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!

Lowell Opens its Doors and Lights Up A Bridge

Doors Open Lowell takes place this Friday and Saturday, May 4th and 5th. In its 17th year, this event allows the community to experience Lowell’s history in a whole new way. We typically are only able to admire the outside architecture of the different buildings that gives Lowell its historic character. Open doors provide an inside view to 31 buildings, as well as many “Doors Open XTRAS” open from 6-9 PM on Friday and from 10 AM- 1 PM and 1 PM- 4 PM on Saturday. There will be shuttle stops on May 5th connecting the different locations. Click here for the map.


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A new addition this year is the Swamp Locks Gatehouse located on Dutton Street. This gatehouse began operating in 1796 and was the second of three locking locations built on the Pawtucket canal. There have been many reconstructions of the gatehouse over the years and the current one is a restoration of the 1859 version. Swamp Locks will be open for tours on May 5th from 10 AM – 1 PM.


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From 6 PM- dusk on May 4th, you can climb aboard the New Orleans “streetcar named Desire,” a Doors Open XTRA The streetcar will depart from Dutton Street, behind the National Street Car Museum. Lowell’s first electric streetcar system began operating in 1889, and their final run was in 1935. The streetcar, New Orleans No. 966, currently in Lowell as part of the “On Track” exhibit, is one of the famed cars that transported people through the French Quarter and inspired Tennessee Williams’ play “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Built by Perley-Thomas of High Point, North Carolina in 1924, it ran throughout the city until 1964.


 Photo courtesy of Barbara Poole

Photo courtesy of Barbara Poole

 Another XTRA this year is the Spalding House. Built in 1760 and located at 383 Pawtucket Street, the Spalding House is the third oldest surviving house in Lowell. The house was purchased in pounds and schillings because at this time we were still under the rule of England. The Spalding House was also known as the Moses Davis Inn and was a refuge for barge keepers bringing lumber down the Merrimack River before the canals were built. This historic site also features a lighting collection representing lighting sources throughout its history. The house will be open on May 5th from 1-4 PM


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The Franco American School will also be one of the buildings open for tours. Dating back to the 1870’s, the Franco American has been home to prominent Lowellians, an orphanage and a school. The building is currently being converted into residences, but the character and the history will be preserved. The estate has 14 Stations of the Cross and a Grotto reflecting its history as a Catholic orphanage and school. After 108 years, the Franco American has found yet another purpose to serve to the community of Lowell. Franco American will be open on May 5th from 1-4 PM.


 Photo courtesy of GLCF

Photo courtesy of GLCF

Don't miss it! The Cox Bridge Lighting is happening on May 5th! Thanks to the generosity of donors at the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, the Cox Bridge has been outfitted with LED lighting that will highlight the architecture of the bridge and create a colorful display on this Lowell landmark, announcing holidays and special events. Come join us for fun, food, and entertainment before the switch is officially flipped. More info here

ArtWeek Returns To Lowell

Lowell celebrates the arts during ArtWeek Lowell. This coming week, April 28th-May 6th is ArtWeek in Massachusetts. This event, which started out just in Eastern Mass, has been expanding in recent years and has become state wide! Since 2013 there have been over one-thousand art events with ArtWeek, showing that there truly is art for everyone; such as culinary arts, multimedia, theater, literature, music, crafts, visual art and more. Lowell is bursting with talented artists from every category and we are excited to share the different events happening around the city for ArtWeek!

 Photo Courtesy of the GLC Foundation

Photo Courtesy of the GLC Foundation

Light Up ArtWeek

Lowell's Second Annual Points of Light Floating Lantern Celebration kicks-off ArtWeek with the release of personalized lanterns on the Western Canal, creating hundreds of points of light. This outdoor event, which will be held at Ecumenical Plaza on April 28th from 6-10 pm, celebrates unity and renewal through the food, music and traditions of Lowell's diverse cultures. 

Also happening on April 28th at 7:30 PM, is the Loft Musicians, a collaborative show performed by the musicians who live in the lofts at Western Avenue. All proceeds from the show go to Miracle Providers New England, and there will be opportunities to interact with the musicians as well.

The Cox Bridge Lighting Celebration on May 5th from 6-8:30 pm is a perfect way to end ArtWeek. The public gathering to celebrate the bridge lighting will be held at Kerouac Park, located on Bridge Street and Blue Star Park. This event will feature live entertainment and food trucks. Be there before the switch is officially flipped to highlight the architecture of this Lowell landmark.


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Art for Everyone

There are many opportunities to get creative throughout the week as well. ArtWeek Lowell events include a free painting demonstration at the Arts League of Lowell on April 29th at 2 pm. During this demonstration, you will learn how to create an acrylic painting using the palette and primary colors. Art supplies will also be available for attendees to experience hands-on art-making with the palette knife and paints.

