend trip. 

Some great new restaurants have opened up recently and with this in mind I wanted to share a dining guide of my favorite spots (both new and old) to check out in the Canalway Cultural District of Lowell.

Let's get started!


Cobblestones of Lowell is a historic restaurant that brings American classics to life while also providing modern takes on favorite dishes. 1981 Ramen Bar is Lowell's only Ramen spot. It offers big bowls of savory broth, noodles & toppings, great drinks & a fun atmosphere that makes for a great dining experience.


Fabianos Pizzeria & Cafe is not just a pizzeria - they take American classics like pizza, burgers, pasta and more to a different level by incorporating Peruvian flavors. Mandarin Asian Bistro  offers delicious sushi, as well as hot dishes that make this spot ideal when you can't make up your mind - they also have great drinks and live music on the weekends.


El Potro Mexican Bar & Grill  serves fresh, delicious Mexican food in a welcoming environment. Everyone is friendly and there is always something yummy to eat. Same is true for Lowell Burger Company which is new to the food scene in Lowell. LBC takes burgers and makes them exciting - and that special sauce is to die for! 


Fuse Bistro is a delightful restaurant that makes delicious, unique dishes while incorporating local flavors. Their drinks are interesting, delicious and the atmosphere is always warm. Same holds true for Lowell's other new place, Warp & Weft which cooks up international comfort food. With a complete redesign of their restaurant it makes this the new go-to.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Great Girls Portrait.jpg

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.


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. 


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


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.


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. 


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!


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.


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.


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!


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!


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.