‘Tis the Season to Shop Local

Tis’ the season of giving and if you’re looking for some special gifts for your friends and family this holiday season, Lowell has plenty of choices for everyone. Whether you’re looking for the latest fashion or one-of-a-kind artisan gifts, here are some local holiday shopping spots where you’re sure to discover unique finds.


Photo courtesy of Dandelion District

Photo courtesy of Dandelion District

For Fashionistas

Whether you’re seeking clothing and jewelry that’s modern, retro or a little more exotic, there are some great boutiques and consignment shops in Lowell to explore for gifts for your fashion forward friends. Humanity Boutique offers a selection of women’s clothing that reflects Lowell’s hip culture and style. The shop is all about mixing pieces of different colors, patterns and textures that will complement women of all ages.

Dandelion District located in Mill No. 5 is where you’ll find very cool vintage consignment clothing including flannels, jeans, leather jackets, tees and much more. Galeria De Los Andes Boutique is a vibrant shop with alpaca sweaters, ponchos, scarves and more! The boutique is also known for their selection of fine Tagua and sterling silver jewelry.


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For Audiophiles

For your loved ones who are always talking about and listening to music, you can find great music related gifts at Lowell’s local music shops. For new and used instruments and lessons, the family owned Tone Loft located in Mill No. 5 carries guitars, bass guitars, keyboards and ukulele’s, and offers lessons in all of these instruments.

Serious music fans love their vinyls, and you can find an extensive selection of new and used vinyls of all genres at Vinyl Destination, just steps away from the Tone Loft. Every record store has their own unique inventory, so if you’re seeking a certain album or artist be sure to also check out Garnick’s Music Center and RRRecords for more options.


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For Natural Beauty Lovers

Walk into Red Antler Apothecary at Mill No. 5 and you’ll be hit with an aromatic wave of handmade soaps, bath bombs, candles and herbal blends, all of which make for great Christmas gifts. Browse their selection of personal and household cleaners or ask the friendly staff to create an herbal blend specifically for your needs. Just down the hall at Crose Nest Botanical Pharmacopoeia you can find other great gifts for the body and spirit, including botanical teas, bath soaks, face masks and more.


For Pet Lovers

Pets are part of the family too, right? Whether you’re shopping for your own pet or for a pet-loving friend, there are a couple unique shops in Lowell to stop by for gifts that animals, and their owners, can both get excited about!

At SITIZENS Animal Treats located in Mill No. 5 you will find healthy dog, cat and horse treats that are made from all natural ingredients grown at their Laszlo Family Farm. Be sure to also visit PUPS, a one-of-a-kind pet boutique and supply shop that offers stylish leashes and harnesses, custom built dog beds, specialty dog houses and a variety of pet food and toys.


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For Foodies

Mill City Cheesemongers is a great shopping destination for your foodie friends and family members. They of course carry a large selection of cheeses, but they also sell craft beer and wine, various jams, crackers, sauces and sweets. Their friendly staff can also provide you with samples and advice on which cheese matches what you’re looking for.

Sweet Lydia’s handcrafted candy shop has some great holiday selections from gourmet marshmallows, smores, candy bars, hot chocolate and much more. Their treats are available to purchase individually or as conveniently pre-packed gift boxes perfect for the holidays!

With plenty of great restaurants, cafes and eateries in Lowell you can’t go wrong with giving your loved ones a gift certificate to their favorite eatery (or one they’ve wanted to try) for the holidays!

Visit http://www.likelowell.com/food-and-drink/ for a list of Lowell’s restaurants and café’s

Holiday Happenings Coming in December

The City of Lights Parade and Celebration has sparked the holiday season, and as we move into December there are plenty of festive entertainment and shopping opportunities coming up to keep you in the holiday spirit.


Courtesy of Boston Pops

Courtesy of Boston Pops

Entertainment

On December 16th Keith Lockhart conducts the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra in a performance of their beloved Holiday Pops concert at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium from 2:30 – 4:30 PM. Audience members can expect to hear some holiday classics, several new arrangements of seasonal favorites and their signature rendition of Sleigh Ride. With holiday music, sing-a-longs, and an appearance from Santa Claus himself, the Holiday Pops concert is sure to leave you feeling merry.

The Lowell Memorial Auditorium is bringing their musical adaptation of the holiday TV classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to their stage on December 2nd at 3 PM. See all of your favorite characters from the original special including Santa, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster and of course Rudolph, as they come to life for a very entertaining holiday musical!


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From now until December 23rd, The Merrimack Repertory Theatre presents Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, a holiday play featuring several characters from Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. This warm-hearted and witty show written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon involves love letters being delivered to the wrong person and unexpected engagements being announced. Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley is holiday treat for Jane Austen fans and the entire family alike.

On December 1st and 2nd Middlesex Community College launches their new Donahue Family Academic Arts Center theater with their inaugural production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet! There will be shows at 2 PM and 7 PM both nights, so if you’re looking for a break from holiday shopping or just want to get out of the house, come see a classic love story at Middlesex Community College.


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One of the best parts about December is watching our favorite holiday movies, and the Luna Theater has us covered with several classic holiday films playing throughout the month. Upcoming shows include The Polar Express on December 1st and 2nd, White Christmas on December 2nd, A Christmas Story on December 8th and 9th, and It’s a Wonderful Life on December 15th and 16th. Enjoy these classics on the big screen!

For times and to purchase tickets visit http://www.lunalowell.com/calendar/action~agenda/request_format~json/


Holiday Shops and Markets

If you’re looking for unique gifts for family and friends this month be sure to explore the 6th annual Totally Bazaar holiday market at Mill No. 5 on December 1st. From 12 – 5 PM there will be two floors of vendors selling a wide variety of vintage, handmade and artisanal holiday gifts. On December 8th Mill No. 5 also presents their Holiday Oddity Marketplace.  From 12 – 5 PM you can find even more uncommon and unusual items that make perfect holiday gifts. Pass on the socks and ties this year, and explore the Holiday Oddity Market to find something memorable!


When shopping for holiday presents this season be sure to visit the Lowell National Historical Park Gift Shop for national park novelties, Lowell apparel, books about the city and children’s gifts like park ranger hats and stuffed animals. The New England Quilt Museum also has a wonderful gift shop with a variety of handcrafted quilts and handbags, jewelry and unique toys.

Holiday Open Studios comes to Western Ave Studios this December with four days of art exploration and shopping fun! On December 1st, 2nd, 8th and 9th from 12 – 5 PM you can browse the open art studios, chat with artists, shop for unique gifts for all budgets, watch art demonstrations and enjoy lunch and a craft beer from the Navigation Brewing Company.


On December 14th, Brush Art Gallery & Studio’s Soup and Shop Lunch Holiday Marketplace offers complimentary homemade soups while you do some holiday shopping in a gallery environment! Studio Artists are offering a 10% discount on artwork from the studios during this event, and Gift Certificates are available as well.

The following day, December 15th, the gallery hosts their Sugar and Spice Weekend Holiday Marketplace. Try some homemade cookies and explore the vibrant Studio Gift Shop for that perfect gift you’ve been searching for. There will also be Brush Studio artists on site who would love to talk to visitors about their techniques and inspirations for their creative works.

Start the Holidays off Right with City of Lights!