On May 5th A Little Bazaar and Eyeformation Shop are co-hosting an ArtWeek  event at Mill No 5 that will showcase local artists demonstrating their creative process to the community! Starting at 12 pm, there will be a live paint and drawing demonstration by Lowell based artist Derrick Jamison and P.A.B. On the same day there will be a drop-in activity at Studio #109 at Western Ave, where you can create abstract art using alcohol ink on special paper; this event is safe for children and starts at 12 pm. Also on May 5th, participate in an Initiation to Painting class held at the Arts League of Lowell at 1 pm.

Another nearby event is the Lowell's Asian American Heritage Exhibit opening at the Brush Gallery on May 5th at 2 pm. This exhibit (open until June 7) and talk celebrates Lowell's multicultural communities including Cambodian, Burmese, Laotian, Nepalese, Chinese, Indian, and Thai.


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Talking Art

Art is everywhere in Lowell. Join Richard Howe for a Monument and Public Art Walk on April 28th and 29th at 1 pm. There are more than two dozen monuments around the city and Richard Howe will guide the tour to help locate these important pieces. The tour begins at the National Park Visitors Center, at 246 Market Street.

On May 5th, "Wellness on the Walkways Photography Walk" starts at 1 pm at the National Park Visitors Center. On April 28th, there is a reception and artist talk for "The Quilted Canvas II" exhibit at 11 am at the New England Quilt Museum, 18 Shattuck Street.

There is also an open house for the new art exhibit "Branding Lowell: A History of Local Design" featuring curator talks at the Mogan Cultural Center located at 40 French Street at 1:30 and 3 pm, as well as activities for all ages such as designing your own logo.

Earth Day: Celebrate Green Living in Lowell

With April being National Garden Month, Earth Day coming up on Sunday, the 22nd and National Park Week starting on the 21st, it is the perfect time to talk about the many ways to go green in Lowell. There are many resources and organizations that can provide information on living green and help you take the steps towards a more environmentally sustainable life in an urban setting.


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Offbeet Compost is dedicated to creating a green economy that also produces local green job opportunities. To do this, they redirect food scraps from restaurants, households and small businesses away from the landfills to their composting site, where the scraps are broken down into nutrient rich compost. The new compost is then redistributed to participants and sold to local farmers, gardeners and landscapers. Offbeet also mentions how composting can actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Check out their website to learn more about the different ways you can become involved with Offbeet and their composting plans.


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 With a goal to increase access to fresh produce around Lowell, Mill City Grows is very active in our city. They have many different events and programs that educate both beginners and experienced gardeners, such as farm to table cooking classes and a garden training program. This Saturday, April 21st, Mill City Grows will be hosting a screening of the film "Seed: The Untold Story" at the Luna Theater at 2:05 pm. Seed follows passionate seed keepers who are protecting our 12,000 year-old food legacy of which 94% of seed variations have been eliminated due to biotech companies controlling most of the seeds. 


 Photo by Megpix

Photo by Megpix

Also happening at Mill No. 5 on Saturday, April 21st, will be a puppet, mask and banner making event for families. This event is part of Earth Day from 12-2 pm, and those families who participated last year were inspired to join the Earth Day parade with their art! To learn more about the community gardens around Lowell or if you just want to know more about Mill City Grows, click here.


 Photo by Megpix

Photo by Megpix

The Lowell Earth Day Parade & Festival starts at 11:30 on the 22nd! Celebrating Earth Day with our community is the perfect way to learn more about green living, and what better way to kick off the start of National Park Week than learning about ways to keep our environment clean and sustainable! This city-wide celebration of art, nature and sustainability begins with a parade from the National Park Visitor's Center on Market Street, and after doing a loop down town ends at UTEC on 35 Warren Street, where local groups will present activities, crafts and valuable information about taking care of our planet.


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Catch it before it's gone! The art exhibit "Honoring Gaia: Mother Earth," at the Arts League of Lowell closes on Sunday, the 22nd after being on display since the beginning of March. This exhibit honors Gaia, Mother Earth in mythology, life, birth and the regeneration of our planet's fragile ecosystems in the face of dangerous climate change.

Experience the Year of the Dog in Lowell

Immigrants, including many refugees, have long been part of the fabric of life in Lowell. Through the years waves of immigrants including Irish, Franco-Americans, Portuguese, Polish, Lithuanians, Greeks, Africans, and Cambodians have settled in our city. The result is a vibrant, rich community tapestry. This week many Khmer communities are getting ready to welcome the Year of the Dog, so here's a look at some of the ways local groups will be celebrating in Lowell and how you can participate in welcoming the lunar new year!


