Months of Music

            Lowell’s music scene is growing and attracting new entertainment to several venues around the city. Venues like the Hearing Room, The Tsongas Center, Lowell Memorial Auditorium, and Olympia’s Zorba Music Hall, are all hosting exciting talent this fall.

            The Tsongas Center kicks things off with The Alchemy Tour, an electro dance music event featuring some of EDM’s biggest artists. The show, scheduled for Thursday September 19th, features artists NGHTMRE, Slander, Seven Lions, The Glitch Mob, Svdden Death, and Huxley Annel. The following day brings Californian DJ and award winning EDM artist, ILLENIUM for his Ascend tour continuing the theme of electronic dance music. The music, dance, and lights will reinvigorate and excite EDM fans.

The Tsongas Center keeps the energy high by following up The Alchemy Tour with Grammy award-winning Rap artist Young Thug and Billboard-topping Machine Gun Kelly (MGK) on October 4th. Young Thug, born in Atlanta, Georgia is known for a unique vocal style that makes him stand out from the rest of the field, creating original songs to become one of the biggest mainstream artists today. MGK started his career early, releasing his first mixtape when he was sixteen; he hit the US Billboard top 200 charts in 2012 with his album Lace Up. This collaboration of Georgia native Young Thug and Houston born MGK, features special guest teenage rapper YBN Nahmir from Alabama.

On November 19th, Bob Dylan & His Band takes the stage at the Tsongas Center. No introduction is needed for this artist; Dylan has achieved numerous Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, an Academy Award, and even a Nobel Prize in Literature. Known for his work in the rock, blues, folk, and country genres, Dylan returns for his first concert in Lowell since 2013. This concert will be great for a wide range of music lovers and concert goers.

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The Lowell Memorial Auditorium also hosts some upcoming events, beginning with music icon Amy Grant who brings three decades of iconic pop on October 18th. Tony Bennet follows on October 26th with his tour, My Heart, and in November, Dark Star Orchestra presents its critically acclaimed Grateful Dead set list re-creation show on the 16th, meant to reach Deadheads both young and old by offering their own versions of the Dead’s discography.

            Other venues around Lowell also have live music during September and October. Venues like the Zorba Music Hall and The Hearing Room will host several nights of music for those looking to escape the big crowds to experience local names in music. Olympia’s Zorba Music Hall hosts Moondance, a Van Morrison tribute band, on Saturday September 21st, The Hearing Room’s Jazz Jam unfolds on Sunday September 22nd featuring pianists John McCarron, and lastly the middle of October also marks the two-day The Town and The City music festival. This massive two day festival features 51 bands and artists ranging indie rock, to soul music, held at several venues throughout Lowell, for a wide festival experience. The festival begins Friday October 18th, and concludes the following day on Saturday the 19th.

For more information about these events, please visit:

Tsongas Center Events

Lowell Memorial Auditorium

Zorba Music Hall Events

Hearing Room Calendar

Utopian Park Hydro Sculpture

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            Artist Nancy Selvage has completed her newest project, Hydro, located in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District’s Utopian Park. The sculpture is meant to be interactive and interpretative while providing a place to sit for those wanting to examine the spaces around them. The sculpture flows and swirls, creating artistic archways meant to relax the viewer and “welcome them.” Hydro is sure to attract lots of attention from local artists and Lowllians with a interest in unique public art.

Nancy Selvage News

Lowell Kinetic Sculpture Race and Lowell Irish Festival

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            September winds down with two big events this Saturday, September 21st. The 4th annual Lowell Kinetic Sculpture Race combines art and engineering in a race through downtown and along the Merrimack River. Human-powered sculptures compete on roads and through mud and water, inspiring artists and engineers while promoting physical activity, the arts, and STEM fields.

Also on Saturday, the Lowell Memorial Auditorium hosts the Lowell Irish Festival, featuring local Irish music, dance, food, and craft beer. Several bands will perform including Joshua Tree, The Gobshites, Irish Whispa, and the Young Dubliners. Historical photos, items, and documents representing Lowell’s Irish community will be on display. You don’t have to be Irish to enjoy this festival!

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The Season of Theater

The Season of Theater

Merrimack Repertory Theatre

The Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) presents Tiny Beautiful Things, a theatre adaptation by Nia Vardala, based on the book by Cheryl Strayed on the strength of the human spirit during the search for love and life. Strayed responded to personal letters for years, offering insights for everyday challenges; her responses were later incorporated in her book Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar.

Being able to share stories has helped readers gain a new understanding and mindset when stepping out their front door. MRT captures these moments for the stage, giving audiences a chance to see the scenarios come to life. Tiny Beautiful Things opens MRT’s season Wednesday September, 11th, and runs till October 6th.

Visit the  MRT calendar  for more information!  PC: MRT

Visit the MRT calendar for more information!

PC: MRT

Image Theater

For fifteen years, Image Theater has captured the minds of audiences through various stories, film, plays, and novel adaptations-all without a home stage. This locally-traveling company prides itself on producing unpublished plays and musicals by New England writers and composers.