The holidays are just around the corner, and there is no better way to kick off the holiday season than by spending the day enjoying Lowell’s City of Lights Parade and Celebration! With a whole afternoon of planned activities and several nighttime happenings to keep the celebration going, City of Lights offers a full day of entertainment for everyone! November 24th marks Lowell’s 30th annual City of Lights celebration, and this year’s festivities are going to be better than ever!


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Things to Do

There will be plenty of fun holiday traditions to enjoy like having your photo taken with Santa and Mrs. Clause at City Hall from 1 – 3 PM, watching the classic Christmas movie Elf at the Lowell National Park Visitor Center at 2 PM, and singing along to your favorite holiday songs at JFK Plaza from 3:30 – 5:30 PM.  There will also be ice skating at JFK Plaza from 1 – 5 PM with skates available to rent for $1. The Lowell National Historical Park Holly Jolly Trolley rides will run from 12 - 3:30 and there will be self-guided tours of St Anne’s Church from 2 - 6 PM. Silly Sally will provide children entertainment including facepainting and balloon twisting from 1 - 5 PM, a puppet show at 2 PM and a magic show at 3 PM.


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Shopping

It’s never too early to start your holiday shopping, and City of Lights offers some great opportunities for buying gifts for friends and family—or for treating yourself! Children's Shopping Day at the Pollard Library is an opportunity for children to purchase gifts for their friends and family. From 10 AM – 4 PM the library will serve as a temporary shop where children can choose from hundreds of donated items that are being sold for $1 to $5, and have their presents wrapped and labeled for them by volunteers.

From 12-7 PM, explore the holiday craft market on JFK Plaza and find locally made arts and crafts, holiday foods and more.  

The Brush Art Gallery and Studios is offering a chance to win a wreath from a display of about 40 beautifully decorated wreaths. The wreaths will be displayed in Edson Hall behind St. Anne’s Church on Merrimack Street from 2 – 5 PM, and the winning raffle tickets will be drawn shortly after.


Food & Drink

Local food trucks will offer their culinary specialties at JFK plaza from 1 – 6 PM, so you can easily grab a delicious bite to eat between festivities without having to travel far. However if you are feeling up to a scenic stroll through downtown, be sure to visit the several cafés and restaurants who are participating in the popular City of Lights hot chocolate competition! From 2 – 4 PM, try free samples from each location listed on the City of Lights guide and vote for your favorite cup. Also, keep an eye out for storefronts that have been adorned for the City of Lights window decorating contest and cast your vote for the store you think looks the best!


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Parade & City Hall Lighting

The festive daytime fun leads right into the exciting main events: the City of Lights Parade and the lighting of City Hall and the Wannalancit Mills smokestack Christmas tree. Thousands of spectators line downtown streets each year in anticipation of the high-energy parade of talented marching bands, elegant holiday-themed floats, and other performance groups and local personalities. The parade will begin at 4:30 PM from Jackson Street to JFK Plaza. Following the parade, City Hall will be lit up to officially start the holiday season!

Explore Your Creative Side: Classes and Workshops to Try This Fall

By Dorian Taylor - Everyone has a creative side, it's just a matter of finding the outlet that's right for you! Fall is a good time of the year to go out and try something new while we're still feeling productive and the snowy winter has not yet arrived to send us into hibernation. With a thriving art scene, Lowell offers plenty of opportunities to not only discover professional art and music, but to create something artistic as well! Whether you're an experienced artist or a complete beginner, here’s how to get creative this fall.


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Art Classes

Many locals probably know about Western Avenue Studios unique art events and their hundreds of art studios, but many might not know that there are a dozen WAS artists who give art lessons in a variety of styles. From traditional art forms like painting, drawing and sculpting, to more modern styles like photography and mixed media, there is something for everyone to try at WAS. These classes can be altered for experienced artists or absolute beginners alike, so don't be afraid to jump in and try something new!

Arts League of Lowell also offers a stress-free, introductory class on palette knife painting November 3rd and December 1st, as well as weekly classes on drawing, painting and watercolor running November through January. Crose Nest, the home, body and spirit shop at Mill No. 5 also offers a unique painting workshop for painters of all skill levels to create watercolor, botanical paintings based on the plants in the shop!


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The Pottery Mill is a ceramic studio in downtown Lowell where beginners can try creating pottery for their first time or return to hone their craft. They offer both hand-building and pottery wheel workshops with classes held multiple times throughout the week. The class sizes are intentionally kept small to ensure that beginners have enough instruction to understand what they're doing and have a great time! The Whistler House Museum of Art and The Brush Gallery and Studios also offer art classes and workshops that will help you find your inner artist.


Courtesy of Delicious Glass Fusing Studio

Courtesy of Delicious Glass Fusing Studio

At Delicious Glass Fusing Studio you can join a small class to learn to make your own fused glass! Under the supervision of studio owner and artist Erica Noymer, the glass will be heated to at least 1,400 °F and molded into decorative plates, bowls, or whatever else your imagination can come up with!


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Writing and Music

Children and teens (grades 7-12) interested in writing can join the Pollard Memorial Library's Writers' Club. The group meets every other Friday to share their work and ideas, provide feedback to others and strengthen their writing skills. Writers working on novels, short stories, poems and memoirs are all welcomed to the meetings and no sign up is needed.


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If you've ever wanted to learn to play an instrument or if you're an experienced player looking to take your playing to the next level, The Tone Loft at Mill No. 5 sells all of the musical equipment you need and provides lessons for guitar, bass guitar, percussion, vocals, ukulele and piano. Also located at Mill No. 5 is Root Note Studio where you can find classes on songwriting and recording production.

Once you feel comfortable enough with your instrument, there are plenty of ways to play what you've learned in front of an encouraging audience. Open Mic Nights are held on Tuesdays at the Hearing Room, Thursday's at Warp & Weft and once a month at Coffee & Cotton. Also, the Hearing Room hosts an acoustic jam and sing-along every Thursday where all genres of music, all ages and all skill levels are welcomed.

Halloweekend in Lowell

Halloween weekend is finally here and there is a lot to do in Lowell! Halloween is all about scary movies, trick-or-treating, getting into costume and having a great time with your family and friends. There will be opportunities to do all of these things and more this weekend in the Mill City.


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Mill No. 5 will host the Little Pet Shop of Horrors on Saturday from noon to 5 pm. Bring your pet in costume to participate in a contest, then go trick-or-treating in the awesome shops and fill those bags with delicious pet treats!

For your scary movie fix, The Luna Theater will be showing John Carpenter’s original Halloween on Friday and Saturday night, as well as the animated film Coraline if you’re seeking a more family friendly option. Gather your family and friends for a movie in the cool and comfortable Luna Theater, and maybe arrive early to shop around Mill No. 5 before your show starts.

For show times and other films playing visit : www.lunalowell.com/calendar


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Over the weekend and through November 11th, the Merrimack Repertory Theatre will be showing a light-hearted murder mystery called Murder for Two. In this unique musical comedy, a surprise party has gone wrong and the great American novelist Arthur Whitney has been murdered. Each guest is a possible suspect, and just two talented actors play all thirteen roles in a very entertaining homage to old-fashioned murder mysteries. 