Those who want a laugh out of politics will love the exaggerations of stand-up comedian Jimmy Tingle’s show, Comedy Meets Politics. The non-profit theatre will host Tingle for two nights at The Old Court on September 13th and 14th. Tingle’s performance is sure to leave the audience laughing with witty remarks, deconstruction of political matters, and timely topics.

Join Image Theater in November for the 13th Annual “Naughty Readings,” a fundraiser of “sexy, silly, and outrageous” adult-only plays and songs. Stay for the after-show catering party to meet the actors and playwrights.

Visit  Image Theater  for more information.

Visit Image Theater for more information.

Balefire Productions

Founded in 2016 by Leo Jordan, Balefire Productions Community Theater was created to liven up the local theatre experience and give back to the community with exciting productions. Partnering with Gallery Z (Artist co-op, Café, and Theater), Jordan changed Balefire this summer to reinvigorate the workspace, offering a fresh theatrical experience.

For more information about the upcoming season, visit  BalefireProductions.org  or their  Facebook  page.

For more information about the upcoming season, visit BalefireProductions.org or their Facebook page.

Middlesex Community College Performing Arts Theater

The Richard and Nancy Donahue Family Academic Arts Center is a state-of-the art theater with an upcoming season of theater, dance, and music. The historic Arts Center, once a railroad station, movie theater, and bowling alley is now home to Middlesex Community College’s Performing Arts Program.

The Women of Lockerbie, a story of a mother from New Jersey in search of her son’s remains in the hills of Lockerbie, Scotland, premiers September 26th at the MCC Theater. It’s a story of determination involving acts of love and hate following a crashed commercial plane in the area. The play has five performances with three between the 26th - 28th at 7 p.m., and two on the 28th and 29th at 2 p.m.

Visit the  MCC Performing Arts  page for further information.

Visit the MCC Performing Arts page for further information.

An Intern's Experience with Cultural Affairs and Special Events (CASE)

Through the UMass Lowell Intern program, I was very lucky to be placed at CASE for the spring semester.  I’m originally from Connecticut, so being placed in the cultural and special event hub of Lowell was a blessing as I was eager to familiarize myself with all that Lowell has to offer.  In my research of Lowell through premiers in the theater, calming galleries, and funky desserts in the downtown district, these are the aspects of the city with a lot to like that I liked the most.

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Museums & The Arts

Beautiful indoor architecture—I viewed the portion of the house in which Whistler himself used to reside.  I remember entering the house and immediately being greeted at the door with a pleasant smile.  The formal nature of the renovated home reminded me of a smaller version of the Newport mansions, in which the history and rich architectural beauty makes for the most calming experience.  What I enjoyed the most was that each room in the house and each floor as well, had a different aesthetic.  One room maintained James Whistler’s office area, while another room was turned into an art studio for artists to have a free space to create.  

Following my visit to the Whistler House, I met up with a friend to see the works at the New England Quilt Museum.  Visiting this site directly after the Whistler House made for an astonishing dichotomy of historical versus contemporary art pieces.  While NEQM did display quilts made for bedframes hundreds of years ago, what struck me the most was the second floor exhibit.  NEQM features certain themed quilt installations, and I visited when there was an exhibit on gun control.  While this was a powerful and somewhat somber portion of my visit, observing how people took to their needles to showcase their imaginative nature quickly brightened up the rainy day that I visited.

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Food & Drink

Coffee & Cotton was one of the few places I had visited before starting my internship with CASE. However, I typically went there to do homework with friends instead of diving in to what the menu had to offer.  Since Coffee & Cotton was a part of the “Good and Good for You” section on my post, it was only right that I tried the healthy matcha latte.  The rich, earthy flavor of the matcha paired with the warm steamed milk was absolutely heavenly.  The latte was the perfect solution to having a sweet yet healthy drink to pair with work.  I couldn’t stop at just a drink purchased, so I later ordered one of Coffee & Cotton’s classic grilled cheeses on sourdough bread.  The gooey cheese sandwiched within the crunchy sourdough made for the tastiest lunch I’d had in a while. 

Photo courtesy of Coffee & Cotton.

Photo courtesy of Coffee & Cotton.


The Theater

Unfortunately as timing had it this semester, I was unable to physically attend any of the events offered at the various theaters I had written about.  I felt the greatest connection with local theaters such as Merrimack Reparatory Theater and Image Theater, and I anticipate attending their upcoming shows.  A recent show exhibited playwright Lauren Gunderson’s life story and turned it into a musical-esque performance with instruments including a banjo.  In my further research of upcoming plays, I am anxious to attend one of the group’s performances as they blend such unparalleled themes, instruments, and experiences. 

I also found Image Theater to be one of the most interesting theater groups I had the pleasure to write about.  I spoke with directors Jerry Bisantz and Ann Garvin in order to learn more about their community theater group.  What I learned from my correspondence with the two leaders is that they are clearly passionate about the theater and bringing local artists to center stage.  Ann had fabulously described the group as a “little travelling theater company”, as their productions are staged at various spots in Lowell.  Like MRT, Image Theater has unique performances, and even some festivals like the Femme Film Festival, that I’m happy I was exposed to and look forward to attending. 