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Families are in for a treat Saturday afternoon! Kiwanis of Greater Lowell presents the annual Monster Bash and Halloween Stroll. Children and parents can enjoy trick-or-treating downtown and head to the Lowell High School for costume contests, kids' games and the Monster Bash's all ages haunted house! The bash is free to attend and will run from 12-3 PM.

To see the schedule of events and participating trick-or-treat locations visit www.likelowell.com/halloween-stroll


Courtesy of Creative Cinderella

Courtesy of Creative Cinderella

From 12-6 PM on Saturday Western Avenue Studios is hosting the Market of Mystery and Madness, a Halloween Oddity Market on their second floor where over 25 artists will be selling their strange and unusual creations. After you’ve made your odd purchases, be sure to head downstairs to Navigation Brewing Company’s Halloween Bash! From 2-8 PM there will be a food truck, craft beer, live music and a Halloween costume contest.


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On Saturday the Pollard Memorial Library is hosting Halloween Crafternoon from 1-2 PM. This event is a great opportunity for children in grades K through 4 to get creative and decorate Halloween masks and trick-or-treat bags!

To register, call the Children’s Desk at 978-674-1529 or go online to www.LowellLibrary.org – visit the Events Calendar, select your desired program and click Register.


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Halloween isn’t just for kids though, right? On Saturday night, adults (21+) can enjoy a high energy concert at Zorba Music Hall’s Monsters of Rock (Halloween Edition). Internationally touring AC/DC tribute band Back in Black will be performing accurate renditions of the band’s classic hits and their B tracks as well. The venue is attached to the Olympia Restaurant where you can enjoy Greek cuisine and wine before the 9 PM show.

To purchase tickets and see other upcoming shows at the Zorba Music Hall visit: zorbamusichall.com/events


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On Sunday, the non-profit Get There, Start Now hosts its Seventh Annual Hallows Eve 5k Fun Run and Walk! Runners, walkers, children and spectators are invited to the Lowell Lodge of Elks to join the races or participate in other festivities such as face painting, trick-or-treating, raffles and costume contests. Participants are also invited to the post-race party and awards ceremony immediately following the race.

For a schedule and more details about the event visit www.HallowsEveFunRun.com

Lowell’s Canalway Cultural District: A “Great Neighborhood”

By Dorian Taylor - Lowell's Canalway Cultural District was recently named one of this year's 15 Great Places by the American Planning Association. With a thriving art and music scene, daily cultural activities, several unique public parks, and a wide variety of restaurants, cafés and shops, it's no surprise that over 500,000 people visit the district each year. Here are some reasons to visit, or revisit, the Canalway Cultural District.


The Worker by Elliot and Ivan Schwartz (1985)

Thriving Arts Community

It's not very hard to find beautiful art in Lowell. Spread out across the Canalway Cultural District are more than a dozen public art installations that reflect the city's culture and history including the Homage to Women and The Worker statues. There are also 12 excellent museums and art galleries in the district, such as the New England Quilt Museum, Brush Art Gallery & Studios, Gallery Z Artist Co-op, the Arts League of Lowell and the Whistler House Museum of Art.

Lowell's music scene has also gained traction over the years, and today visitors and locals can find live music playing every week in the District at various cafes, restaurants, art galleries and other venues. In addition to music and fine art, theater performances are also a staple in the district. The Lowell Memorial Auditorium, the Merrimack Repertory Theatre and MCC's new Academic Arts Center are excellent venues to see musicals, comedies, dramas and music.


Lowell Folk Festival

Daily Cultural Activities

With over 100 free public and private events, performances and activities, there is always something to do in the Canalway Cultural District. Along with 20 annual festivals, such as City of Lights and the Lowell Folk Festival, there are regular live music performances, movie screenings, children's programs, intimate gallery openings, athletic events and much more.

To see an updated calendar of fun and interesting activities to do in the city visit: www.likelowell.com/calendar


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Shopping and Dining

There are 60 eateries, coffee shops, and restaurants in the Canalway Cultural District offering an extensive variety of cuisine and flavors that reflect Lowell's diverse culture. On top of a great dining selection, many of these restaurants are conveniently located within walking distance to performance venues and one-of-a-kind shopping destinations. Before or after your meal, be sure to explore the district's unique shops and check to see where live music is playing to keep the good times going.


Lucy Larcom Park

Public Parks

The District includes several public parks, each with unique landscapes and features. If you're feeling up for a walk, explore the district's Riverwalk for scenic views of the city and the Merrimack River. If you're looking for a spot to relax, stop by the Whistler House Park or Lucy Larcom Park to catch up with a friend, read a book, or just take in the views. Be sure to stop by the Lowell National Park Service Visitor Center to pick up maps, make trolley tour reservations, and plan a great visit to the city.


Intimate Music Venues: Where Lowell Comes to Listen

Whether you’re looking for a rock show to amplify your weekend, or an acoustic singer song-writer performance to enjoy with a date, Lowell has plenty of great restaurants, cafes, and other venues where you can find the live music you’re looking for.


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The Hearing Room

The Hearing Room is a friendly, casual listening room run by local music lovers where you can catch musicians, ranging from acoustic singer songwriters to full bands. Every Tuesday the venue hosts an open mic night where anyone can sign up and play. There is no entry fee, but listeners are encouraged to donate $5-10 dollars to the performers. The Hearing Room also hosts a wide variety of professional music performances. On October 12th, attend a singer-songwriter and acoustic rock show featuring Rob Noyes, Joseph Allred, and Karen Zanes.


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Coffee & Cotton

Not only is Coffee & Cotton a cozy, rustic coffee shop tucked away in Mill No. 5, but it’s also a music venue for many acoustic artists. On October 13th come see the fun loving pianist and singer-songwriter Fiona Corinne, and the nostalgic indie/emo band Louse from southern New Hampshire. The show is free, but be sure to check out the Coffee & Cotton menu for the perfect coffee, beer, wine or snack to compliment your listening experience.


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Olympia’s Zorba Music Hall

You can always find live music playing on the weekends at Olympia Restaurant’s Zorba Music Hall. On October 12th, the Joe Cocker tribute band With My Friends takes to the Zorba Music Hall stage. Doors open at 7 PM for dinner, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy some authentic Greek cuisine before the 9 PM show.

To purchase tickets and see a full calendar of events visit http://zorbamusichall.com/


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Luna Theater

Jazz is still very much alive in Lowell! The very chic and comfortable Luna Theater, located at Mill No. 5, presents Luna Sessions every Thursday night at 8:05 PM, where talented local musicians come together to perform whichever jazz songs feel right that night. Entry is free, but you’ll want to bring some money for some freshly popped popcorn or a local craft brew sold at the concession bar.


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Cobblestones

On Sundays, Cobblestones Restaurant serves brunch from 10:30 AM – 2:30 PM where patrons can listen to live music while they eat. Enjoy menu favorites while listening to different local artists every Sunday. Musicians play from 11:15 AM to 1:45 PM. Upcoming performers include: Yolanda Baker Music, Seraphina James, Katrina Marie, and Andrew Marshall Music.