Photo courtesy of Merrimack Repertory Theater.

Photo courtesy of Merrimack Repertory Theater.


Sights & Learning Experiences

As the weather warmed, I was excited to go on a photography mission to capture Lowell atop three garage rooftops.  What I found particularly interesting during this experience was how viewing the city from above perfectly showed how the city has built itself up while also preserving pieces of its past.  The best example of this was seeing how old mill buildings were transformed into spaces where people could work and live.  It’s neat to live in a city that chose to be independent from the typical skyscraper look. 

As another one of my assignments outside of the office, I went to Pollard Memorial Library to use the microfiche machine for a possible newsletter post.  While the information we thought might be of interest didn’t materialize I discovered the library’s beautiful murals decorating the interior from ceiling to floor.  There was so much history here.

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Major Events

The annual event of Winterfest proved to be a haven for meeting new people and experiencing new tastes, sounds, and overall fun.  The hype for the soup competition was accompanied with a “mile-long” line out the door, and they were some of the best soups I’ve ever tasted.  People of all ages with ginormous smiles warmed me up on that winter day, and I was blessed to meet each and every one of them. 

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Major Happenings in May

Don’t let the April showers bring you down, as there are a lot of exciting events blossoming in Lowell this May.  Festivals, marketplaces, and activities to get moving outdoors sprout in full force in the coming month.  Here are some events to see in May 2019:

Photo courtesy of Lowell Earth Day Parade and Festival page.

Photo courtesy of Lowell Earth Day Parade and Festival page.


Friday, May 3rd + Saturday, May 4th

Beyond producing plays and showing off their own talents, Image Theater is known for hosting special events for area playwrights and producers to present their creations.  Image Theater is going to the next level with Femme Film Festival.  The festival will be held at Whistler House Museum where venue folks can appreciate the short film work of the finest women filmmakers in the area.  Come check out this unparalleled affair on May 3rd or May 4th at 8 pm. 

Photo courtesy of Image Theater.

Photo courtesy of Image Theater.


Saturday, May 4th

Illuminate your night with the Points of Light Lantern Festival at 6 pm.  In its third annual celebration, the Western Canal glimmers with hundreds of water lanterns. The festival brings folks together not only to view the sparkle of the canal, but also to celebrate Lowell’s diverse culture. The festival provides impressive visuals as well as food, music, and performances. 

Western Ave. Studios (WAS) is back and blooming alongside the trees with their First Saturdays Open Studios May 4th.  Wander through the studios next Saturday to marvel at the works of art unique to the WAS. 

Photo courtesy of Point of Light Lantern Celebration page.

Photo courtesy of Point of Light Lantern Celebration page.


Sunday, May 5th

Sustainability should never go out of style, and the Lowell Earth Day Parade celebrates its importance.  The event begins at 12:30 pm with a mile-long parade beginning at the Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center at 246 Market St.  The parade concludes at the UML ICC, where representatives from various Lowell organizations will stick around until 4 pm to teach and answer sustainability inquiries. 

Photo courtesy of Lowell Earth Day Parade and Festival page.

Photo courtesy of Lowell Earth Day Parade and Festival page.


Wednesday, May 8th

Trade your dress shoes for sneakers before your day of work on May 8th for the Bike to Work Day from 7-9 am.  This initiative by VeoRide and various health organizations in Lowell encourages city employees to meet at JFK Plaza to take a spin before the typical work day.  Snacks, coffee, and juice will be available to rev up your internal engines and start this morning right. 

Photo by Dan Russo on Unsplash.

Photo by Dan Russo on Unsplash.


Friday, May 10th and Saturday, May 11th

Explore the inside of historic structures with the Doors Open Lowell event.  On May 10th and 11th, grab “good walking shoes” and a camera while walking from dwelling to dwelling to see the inner marvels of a Lowell site that’s piqued your interest in the past.   

Photo courtesy of Doors Open Lowell.

Photo courtesy of Doors Open Lowell.


Saturday, May 11th

Mother’s Day is fast approaching, but there’s no need to fear not finding the perfect gift for this special lady in your life.  At Mill No. 5 on May 11th from 12-4 pm, you can peruse all kinds of gifts for Mom.  Present her something unexpected this holiday with a treasure you’ve snagged from the Mother’s Day Marketplace. 

Photo courtesy of Mill No. 5.

Photo courtesy of Mill No. 5.


Saturday, May 18th

Stop by the dual vendor event from 12-4 pm to purchase items from The Nerd or Pulp & Press.  The Nerd will offer attendees the “geek” essentials with books, comics, toys and much more.   Pulp & Press vendors will offer paper items of all kinds, some of which include stationary, books, prints, and myriads more.    

Photo courtesy of Mill No. 5.

Photo courtesy of Mill No. 5.

While Everything’s Blooming, Get Moving Outdoors!