To see the entire brunch menu visit http://cobblestonesoflowell.com/menu/


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Warp & Weft

The relatively new restaurant Warp & Weft has established itself as a place where the community can connect, enjoy innovative cocktails and meals made with only fresh ingredients, and listen to live music. Every Thursday night at 9 PM the restaurant hosts an open mic where local artists or bands can play in front of a supportive audience and audience members can get a glimpse of up-and-coming local talent. Warp & Weft will also host a special one year anniversary party on October 13th, featuring Ariel Strasser (Pop Singer/Songwriter, Jazz), Serial Thrillers (Pop, Rock, Alternative), Jenny and The Gents (Pop, Folk), The Blue Ribbons (Rock).

For more information on events at Warp & Weft you can visit https://www.warplowell.com/


UnchARTed

The creators of UnchARTed have reenvisioned the concept of the art gallery and created a space where locals enjoy pizza, craft beer, artwork, and live music all in the same room. This trendy spot is always bringing in new local artists and musicians to decorate their walls and play fresh music for their visitors. On October 13th, UnchARTed welcomes four artists to their gallery: The Fallen Stars, Prateek Poddar, Hunter, and Dandy Candy. The show will consist of music ranging from folk and blues to alternative rock. The show starts at 7 PM. 

To see more shows hosted at UnchARTed visit  http://unchartedgallery.com/live-music/


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The Town and The City Festival

Toward the end of October, Lowell welcomes over 50 artists to The Town and The City Festival: a 2-day music and arts festival that will take place in various event spaces, bars, cafes, and galleries throughout downtown Lowell. The performances take place on October 19th and 20th, and present a diverse mix of musical genres. The Luna Theater, Coffee and Cotton, Christ Church United, Gallery Z, Uncharted Gallery, and the Parker Gallery at the Whistler House Museum of Art will host performances for all ages, while the Zorba Music Hall, Warp & Weft, The Old Court, and Dudley’s will host 21+ shows.

For ticket information and a full schedule of performances visit https://www.thetownandthecityfestival.com/

 

The Lowell Public Art Collection: Past, Present, and Future

The Lowell public art collection that we know today began to take its shape during the 1980’s when six works of public art were installed between the years 1984-1989. Lowell native and Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas was key to this boom in public art as he sponsored several pieces and created a public art committee in 1987 to explore new ways to present public art in the city. During these formative years, the Lowell public art collection had become one of the country’s most important visual arts projects.

“Pawtucket Prism” by Michio Ihara (1989)

“Pawtucket Prism” by Michio Ihara (1989)

Before Lowell was the public museum that we know and love today, the city’s only public art consisted only of traditional monuments, statues and murals like many other cities had at the time. During the late eighties however, the city introduced several contemporary art pieces such as the “Homage to Women,” “The Lowell Sculptures,” and the recently restored “Pawtucket Prism.” Installing six public art pieces between ’84 and ’89 was an impressive accomplishment for the City of Lowell and the result was a collection of art that not only visually enhances the city, but reflects Lowell’s rich history and culture.

George L. Duncan Fountains (2012)

George L. Duncan Fountains (2012)

In recent years, the city has added several more pieces to its diverse public art collection, each having their own unique theme and relation to Lowell. With hydraulic systems playing such a vital role in Lowell’s industrial era, Enterprise Bank added a public art installation in 2012 that mirrored the cities canals, spillways, and waterfalls. The result was the George L. Duncan Fountains, which consists of three weathering steel stacks, each slightly modified to move water differently.

New Mural Decatur Way (2018)

New Mural Decatur Way (2018)

In 2016 the Decatur Way Path was established to display local artists’ murals, poetry installations and other artwork. These artists include students from 26 local schools, UMass Lowell Art Prof. Stephen Mishol, poet Paul Marion, muralists Donald Maker and Kurt Ledoux of Lowell, and artist Liz LaManche of Boston.  This blend of art pays homage to Lowell’s impressive mills and canal ways like many of the past installations do, but it represents the city’s modern culture and values today as well.

Lowell Street Piano. Art by Margo Thach (2018) - Photo Courtesy of Karen Frederick

Lowell Street Piano. Art by Margo Thach (2018) - Photo Courtesy of Karen Frederick

The latest edition to Lowell’s ever expanding public art collection is also an instrument. In October of 2018, the city unveiled its first Street Piano to support the city’s growing music and art scene. The piano was donated to the city by Lowell Resident Paul Belley, and has been transformed into a work of art itself by local artist Margo Thach. Thach has designed the piano with gold accents that capture several themes of Lowell, including a textile mill, the City Hall clock tower and images of Cambodian culture.

Concept art for “Hydro”

Concept art for “Hydro”

The development of Utopia Park located in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District has provided the necessary space for another special public art installation. Artist Nancy Selvage was chosen to create “Hydro,” a large stainless steel fixture with a fluid, abstract design that resembles Lowell’s natural waterfalls and its turbine waterfalls as well. The project is being led by the Cultural Organization of Lowell (COOL) in partnership with the city, Lowell National Historical Park and others.

Foundation of “Hydro”

Foundation of “Hydro”

Fall Art Preview: Museum and Gallery Exhibits

Fall is a great time to get out and explore Lowell's thriving art scene! From now through October and November, several local galleries and art studios will be hosting special events and displaying unique art exhibits. From painters to quilt makers, and jewelers to woodworkers, Lowell's creative community provides a wide variety of art styles that can be seen at these exciting fall exhibits.


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From September 26th through December 30th, The New England Quilt Museum, the only institute in the Northeast solely dedicated to the art and craft of quilting, presents "The Fabric Collage Quilts of Susan Carlson." This 32 piece display of Carlson's "fabric collage" technique captures her artistic evolution over three decades, and provides an abundance of color, texture and imagery for observers to enjoy. Visitors can expect to see quilts featuring portraits, birds, fish, insects, fish and a twenty-foot crocodile!


Image courtesy of LNHP

Image courtesy of LNHP

Start the season off right by visiting The Brush Art Gallery between now and November 3rd to view their commemorative exhibit celebrating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Lowell National Historical Park in 1978. A reception will be held on Saturday, September 29th from 2-4 PM, and the exhibit will feature historical items, interactive elements, and a preview of what the national park could look like in the future!


"Pine Trees at Dusk and Dawn" by artist Victoria Voner

"Pine Trees at Dusk and Dawn" by artist Victoria Voner

Two locally loved art galleries, The Whistler House Museum of Art and The Brush Art Gallery and Studios, have brought their creative minds together to collaborate on a one-of-a-kind exhibit called “Creative Fusion: The Brush at The Whistler.” This collection will feature creative works from each talented Brush artist that display their own unique style, skill, and vision. With the help of The Whistler House curatorial staff, this exhibit will be a cohesive collection of art that represent the thriving artistic community of Lowell. The show will run from September 26th to November 3rd, and an opening reception will be held on September 29th from 1-3 PM in the Parker Gallery.


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From September 27th to October 7th, Gallery Z showcases their love for their city with "The Spirit of Lowell", a collection of 2-D multimedia work submitted by local artists. These pieces will display the spirit of Lowell by depicting Lowell's rich history and beautiful buildings, and the city's favorite author, Jack Kerouac. Visit the gallery's café for a freshly brewed hot or iced coffee, and see how each of these local artists envisions the spirit of Lowell. 


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UnchARTed Gallery has been home to many unique and interesting exhibits, and their latest collection "Totally 'Normal' & Stranger Than Fiction" is no exception. This exhibit will display the whimsical, quirky artwork of Lowell artist, M. M. Moyer, and his latest limited-edition art book "An Animal Alphabet A-Z" will also be available for purchase at the gallery. This collection will be on display from October 2nd to November 3rd, with receptions and book-signings on October 4th and 6th from 4-8 PM. UnchARTed also has an in-house café, so you can enjoy pizza, craft beer, wine, or a sandwich while checking out Moyer's "Normal" art work. 


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On October 6th and 7th, Western Avenue Studios hosts their annual Artoberfest, where guests can enjoy great food from a gourmet food truck, craft beer from the local Navigation Brewing Company, and of course, an extensive display of local art. From 12-5 PM, participating artists will open up their personal studios for anyone to come admire their work, learn about their artistic processes, and purchase their artwork. With Western Avenue Studios being the home to more than 300 working artist, you can expect to meet a wide variety of creatives, such as  fiber and glass artists, jewelers, metal workers, painters, photographers, potters, printers, woodworkers, sculptors and more! 


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On October 7th from 2-4 PM, there will be a garden party hosted by the Arts League of Lowell celebrating the third season of the Gates Block Garden. Wine and refreshments will be available at this year's celebration, and the garden exhibit will feature the works of the talented scrap-metal sculptor Madeleine Lord. Her art will be displayed until October 28th, so you can stop by whenever you want to relax, and enjoy her creative collection of repurposed scrap-metal in a calming garden setting. 

Weekend Picks: What To Do and See in Lowell

There is something for everyone to do this weekend in Lowell! Whether you’re looking to go to a unique event that only comes once a year, listen to some great live music, or maybe explore a part of Lowell you’ve never seen before, we’ve compiled a list of eight exciting things you can check out this weekend.   


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PARK(ing) Day returns to downtown Lowell today! At this special event, artists and other contributors transform selected parking spaces into artistic projects and miniature parks to call attention to the need for more open space in urban environments. This year's theme is "LoWELLness", and local artists Chummeng Soun and Mary Hart will transform their spaces into artistic messages of health, fitness, and mindfulness. The event begins at 9 AM, and the art installations can be seen on Merrimack and Market Streets.


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Tonight, the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association (CMAA) presents a free showing of the Disney Pixar movie Coco for the Lowell community at 6 PM. Gather your family and friends and enjoy a critically acclaimed movie about family, community, and culture. The event will be held in partnership with the Lowell Police Department. Free food and family-friendly entertainment will be provided.


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Many locals probably know that Coffee & Cotton has great coffee and sandwiches, but many might not know that they have live music too! At 8 PM Friday night, you can listen to Lowell singer-songwriters Santi C and Joshua Lin perform live while sipping on a seasonal Latte and catching up with friends. Not feeling coffee? Try a glass of wine or one of the local craft beers they have on tap.


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The city of Lowell welcomes the Lowell Kinetic Sculpture Race back for its 3rd year! At this event that can’t be missed, contestants create all-terrain, cycle-powered sculptures capable of traveling through streets, water, mud and sand, racing against one another through downtown Lowell and out to the Merrimack river. The race begins Saturday morning at 8:30 AM at the intersection of Market Street and Palmer Street. There will be an after party and award ceremony at Cobblestones Restaurant at 4 PM.


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On Saturday, explore the historically significant Boott Cotton Mills Museum for free between 9:30 AM-5 PM. There is a lot to see at this museum, including a fully functional 1920’s weave room where you see, and hear, first-hand how cloth used to be made in the Lowell mills! There are plenty of hands-on exhibits as well, giving you a true sense for Lowell’s extraordinary industrial legacy. 


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You never know what you might find at the Vintage Marketplace at Mill No. 5, but you can count on finding something cool. In addition to the shops that are permanently fixed in Mill No. 5, vendors also fill up the hallways on Saturday to sell their vintage clothing, jewelry, art, cameras, music players, and more! The vendors will be open for business from 12-4 PM.


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Attached to the Olympia Restaurant is the Zorba Music Hall where you can find live music playing every weekend. This Saturday, enjoy the classics you love from legendary rock bands Foreigner and Journey as the tribute band Foreigners Journey blends sounds from both bands to create one uniquely awesome show. The doors open at 7 PM and the performance begin at 9 PM.

To purchase tickets visit http://zorbamusichall.com/


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On Sunday, enjoy a relaxing day shopping for fresh, local food at The Farm Market at Mill No. 5. Between 11 AM-3 PM, local vendors will be filling the indoor streetscape hallways with farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, artisan bread and pastries, locally sourced meat and eggs, and handmade craft goods. When you’ve finished shopping, unwind by listening to some live music played on the Hi-Hat stage, or join the Magical Mystery Movie Club at the Luna Theater for a free showing of a surprise, family-friendly movie at 11:30. The farmers market and free movie are held every Sunday at Mill No. 5, so you can always come back for more.

Explore Lowell Before Summer’s End

Editor’s Note:  With school back in session, September marks the unofficial end of summer and start of the fall season.  With this change comes a change in our intern staff.  We wish Michelle, our summer intern, the best as she moves on to a new position and we welcome Dorian Taylor, a senior majoring in English at UMass Lowell.  Welcome, Dorian!

With summer coming to an end, it’s time to take advantage of the last few weeks of warm weather and check out some of Lowell’s family-friendly outdoor events happening throughout September.


Image courtesy of NPS_David Byers

Image courtesy of NPS_David Byers

On Saturday, September 8, the 38th Annual Banjo and Fiddle Contest takes place at Boarding House Park from 10 AM to 6 PM. There will be music workshops, jam sessions, the contest itself, and a special performance by Sarangi Master Shyam Nepali at 2:30 PM. The contest is free for any local banjo and fiddle players to enter, and folk and bluegrass fans can attend for free as well.

If you’re looking to get out on the water one last time before the chill of fall sets in, the Lowell National Historical Park is offering free 90-minute boat tours of the Merrimack River on September 8th and the 16th. On this ranger-led boat ride, visitors will learn about how the Merrimack became a major power source for Lowell’s booming textile industry in the early 1800’s. The tours begin at 1 PM both days at the UMass Lowell Bellegarde Boathouse.


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If you enjoy walking, exploring and eating, Off the Beaten Path's guided food tours of the Canalway Cultural District may just be perfect for you! Taste and discover the amazing diversity of Lowell's food scene and enjoy the beautiful downtown with it's distinctive canals and historic architecture. The tours begin on Saturday, September 8, and will continue every Saturday through September.

For more information visit: www.offthebeatenpathfoodtours.com 


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On September 14th, Enterprise Bank is sponsoring a free outdoor art exhibit at their Merrimack Street location. The exhibit will include pieces that have been created by local youth, and depict a welcoming community here in Lowell. Take a stroll down Merrimack Street and check out the artwork that some of Lowell’s young creatives have to offer.

For more information visit: www.facebook.com/WelcomingWeekLowell/


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From 1 PM to 2 PM on Sunday September 8th, join UMass Lowell professor Bob Forrant on a scenic walk through downtown Lowell and learn about the city’s labor history. The tour is free and will explore the many fascinating stories of men and women from Lowell who worked valiantly to fight for the rights of workers. From early “mill girls” to 20th century immigrants, the story of labor in Lowell spans almost 200 years. The walk will start at the National Park Visitors’ Center, and there will be free parking available in the National Park lot at 304 Dutton Street.