The transition months of cold to warm in April and May bring excitement to sunnier days ahead in Lowell.  As we enter April, there are activities planned to keep you on the move while enjoying the warm weather.  From Breezy walks through Lowell’s waterways to daring whitewater rafting on the Concord River, there is something for all outdoor adventure seekers to try. 


Photo courtesy of Lowell Parks and Trust.

Photo courtesy of Lowell Parks and Trust.

Lowell Parks and Trust Whitewater Rafting

For daredevils 14 years or older, the Lowell Parks and Trust can take you for quite the whitewater rafting ride on the Concord River.  Every weekend starting from April 6th to May 19th, you can splash against the tides at the Concord’s three class III-IV rapids- Twisted Sister, Three Beauties, and The Middlesex Dam.  There is also talk of “surfing” involved on the Three Beauties rapid, but that will be left for you to discover.  Get a group of friends or family together and make a reservation for 9a.m. to 1p.m. or 12p.m. to 4p.m. to get your heart racing during these next few weekends.   


Photo courtesy of National Park Service Lowell.

Photo courtesy of National Park Service Lowell.

NPS Waterway Walk

To enjoy the first full week of warmer weather, begin your outdoor adventures with the Redevelopment Rove walk throughout the historical gems of Lowell.  Through the Lowell National Park Service, you can take a stroll on this 1 mile walking tour from the Visitor Center all the way to the middle of the Market Mills courtyard.  On this trail, you can mix exercise with a historical lesson as you view how mill complexes and the canalside have been met with the charm of modern day Lowell. 


Photo courtesy of City Challenge Race Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of City Challenge Race Facebook page.

Greater Boston City Challenge Race

To take Lowell to even further extremes, the city will be transformed into an “extreme playground” on May 4th.  In the Greater Boston City Challenge Race, you climb over walls and run with cinder blocks, leap through a sea of old tires, and “think outside the mud” with this intense obstacle course.  The first race begins at 8:30am, and new races follow every 30 minutes.  The more intense obstacles for the city’s “elites” will begin earlier in the day, but completing any of the day’s events is not a task for the faint-hearted. 


Photo courtesy of Doors Open Lowell.

Photo courtesy of Doors Open Lowell.

Doors Open Lowell

If you need a moment of shelter after completing the above walks and rapid adventures, then the Doors Open Lowell is the event for you.  If you have ever wished to see what could be found within a building in Lowell, Doors Open Lowell allows folks to wander the city to enter some of the most historic gems.  You can still get your outdoor fix on May 10th and 11th while exploring the architectural wonders from within a building.  Doors Open highly encourages you to pair your “good walking shoes” with your camera. 


Photo courtesy of the National Park Service Lowell.

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service Lowell.

NPS Guided Tours

In addition to waterway strolls, the National Park Service also offers guided tours.  The Mill & Trolley tour is a free exhibit that takes you through the history of our mill city.  On this tour, you are taken back in time to get a view of the Mill Girls and immigration that have shaped Lowell into the city it is today.  You can also take a ride on the favored transportation of Lowell’s past on the trolley on any Monday to Friday from May 28th to June 10th. 

                If you want to float atop Lowell’s waters without hitting the rapids just yet, the NPS will offer a “Working the Water” boat tour on weekends starting on May 25th.  On this boat tour, you get a special history lesson (without being in a classroom) to learn about the people and processes involved in created Lowell’s waterpower system.

Lowell from the Rooftops

The rainy weather that comes with the spring season is no match for the beauty one can see in Lowell. After climbing atop three garages in the heart of Lowell, these shots of the city reminded me of just how stunning this city is after the storms have cleared! Here are some photos of the architectural elegance one can see at an all-encompassing level:

A view from the Roy (Market Street) Garage looking north—how many landmarks can you identify?

A view from the Roy (Market Street) Garage looking north—how many landmarks can you identify?

The Lowell Sun building stands tall among the downtown scene in a southeast shot from the Joseph Downes (John Street) garage.

The Lowell Sun building stands tall among the downtown scene in a southeast shot from the Joseph Downes (John Street) garage.

Eastern corner of the Joseph Downes Garage—Kerouac Park, Mass Mills and Christian Hill in Centralville beyond.

Eastern corner of the Joseph Downes Garage—Kerouac Park, Mass Mills and Christian Hill in Centralville beyond.

Southwest view from the Downes Garage of the Lowell Freshman Academy, and architect Harry Prescott Groves’s “raised latticework pattern” on the former Lowell Trade High School.

Southwest view from the Downes Garage of the Lowell Freshman Academy, and architect Harry Prescott Groves’s “raised latticework pattern” on the former Lowell Trade High School.

The Roy Garage provides a bird’s perch view of the Industrial Canyon looking upstream of the Lower Pawtucket Canal.

The Roy Garage provides a bird’s perch view of the Industrial Canyon looking upstream of the Lower Pawtucket Canal.

The Drinks and Desserts of the Canalway Cultural District

Lowell has a sweet array of specialty sweet treats to be found in the canalway cultural district.  From lychee cupcakes to a sugary-filled s’mores bouquet, there are various cultural treats that make the district a melting pot of diversity and flavors.  Here’s a list of locations to check out:

Photo courtesy of Little Delights Bakery.

Photo courtesy of Little Delights Bakery.


Asian Treats

The city has such a rich blend of cultural diversity, so it’s a given that some of the sweets and treats destinations would follow suit.  The roots of Little Delights Bakery are found in Many Lee Pho’s home kitchen in 2011.  After friends and family fell in love with these decadent creations, the bakery snowballed into a business that could create custom designs for all customer needs.  Their motto of “you dream it; we’ll create it” led to the creation of some unusually delicious flavors for cupcakes.  During the spring season, you have the chance to try their lychee and durian cupcakes.  The light, sweet taste of the Chinese lychee fruit cupcake will melt in your mouth.  And, while the durian fruit has a reputation for its off-putting smell, you’ll have to let Little Delights change this opinion for you. 

At Sweet Journey, you can find more traditional Asian treats with their creamy macchiato cheese, foam teas and bingsu milk snow ice.  The macchiato cheese is topped on drinks to allow for an extra kick of sweet (or salty, depending on your preference) to give you superb taste and texture.  Customers can also try the many flavors of bingsu milk snow ice, which is a Korean shaved ice milk dessert. In addition to the delicious drinks and pastries, both sites offer specialty bubble teas and boba options.  Little Delights is open Monday to Saturday from 11am-5pm, and Sweet Journey operates Monday to Friday 10am-9pm and Saturdays and Sundays 12-9pm. 

Photo courtesy of Sweet Journey.

Photo courtesy of Sweet Journey.


A Spin on Classics

You’ve heard of the cappuccino, but get ready for the mochachino.  At the Coffee Mill, you can get this traditional drink that packs an explosion of chocolaty goodness.  The classic cappuccino drink is already a spin on the classic latte drink, as it typically involves steamed cream instead of milk with a shot of espresso.  At Coffee Mill, the mochachino takes this drink to another level with the mixture of foamy cream with succulent mocha.  While sipping on the mochachino, you can pair this smooth drink with a crunchy Viennese cookie. Coffee Mill is open Monday to Friday 7am to 6pm, or Saturdays 9am-2pm. 

Autumn is a while away, but that does not mean you can’t enjoy a good marshmallow or s’more treat in any season.  Sweet Lydia’s takes the standard marshmallow and transforms it into a special taste.  In addition to flavors like raspberry or chunky toasted coconut marshmallows, there is also s’mores bouquets you can specially order for a special someone (or simply to indulge yourself).  Escape into a world where you “let your sweet tooth know no bounds” at Sweet Lydia’s Monday to Friday 11am-6pm, Saturdays 11am-8pm, or Sundays 11am-5pm. 

Photo courtesy of Sweet Lydia’s.

Photo courtesy of Sweet Lydia’s.


A Home-Style Feel

Everyone experiences a certain nostalgia when they bite into a dessert and are instantly taken back to a flavor from home.  At locations like Rosie’s Café and Purple Carrot Bread Company, one sip of their coffees and one bite into their pastries will make you feel right at home.  At Rosie’s Café, coffee cakes are such a hit for family gatherings that pre-orders are taken well in advance for holidays like Thanksgiving.  You can get a classic coffee cake or spice up the flavor with banana coconut.  The café stands out as they brew with their very own flavored beans, under the brand of Peak Coffee Roasters.  Wake up with a cup of their joe Monday to Friday from 7am-2pm. 

The Purple Carrot Bread Company is another shop with homemade delicacies.  The company lives up to its name with their exceptional artisan toast selection on the breakfast menu.  This toast adds the perfect crunch to a morning meal, and can be paired with whipped butter, house-made strawberry jam, or their natural peanut butter.  You can also choose from their maple cinnamon cream cheese or customer-favorite fig or triple berry jam. 

Photo courtesy of Purple Carrot Bread Company.

Photo courtesy of Purple Carrot Bread Company.


Good and Good For You

Those looking for a filling yet healthy option will have a happy stomach after dining at Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus.  In addition to their wide variety of self-roasted coffee choices, the acai bowl is a sweet and healthy treat for the health conscious customer.  The bowl is a delicious blend of Acai, strawberries and bananas.  It is also topped with more fresh strawberries, bananas, granola, and chia seeds. At Coffee and Cotton, the increasingly popular kombucha health tea can be enjoyed here.  Coffee and Cotton’s hours are Sunday to Wednesday 7am-8pm and Thursday to Saturday 7am-10pm. 

For more healthy goodness, there are many “therapeutic” eats at Life Alive.  Every day from 10am-9pm, you can try their chaga chai caramel smoothie, which is made from medicinal chaga mushrooms, chai, banana, gelato, chia and lucuma caramel.  This smoothie will stomp all toothsome cravings while making you feel great too. 

Photo courtesy of Coffee and Cotton.

Photo courtesy of Coffee and Cotton.