Photo courtesy of LNHP

Photo courtesy of LNHP

 PARK(ing) Day returns to downtown Lowell on September 21st with this year's theme being "LoWELLness". Local artists Chummeng Soun and Mary Hart will transform selected sidewalk parking spaces into artistic projects and miniature parks with messages of health, fitness, and mindfulness. The event begins at 9 AM Friday, September 21st, and the art installations can be seen on Merrimack Street and Market Street.
 

The Lowell Kinetic Sculpture Race is back for its 3rd year! Contestants create all-terrain, cycle-powered sculptures capable of traveling through streets, water, mud and sand, and race against one another in a very entertaining race through downtown Lowell and the Merrimack river. The race will take place on September 22nd from 8:30 AM - 5 PM at the intersection of Market Street and Palmer Street and all throughout Lowell. An after party and award ceremony at the Cobblestones Restaurant.

 

 

Re-Discovering Lowell: An Intern Experience

As my time in the  Office of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (CASE) comes to an end, I am reflecting on my experiences with the City of Lowell over the past six months.  I grew up just one town over from Lowell, but never really experienced it. To me, Lowell was the Tsongas Center and the Mills. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to work in CASE, thanks to the internship program at UMass Lowell, but I am sad to say goodbye!
 


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Learning about Lowell's history throughout my school years and actually experiencing it are two completely different things! Going on a canal tour was one of my favorite things that I have done here at CASE. The Park Rangers are full of knowledge that they are eager to share with you; it is contagious! If you would ask any of my former teachers, I am sure they would say that I was not always mentally present, but the canal tour was so awesome I don't think I had the option of becoming distracted! What made it even better was that it was clear that the Rangers love what they do and really appreciate Lowell's history.


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This city is a true melting pot. All the different cultural groups make every day new, interesting, and vibrant. Most days I can hear a few different types of music; all of it unique and meaningful. The culture here allows for small businesses to thrive because the people understand the importance of tradition and self-expression. The talent that fills this city makes it so you feel like you're traveling to different countries when all you really need to do is cross the street.


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The array of cultural activities includes by music festivals and smaller music venues in the summer months. The Lowell Summer Music Series is one of the coolest experiences I have had attending a concert. I saw Mikky Ekko and Fitz and The Tantrums perform at the beginning of the summer. I was able to get seats right in front of the stage and I was mesmerized by the performances. I do not know of any other venue that provides this type of intimacy. So many people put a lot of work in to make opportunities like this available, many of them volunteers. This city has a great pool of people who want to provide good times and even better memories- I am looking forward to seeing the list of performers for next year's concert series!
 


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With my last day being August 22nd, I am glad to say that Lowell is no longer just the Tsongas Center or the mills to me. Lowell is filled with new things to be discovered every day. Whether it is art, music, food or learning about a new culture-there is always something to celebrate. CASE staff made me feel so welcomed in the office and I will miss working with them, but I couldn't ask for anyone better to really show me what Lowell has to offer.

Things to Do in Lowell Before Summer Ends

Back to school specials may be starting up, but we aren’t ready to think about summer ending just yet! There are many August happenings in Lowell that you will not want to miss out on. End your summer with a bang and celebrate, explore and make memories with us!


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On August 5th, immerse yourself in the island's warmth and traditions at the Puerto Rican Festival. From 12 PM- 10 PM, come to JFK plaza to experience more music, craft vendors, and delicious food!

Then on August 11th, The 17th Annual Blues’ N Brews Festival will rock JFK Plaza starting at 1:30 PM. The festival has decided to make Lowell its new home!  This event will feature performances by Matt Schofield, Dana Fuchs, John Nemeth and Erin Harpe. The brews will include ciders, ales, lagers, meads and more. Festival proceeds go to different charities. There will be craft vendors, food trucks, food booths, prizes and giveaways! Get more information and buy tickets here.


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The 22nd Annual Southeast Asian Water Festival takes place on August 18th. The festival runs from 8 AM – 8 PM along Pawtucket Boulevard. There will be no shortage of things to do throughout the day- food, live music and dancers, vendors and the traditional boat races. More than 60,000 people travel to Lowell to experience and preserve the Southeast Asian heritage at this annual festival.


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There’s no better place to make family memories than the ball park. Catch a Spinners game before the summer ends! Not only are the Lowell Spinners fun and exciting to watch, but Lelacheur Park has something for everybody to do! The "Foul Ball Fun Zone” will put smiles on everyone’s faces, adults and kids alike! There are carnival games, rides and bouncy inflatables. Find the Spinners schedule here.


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More music, cuisine and culture are in store at the the Brazilian Food Festival. Come experience Brazilian culture at this free event held at JKF Plaza on August 25 from 11 AM - 9 PM. All proceeds will benefit Life Connection Center, bringing healthy meals to the homeless community.


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If you have not made it on a canal tour yet, we recommended you do so! There are a few different options for tours to take, but all of them are enjoyable and provide a different way to learn Lowell’s history. You can read the first-hand experience our intern, Michelle, had here, or check out their website for more information!

As always, make sure you keep up with our calendar to stay up to date with all events around the city!


Experience Destination Lowell

Our favorite weekend of summer is finally here! The Lowell Folk Festival begins tonight with the Flag Parade at 6:30 PM and official festival kick-off starting at 6:55 PM! There will not be a shortage of things to do throughout the weekend, but if you are unsure where to start, Destination Lowell is the perfect spot! We will be on Merrimack Street with plenty of information showcasing Lowell's unique and vibrant Arts and Culture scene. Immerse yourself in all things Lowell as Destination Lowell provides the opportunity to experience the many different cultures and lifestyles that we have right here in Lowell.


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Destination Lowell higlights Lowell's rich community resources. There will be many local organizations with information on topics such as Lowell Celebrates Kerouac, a nonprofit organization the mission of which is to promote a better understanding and appreciation of Jack Kerouac's life and literature and the Lowell Cultural Council, whose mission is to promote excellence, access, education and diversity to improve the quality of life for all Lowell residents. Stop by the Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust table to meet their environmental educators, check their upcoming programming, or learn about their projects. Make sure you visit these booths and learn what makes Lowell the cool city that it is and how to contribute to making it even better!


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If you haven't experienced the creative, artistic spirit in our great city, Destination Lowell will change that for you. Keep an eye out for the "Lobster Roll", a human powered machine shaped like a giant lobster that will be part of the Lowell Kinetic Sculpture Race booth. Discover Lowell Makes, a makerspace which offers shared equipment, classes, and opportunities to teach and network. Western Avenue Studios, one of the "must see places" to visit in Lowell, will also be there. Find out what makes this artist community a destination for creatives seeking studio space in the city.


Photo Courtesy of Boston GreenFest

There will be restaurant and retail booths - Crepes and The City, Fuji Restaurant, Lowell Burger Company, All Star Lounge, Humanity BoutiqueGaleria De Los Andes-Boutique - all of which are located on Merrimack Street. There will also be demonstrations from Mill No. 5, stores such as Crose Nest, Dress and Trousers,Dandelion District. Red Antler Apothecary will transform an empty storefront into a pop-up shop for the weekend!