A First-Timers Take on Winterfest

As someone who is a new citizen of Lowell, and especially someone who comes from a fairly small town, Winterfest exposed me to new experiences and a greater pride in the city I now call home.  I saw smiling faces of all ages enjoying the winter festivities, and in turn was kept warm by the pure joy of all event-goers.  Here’s a first-timer’s impressions of Winterfest through my eyes and my camera lens:

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Bustling Activity

After I parked, two chestnut-colored horses casually sauntered ahead of me while they pulled a carriage. A sight I was not familiar with in downtown Lowell, I knew I was in for an exquisite day.  Upon entering the “heart” of the event on Arcand Drive, I saw serious faces guiding a curling stone towards the glowing bullseye ahead of them.  (And, might I add, all of these folks could find themselves a future career in the sport.) 

Beyond this point, Arcand Drive had become a little world of its own with myriads of food trucks and vendors animating the street.  Cheery faces on the carousel zoomed past me, and the smell of roasting marshmallows had me lusting for some classic s’mores.  I walked further to find myself in a white tent with a funk band moving the crowd with the sweet sounds of their saxophone.  While swaying to the tunes, I perused some of the fine handmade crafts on sale.  This was only the start of the temptation to make a purchase.  Outside of the tent, I found myself in front of the Winter Market.  It took all of the self-control I could muster in order to not purchase one of everything these vendors had to offer. 

As the day was already beautifully warm, Lowla Bear provided an extra snuggle of warmth with her toasty hugs.  As children eagerly waited to leap into Lowla’s arms, folks were gliding across the ice rink.  As someone who cannot skate, I was beyond impressed with everyone’s ability to move so gracefully on this “icy” faux ring.    

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Soup Competition

Lastly, but certainly not least, the Soup Competition was the most pleasantly surprising aspect that I witnessed.  I heard from past years that the soup competition was one of the most popular events of Winterfest, but I was shocked to see how the line grew throughout much of the competition. At the start of the event, there were folks in a queue that could be described as a “mile-long line”.  The second the event started, people flooded the Masonic Center with a spoon in hand eager to taste what the restaurants brought to the table.  I watched in awe as representatives from Lao de Café quickly diced vegetables right before my eyes and essentially created their soup seconds before serving. 

Following my tour to check out events outside of the Masonic Center, I returned to see more enthusiastic fingers itching to grab more spoons for their new flavor experience.  I would have to say that I found the soup competition as my personal favorite part of Winterfest.  Even though restaurants were going head-to-head to take the first-place spot, it was something that families, friends, and restaurants alike could share their talents and enjoy each other’s company. 

For those curious about which restaurants took the winning spots, they will be officially announced at an award ceremony on Tuesday, March 12th. It will be held in the Mayor’s Reception Room in City Hall at 5:30pm.  

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Designs and Illustrations for you to De-Stress

If the heat of the semester and/or the New Year is beginning to stress you out, there are special places that can help you to de-stress.  A recent article from The Guardian found that a great deal of people under 30 years old turn to art galleries or museums to help them relax.  Lowell can deliver this times ten, as the city is known for its saying, “Art is the Handmaid of Human Good”.  Here are some ideas to plan for the next time you need to unwind:

Artwork by Suzanne Hodge, courtesy of Western Ave Studios

Artwork by Suzanne Hodge, courtesy of Western Ave Studios


Home is Where the Art is…

The founders of Western Ave Studios and Ayer Lofts understand that you’ll have blocks in your life where you may need a little inspiration.  They created a community for artists to live and create together.  This sense of family is apparent when one visits the lofts for private and public exhibits, and it makes for a more intimate and comforting setting for visitors looking to repose. 

The Ayer Lofts offers exclusive exhibits, and their upcoming events can be found on their website or their Facebook page.  For an exclusive event, you can request a private show for $150 per month.  For more wallet-friendly happenings, Western Ave Studios offers various open door events and exhibits.  In particular, you can stop by for the “First Floor Final Fridays” until June 28th, in which the first floor will be open to the public for viewings on the last Friday of each month. 

Artwork by Michele Boll, courtesy of Western Ave Studios

Artwork by Michele Boll, courtesy of Western Ave Studios


A Trip Back in Time

For those that would like a trip that blends both art and history, the Whistler House, New England Quilt Museum, and Boott Cotton Mills museum have just what you’re looking for.  The mission of the Whistler House is to maintain the birthplace of James McNeill Whistler.  They pride themselves in sustaining Whistler’s art, in addition to offering classes about his and other 19th Century artists’ works.  You can visit the house for a guided or self-guided tour any time from 11am-4pm Wednesdays through Saturdays.  Like the Whistler House, the New England Quilt Museum (NEQM) is a favorite to visit.  At NEQM, you can delve into the world of quiltmaking that began from the founding of this country.  With each hand-crafted quilt you see, you will be in awe at the artistry created when these colorful cloths came together.  NEQM is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10am-4pm, and Sundays from 12-4pm.

The Boott Cotton Mills is one component of the Lowell Historical National Park that brings to life the uses of water, steam, and electricity that powered Lowell mills from the mid-1830s to the start of the 20th century. The museum’s winter hours are Monday through Thursday from 12-4pm and Friday through Sunday from 12-5pm. For a new experience at the Cotton Mills, there will be a “404 Festival of Technology and Art” on February 16th from 1-4pm, where students and families can enjoy interactive pieces and technological wonders together.

Artwork by Susan Carlson, courtesy of New England Quilt Museum

Artwork by Susan Carlson, courtesy of New England Quilt Museum


A Taste of Creation

As you’re quenching your thirst for all things art and history, you should add actual food and refreshments during your visit.  Galleries such as UnchARTed offer an out-of-this-world menu, and Gallery Z has a café and espresso bar that will keep you energized while you explore.  UnchARTed prides itself as being a central place where, “art, live music, food, drinks, and Lowell-folk get together”.  They do an exceptional job in bringing the community together and offering them something new.  They offer a delightful assortment of pizzas that satisfy any cravings.  The gallery is generally open from Tuesday through Saturday from 12pm-1am for those looking to enjoy this eclectic experience.  Some upcoming events to mark on your calendars will be concerts from Street Kult & Tahj Ace on February 16th at 10pm.  There will also be a special album release from Zach Boudrot on March 8th at 8pm. 

At Gallery Z, the café and espresso bar is one of the many treats you’ll get a taste of here.  You can sink your teeth into a meal at the weekly Sunday Brunch until December 30th from 10am-2pm.  In addition to the sweet morning treats, there are various music, poetry and theater events throughout the year.  Upcoming, there is an “All Things Red” art exhibition you can view until February 24th.  The Gallery is open on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 12-5pm, and Friday and Saturday from 12-9pm. 

Photo courtesy of Gallery Z

Photo courtesy of Gallery Z


For the Artist in You…

So far you have read a great deal about places to unwind.  Now, the time has come to put the paint brush in your hands.  If you unwind more effectively by painting, the Brush Art Gallery and the Art League of Lowell (ALL) provide art classes.  Brush Art Gallery is currently made up of a team of nine studio artists who present “quality exhibitions, educational programs, and collaborate with many other nonprofit groups”.  At the Brush, you can find anything from paintings to jewelry in their halls.  Coming up next for the Gallery is the “Four by Four Gallery Event”, which begins with a blank canvas.  You can request a 4 inch by 4 inch canvas to fill with any “media and materials” you choose that will get submitted to the event.  Beyond submitting your own work here, you can visit other artists’ creations for free admission on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11am-4pm and Sunday from 12-4pm. 

ALL Gallery is a society founded in the fall of 2003 that “fosters and celebrates creativity and artistic expression in Lowell and the surrounding areas”.  ALL members meet to discuss the arts and support one another in their artistic journeys.  The Gallery hopes for “all” lovers of art in Lowell to convene here.  You can find more information about their mission and upcoming exhibits on their website, or visit their location on Wednesday through Saturday from 12-6pm, and Sunday from 12-4pm.  

Edge of the World  by Coleman Rogers, courtesy of ALL Gallery Facebook page

Edge of the World by Coleman Rogers, courtesy of ALL Gallery Facebook page

Local Theater Groups and Upcoming Productions

If you’re in need of an escape from reality, Lowell’s various theater groups have upcoming productions that can do just that.  From plays that embody the relationship between two dissimilar family members, to festivals that celebrate females in film, these productions are ready to let you flee from your daily responsibilities.

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Merrimack Repertory Theater

MRT remains true to their mission statement to “share theatrical stories of human understanding that reflect and engage community” for 40 years. Under the direction of Artistic Director Sean Daniels and Executive Director Bonnie J. Butkas, MRT allows their audience an opportunity to be so much more than a spectator in the crowd. They get their audiences to experience the play so deeply it feels as if they’re on the stage themselves.

With the brand new month comes a brand new play for people to enjoy opens February 13th and runs to March 10th.  The World Premiere of “The Heath” by Lauren Gunderson will bring you into the world of family members with dissenting personalities, yet their differences are what makes their relationship that much more beautiful.

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Image Theater

Image Theater was formed in 2005 as a non-profit theater company.  In the nearly 15 years the company has been around, they have made quite a name for themselves as they do so much for local writers, playwrights, novelists, and filmmakers.  Founders Jerry Bisantz and Ann Garvin have worked with gifted producers in order to produce their fan-favorite “Keep Your Kids at Home” naughty readings; “Mill City Minutes” ten minute plays; and the full length play “Kerouac’s Last Call”. 