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There are so many ways to represent Lowell's unique, rich and vibrant cultural scene. Some additional booths that will be located within Destination Lowell are the UMass Lowell Kayak Center, International Institute of New England the Merrimack Antique Bottle Club and the Lowell Historical Society. There are many other places to experience, so make sure you come by and see us this weekend! Check out the Destination Lowell section on the Folk Festival website here.

Summer Outdoor: Energize your Mind and Body

Many organizations in Lowell provide the opportunity to get to know the city on a much deeper level. Both buildings and nature are filled with history, and you can experience it all while getting your steps in! There are multiple programs that incorporate wellness, history and the outdoors and are enjoyable for all ages!


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The Lowell National Historical Park hosts the “Wellness on the Walkways Series.” These guided walking tours allow you to discover Lowell’s waterways, explore the many different canalways and outdoor spaces that are overflowing with history. There are a variety of walks including a photography walk and a birding walk. For each walk you attend, you can get a collectible button as well!

Lowell Walks, hosted by Richard Howe is another series of historical guided walking tours. These tours are held at 10 AM on Saturday mornings, each with a different topic and tour guide. Past topics have been "Abolitionism in Lowell," "Infamous Crimes," "Downtown Architecture" and more. This is a great way to exercise and learn more about Lowell’s past.


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If guided walking tours aren’t up your alley, no worries! There are plenty more options to merge wellness and the experience of Lowell’s natural and historical beauty. The Concord River Greenway is a perfect blend of all the above. The land along the Concord River has so much to share as it has been home to many people throughout its years. There is 2,700 linear feet of path for you to walk or hike while being able to experience the white water rapids, wildlife while surrounded by nature.


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At Boarding House Park, Bija Yoga is hosting Yoga in the Park on Wednesdays from 6– 7 PM. These classes are free, but donations for local organizations are gratefully accepted. Each week Bija Yoga is supporting a different organization. The classes are offered in Kripalu style yoga which emphasizes meditation and breath work, and is appropriate for all levels of students. This is a great opportunity to practice wellness, support and get to know your local organizations and what they do for Lowell! Find out more information here.


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Another great way to experience the Merrimack River is by taking the paddle tours offered by UMass Lowell. They offer sunset paddle tours, full moon and evening paddle tours, and custom paddle tours. Tours start at $30 and are held on alternating Fridays and Saturdays from 7 – 9 PM until September 4th. All tours are guided, include equipment rental, safety/paddling instructions and are appropriate for adults and children. Check out the schedule here.


Make sure you're keeping up with the events happening all summer! Check out our calendar.

Escaping The Heat in Lowell’s Museums and Galleries

Summer is in full swing and starting to heat up! Luckily there is a lot happening in July, and there are many places in Lowell to help you escape the heat, enjoy local art, live music and more.


Photo by John Phelam

Photo by John Phelam

Through July 18th, the New England Quilt Museum has the exhibit "Beyond the Border Wall: The Migrant Quilt Project" on display. The museum is located at 18 Shattuck Street and will host two more exhibit openings this month. "H2oh!" will be open on July 11th and "Material Girls Quilt Guild Exhibition" opens on July 18th.


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The Arts League of Lowell, at 307 Market Street, has the "New England Members'" exhibit on display until August 5th. This exhibit depicts a variety of iconic images that represent New England's charm, strength and character. To compliment the New England exhibit, starting July 5th "The Tiny Brush: Botanical Paintings in Two Styles" will be on display through July 29th. These pieces highlight the beauty of nature, especially in New England.


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Picasso was right: "Youth has no age." The Loading Dock Gallery's July Show, "Artful Age"  proves the saying true. Curators Linda B. Dunn and Pamela Wamala have worked in parallel for close to a decade, leading art classes for senior centers, continuing care residences, and rehab facilities. In Artful Age, their students' work shines with joy. "Art reawakens old interests and sparks new ones," notes Dunn.The show runs July 5-29 and the opening reception is Saturday, July 7, from 4-6 PM. 


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Discover More Galleries and Museums

There's plenty of art to see elsewhere: "The Allure of Venice" at the Whistler House Museum of Art featuring works by Boston artist Walter Franklin Lansil has been extended through July 21.Stop by Gallery Z for their annual Co-op Artists Exhibition, thru July 29th.The Studio Artists at the Brush Gallery remember Deirdre McCullough Grunwald with their annual group show entitled "Reflections - Homage to a Friend". Also check out these other exhibits: Ayer Lofts Art Gallery - Opening July 7, "Invest in the Future", thru July 29.


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Other Cool Places to Visit

The first Saturday of every month, Western Avenue Studios & Lofts opens its doors and invites visitors to explore five floors of many types of arts created inside the walls. You can speak with the artists about their work, learn about their inspirations behind each piece, allowing you to further appreciate each work of art. Western Avenue Studios is located at 122 Western Avenue.


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Mill No. 5 is a great place to spend some time on a hot day. There are many unique shops with varying hours, as well as Coffee and Cotton and the Luna Theater. There is often live music at Coffee and Cotton along with a delicious food and drink menu. The Luna Theater features both old and new films and hosts live Jazz musicians every Thursday. On Sunday during the Farm Market the Luna hosts the Magical Mystery Movie Club starting at 11:30 AM. The movie is always G or PG and is never revealed in advance!


To find out more about all of the great galleries and museums in Lowell, click here.

For more events happening around Lowell, check out our calendar.

Lowell Folk Festival: A Summer Must-Do

It's that time of year again! The 32nd Annual Folk Festival will be will be returning to downtown Lowell with a full lineup beginning with the parade of flags from Lowell's City Hall Plaza to Boarding House Park on Friday July 27th, at 6 PM and then continuing with the finest in traditional music, craft and food throughout the weekend. There is so much culture to be shared and even more memories to be made; this is a summer festival you won't want to miss! 

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The Music

First and foremost, Folk Fest is a showcase for music from all different cultural backgrounds. The festival features five stages of traditional music, from Africa, Hawaii, Columbia, France, Cape Verde and much, much more! Check out the list of this year's performers on the Folk Festival website which includes a map and more information on what to expect! 


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The Food

There will be over a dozen different ethnic groups sharing their delicious cuisines. From Polish to Greek, Asian, Latin, Burmese and everything in between,  all the different aromas will be guiding you on a trip around the world without having to leave Lowell! The food booths will be set up in various locations so you are able to ignite not only your taste buds, but all your other senses while enjoying the art and music all around you.


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The Local Culture

Make sure you stop by Destination Lowell along Merrimack Street! Destination Lowell presents Lowell's vibrant culture and highlights why Lowell is a great destination to enjoy history, art and creative activities all within feet of each other. It's no secret that our Canalway Cultural District is lively and the perfect destination for a summer day. Come check what this year's Destination Lowell has to offer and experience for yourself why "There's a Lot to Like about Lowell!"


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The Artisan Crafts

The Lowell Folk Festival in collaboration with the Brush Art Gallery & Studios, presents Art in the Courtyard: an arts and fine crafts marketplace. This exciting collaboration will provide an opportunity for visitors to view and purchase some of the finest art and craft works being produced.

Art in the Courtyard takes place on Saturday, July 28, noon - 7:30 pm and Sunday, July 29, noon - 6 pm in the shaded, brick-lined courtyard between the National Historical Park Visitor Center and the Brush Art Gallery. 