Garvin had humbly noted that Image Theater is a “little homeless theater company” as the group does not have one set home stage, however numerous Lowell companies have welcomed their productions with open arms.  You can find Image Theater’s productions at popular Lowell destinations such as The Old Court Pub, The Whistler House Museum of Art, and The Lowell Freshman Academy.  The company will take an interesting spin on Garvin’s “Femnoire: The Women’s Playwriting Festival” to create the “Femme Film Fest”, which will feature short films by women filmmakers from all over New England on May 3rd and 4th.  Shortly following “Femme Film Fest”, the company will also produce some “one-acts” between May and November.  Image Theater rarely follows a “set season”, but you can keep updated about exciting upcoming productions at www.imagetheater.com

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Studio 506

Only a short 5 years after Studio 506’s founding in 2014, what started with a few friends keeping the love of theater alive turned into a successful theater group in Lowell.  Founder Kaitlyn Crockett hopes that Studio 506 sheds the “stigma” around what it means to be a community theater group.  Instead, the company calls themselves an “Indie Theater Company” as they perform shows in creatively unorthodox ways to get the surrounding community connected to their shows.  The group has had success with past productions. Some were performed in the center of a Lowell garden with the audience just inches away from the actors. 

In March, Studio 506 will bring something new to the table with, “Revolt.  She Said.  Revolt Again”, a production written by Alice Birch and directed by Kaitlyn Crockett.  “Revolt” will be performed at the Humanity Boutique, and it will discuss sex and gender in a way that “does not behave”.  Don’t miss this rendition of a play that doesn’t play by the rules by a Lowell group that throws the concept of “ordinary” to the wind. 

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Balefire Theater Group

Similar to Studio 506, Balefire Theater is a recently created theater group (founded in May 2016), that wants to give their audience members a different theater experience.  Past productions, such as “Sherlock Holmes: ‘A Study in Scarlet’”, involved audience members surrounding the action of the play while they are served dinner and drink.  Balefire Theater recently began to adopt this production method of “Dinner Theater” in August of 2017, that allows audiences to enjoy the theater with their eyes- and their stomachs. 

The next opportunity to please your palate will take place from March 21st-24th for the company’s upcoming production of “Waiting for Godot”.  This play takes place in a post-World War II, and explores the awaiting of the mysterious “Godot” through the eyes of the two main characters.  The play is a wonderful mix of history, humor, and the human experience that will serve warmth to your heart with a fresh side of laughter. 

Photography by: Kate Brindley Photography

Photography by: Kate Brindley Photography


Off-Broadway Players

For locals who are wondering what UMass Lowell students bring to the stage, a Spring production called “Triptych” is currently in the works.  President of the Off-Broadway Players club, Daisy Var, had done a wonderful job of relaying information about all things “OBP” in 2019, but her “lips are sealed” in terms of news for their fall production.  However, there are 6 opportunities for folks to view Triptych from February 27th-March 3rd.  The production will include original pieces that were written by the club’s advisor, Dr. Dale J. Young.  Check out how these UMass Lowell students will bring this new creation to life! 

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A Glimpse Ahead to the Fast-Approaching Winterfest

As the New Year is throwing the Northeast with it coldest winter punches, New Englanders could use a reminder of the positives occurring in the cold months.  Luckily for us, Winterfest is just around the corner.  On Friday, February 22nd from 5-10pm and Saturday, February 23rd from 11am-10pm, there will be opportunities for folks of all ages to enjoy the festivities together. 

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Musicians

Winterfest is known for bringing something new to the city every year, and this year will be no exception.  There will be a mix of fresh tunes to hear this February.  The Squires of Soul are a Lowell-based funk and soul band who implement unique instruments into their songs, such as the harp and vox egg.  Lily Black is bringing their talents from Boston to Lowell and introducing the city to their very own genre, punk/pop indie dance. 

There will also be fresh spins on old classic songs performed by cover bands, such as the “call out of work the next day” band, Hal Holiday & The Tones.  To wind down from the excitement of Hal Holiday, the Evan Goodrow Band will be soothing the crowd with their soulful pieces. It’ll be quite the challenge for you to not feel good or sing along with this years musician lineup! 

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Food + Drink

Your taste buds will be as pleased as will your ears at Winterfest.  Food vendors will line the streets with comfort food and other delectable eats.  The soup competition will also be making its annual appearance at the event, with anticipated flavors such as sweet coconut and savory chicken.  Judges, who have a great love for the city, and for great flavor, will be coming together to determine the year’s best soup.  There will also be beverages available for all ages!  

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Family Fun

There are also plenty of activities queued for familial fun and for younger event-goers.  Face painting and games will be readily available, and the fan-favorite carousel will be taking riders for a spin.  In terms of “spinning”, the outdoor ice rink on JFK plaza will also be back to allow people of all ages to show off their skating skills.  After taking a whirl on the ice, families will get to meet with special royalty and character visitors. Families can also hop aboard the hay wagon ride at Larkin Park any time between 12-3pm on the 23rd.

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The Tangible and Intangible Take-Away

With an extensive line-up of jewelry, snacks, and accessories at the winter market, you will definitely want to bring your wallet to grab one of these special products.  Rosie’s Cafe can offer your palate a feel-good, breakfast food experience. For those looking to get their hands on something exceptional, Environerd Studios offers eco-friendly games for everyone to enjoy. While you’re snacking and playing, you mustn’t forget about your furry friends! Your four-legged loved ones can peruse items from Morgan’s Dogdana. 

Amidst the endless shopping available to you, what is priceless and most important are the lasting memories and fun you’ll experience by stopping in at Winterfest.   

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‘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.