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The Fun

Festival-goers are in for great fun along Shattuck Street with numerous interactive opportunities.The Lowell National Historical Park Staff will be organizing interactive crafts for all ages. Everyone is invited to try out the traditional games offered by the Recreation Department, which will include ring toss, bean bag toss, muffin tin game, and the ever popular box hockey which was invented in Lowell.


Embark on a Canal Boat Adventure

If you’ve been searching for a way to enjoy this beautiful weather and learning about Lowell’s rich history, you absolutely need to go on a canal boat tour! The tours are provided by the Lowell National Historical Park and are a great way to see how the waterways have supported Lowell’s historical development and growth throughout the years. I just so happened to go on the Working the Water Tour on one of the hottest days of the year (so far,) and it was nice to be on the water for a bit with a nice breeze!

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The tour starts on the platform outside the visitor’s center at 246 Market Street. The park ranger who is leading your tour will give an introduction about what you will be experiencing and some background information before heading to the trolley which brings you to the boat.

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Allison was the Park Ranger who led the tour I was on, and she was answering questions right from the start. Throughout the tour, Allison passed around pictures of how the canals appeared in their early years, maps of the canal system, and of the men who dug the canals or had important roles in canal history.

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Not only was the tour filled with historical facts, but we also got to see a reenactment of how the Swamp Lock gate was manually opened and closed for those passing through.  A sign with the toll prices was another piece that was really cool to see; for some reason it never occurred to me that boats paid tolls too!

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One of the interesting visuals that Allison pointed out as we were going through the canal was that one side was made with stones fitted together and the other side was made with cement blocks. The cement, a more recent improvement, was breaking apart while the stones were solid and looked like they could be just a few years old.

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The tour did not end when we stepped off the boat. Allison continued to give information about canal history and the influence and impact that it has had on Lowell. The tour ended with a trolley ride back to the visitor’s center on Market Street, which is just a short walk away from many unique cafes and restaurants, a perfect way to wrap up your day in the Canalway Cultural District. Check out the dining guide here.

Lowell Summer Music Series Experience

This past Sunday, June 17th, I went to see Mikky Ekko and Fitz and The Tantrums perform at Boarding House Park as part of the Lowell Summer Music Series. The overall experience was a lot of fun and the intimate venue made for a really awesome show.

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I went to the concert with my friend Valerie, and we were determined to get the full experience at Boarding House Park. You are allowed to show up in the morning and put your chairs and blankets down to grab your spot. Valerie and I got in line at 6:58 AM and there were about 20 people in line already. The great thing about this venue is they have different sections for guests with bigger chairs and guests with small chairs and/or blankets, so everyone is able to see the artists performing. We had brought a blanket, so were able to get a spot right in front of the stage.

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After going about our day, we went back to Boarding House Park at 6:00 PM. We quickly headed towards our spot that we had reserved 11 hours earlier, and we were happy to see that no one had moved the blanket. The people who sat adjacent to us were so friendly and kind. The atmosphere was great; everyone was just there to have a good time.  The show started at 7:30 with a Park Ranger giving a quick introduction making sure all of the sponsors for LSMS did not go unnoticed.

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Mikky Ekko was the opening act, and he and his band put on a great show. You could see that he truly loves what he does and the impact that music has on him. During one of their songs Mikky actually came into the audience and interacted with fans while performing.  After their set, we got to meet Mikky himself and his drummer, Gavin. They were so down to earth and kind- I felt like I was just chatting with some friends.

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After a brief intermission, it was time for Fitz and The Tantrums. They came onto the stage and made it very clear that we had to be up dancing and singing along with them! The crowd did not hesitate to do just that. There was a middle school aged kid right in front of us who just might be Fitz and The Tantrums biggest fan; he knew every word to every song and was dancing the whole time. It was so fun to watch him enjoying himself so much and even better to be so close to the stage and see how much fun the band was having as well. Fitz and Noelle, the singers, knew how to keep the energy up in the crowd. They are both so vocally talented by themselves, but their voices accent each other so wonderfully when they sing together it really elevates their music to another level.  Ending the night with canons shooting confetti,  Fitz and The Tantrums were a blast to see in concert and I know the people surrounding me felt the same way!

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Overall, my night at Boarding House Park at the Lowell Summer Music Series was an awesome experience. Getting up early to reserve my spot and being able to trust that no one will touch it is not something you can do at most places. The venue provides an intimate setting and it really does not have a bad seat. This type of experience is not something you are able to have very often without having to pay hundreds of dollars. LSMS provides this amazing venue and experience for such an affordable price and I look forward to going to more shows!


Check out the schedule for the rest of the Lowell Summer Music Series here.

A Summer of Celebrations

There is so much to celebrate in Lowell throughout the summer!  There are multiple festivals scheduled for the next few months that you will not want to miss! Join us as we celebrate not only what makes our community so unique, but also what brings us all together!

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On Saturday, June 16th, Merrimack Street will be transformed into a pixie marketplace for the Midsummer Dream Festival. From 12- 10 PM, this festival will celebrate music, art, theater, magic and costume for both kids and adults. The marketplace will include vendors, crafting areas, a cosplay contest, a fairy house promenade and a traveling production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” that will lead you on an exciting journey through downtown from scene to scene.

Also on June 16th, the African Festival runs from 11 AM- 7 PM at the Sampas Pavilion, 500 Pawtucket Boulevard. This year’s theme for the festival is "African Culture: Our Strength, Our Heritage, Our Gift to Mankind." It will feature live music, dancers, crafts, food and more!


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Lowell celebrates Independence Day at LeLacheur Park! Starting at 7 PM on July 4th, there will be tons of activities for families to enjoy, including fireworks starting at 9 PM! Get there first! The first 2,000 attendees get a free American Flag. The Swampland Kids Area will be open and there will be balloon animals and face painting. You can sit in the stands to watch the fireworks or bring your own blanket and sit in the outfield. Click here for more information.


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July 27th-29th it's the Annual Folk Festival! Folk Fest always provides the best in traditional music, ethnic foods and artisan crafts. All weekend there will be an abundance of live music, family activities and more to enjoy. Performing artists range from blues to salsa to beatboxing and everything in between! The craft area will have rug hooking, Norwegian Rosemaling, wooden flute making and more. There is no better way to spend a weekend than enjoying delicious food, live music and great people!


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On August 5th, immerse yourself in culture at the Puerto Rican Festival. From 12 PM- 10 PM, come to JFK plaza to experience more music, craft vendors, and delicious food!

The 17th Annual Blues’ N Brews Festival will rock JFK Plaza on August 11th. This event is rain or shine and will feature performances by Matt Schofield, Dana Fuchs, John Nemeth and Erin Harpe. The brews will include ciders, ales, lagers, meads and more. There will be craft vendors, food trucks, food booths, prizes and giveaways!


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On August 18th, the 22nd Annual Lowell Southeast Asian Water Festival will run from 9 AM to 7:30 PM at the Heritage State Park’s Vandenberg Esplanade. Spend the day along the Merrimack River and enjoy South East Asian food, live music, dancers, vendors and traditional boat races.


There are many other events planned for the coming months in Lowell. Make sure you check out the calendar so you don’t miss out on the fun!