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The Cambodian American Student Association at UMass Lowell is holding its biggest event of the year, its annual Khmer New Year celebration, on Saturday, April 14 from 6-10 pm. Scheduled entertainment includes performances from Rice Paddy Heroes, UMass Lowell ProtoHype, Mill Advised and music from DJ Skyhai. There will also be a number of traditional performances as well as delicious Cambodian food, so drop by for a fun night!


 Lakana Lu Photography

Lakana Lu Photography

On April 21st, the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Greater Lowell will host a Cambodian New Year Celebration at the Lowell Senior Center from 8:30 am to 11 am, followed by a parade from the center to Clemente Park at 803 Middlesex St.

The celebration will continue at Clemente Park on Saturday, April 21st, as the community welcomes in the Year of the Dog during the 7th Annual Lowell Khmer New Year Celebration from 12-5 pm. Cambodian New Year (or 'Choul Chnam Thmey'), marks the end of the harvesting season and is a special time when people celebrate the traditional Lunar New Year. This exciting event celebrates Lowell's Cambodian community with delicious ethnic food, colorful traditional outfits, live performances, and traditional folk dances. 


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Another way to experience Cambodian culture around Lowell is to visit Cambodia Town. Officially designated in 2010, Cambodia Town offers an authentic cultural experience to any tourist with its restaurants, jewelry stores, and markets.


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Another culturally rich community is the Laotian community. Laotians will also celebrate the New Year this weekend with a parade event on Sunday, April 15 at the Watlao Mixayaram Temple of New England in South Lowell at 42 Bernier Street. 

Visit our event calendar for all the latest happenings in Lowell!


Wild Side: Lowell's Spring Outdoor Guide

There are many ways for you to enjoy the outdoors in Lowell this spring! Stroll along the National Historical Park's waterways; explore the Concord River Greenway, Lowell's "hidden jewel", or hop on a trolley and canal boat for a tour offered by the Park. There are plenty of events happening that will have you enjoying Lowell's beautiful urban scenery and the soon-to-arrive warm weather!


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The Wellness on the Walkways Series continues with a Family Photography Walk on Sunday April 15th, from 11 am-12:30 pm. The walk begins at the National Park Visitor Center at 246 Market Street and will bring visitors to a variety of interesting downtown locations, covering the history of the area and encouraging photographs along the way.

On Thursday the 19th, Richard Howe guides us on a 300 Years of History Walk from 6-7:30 pm. The walk begins at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center and spans Native American history through the rise of textile manufacturing. Howe will also be guiding a City Hall Monuments Walk on Saturday the 28th and Sunday the 29th beginning at the National Park Visitor Center.


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The Lowell Earth Day Parade & Festival returns on April 22nd! This city-wide celebration of art, nature and sustainability starts at 11:30 am with a parade from the National Park Visitor's Center and ends at UTEC, where local groups will present activities, crafts and valuable information about taking care of our planet.


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The 7th Annual Lowell Khmer New Year Celebration takes place at Clemente Park on April 21st from 12-5 pm. This exciting event celebrates Lowell's Cambodian community with delicious ethnic food, beautiful traditional outfits, live performances and traditional folk dances.


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A community group is bringing Lowell's Second Annual Points of Light Floating Lantern Celebration to Ecumenical Plaza on April 28th from 6-10 pm. This outdoor event celebrates unity and renewal through the food, music and traditions of Lowell's diverse cultures. The centerpiece of the night will be the release of personalized lanterns on the Western Canal, creating hundreds of points of light. As part of the festival the community group will also host lantern decorating events - check out the event page for more information


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You can go whitewater rafting on the Concord River until May 20th. With Zoar Outdoor you experience the rapids safely and have the experience of a lifetime! Reservation times are 9 am and 1 pm. An added bonus to this wild ride is that a portion of the proceeds supports the Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust's conservation work. Find out more here.

Spring into Art

There is no better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than seeing beautiful art around the city! The upcoming months will have great opportunities to view inspiring artwork that will make you want to keep coming back! Stretch your legs after this long and exhausting winter and see the superb exhibits up on display.

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Explore Lowell’s history in a new, exciting way! The Branding Lowell exhibit at the Mogan Cultural Center highlights the branding and design used in Lowell since its founding in 1836 up to the present day. There will be merchandise available for purchase and 100% of proceeds go towards Lowell High School’s Visual Arts Program. Branding Lowell will run through the spring and summer daily at the Mogan Cultural Center with a satellite location at Mill No. 5. Follow the link for more information.


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Other Exhibits Happening Around Lowell

Nancy Bernardo will give a public lecture at UMass Lowell O’Leary Library about her works and current show “Decorative Debris” In this exhibit, Bernardo uses transitory texts from the early 20th Century to show the beauty in everyday imagery. The lecture will begin at 3:30 P.M. followed by a reception at the University Gallery in Mahoney Hall, from 5-6 PM. The exhibit will continue until April 21st.


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Meanwhile, at the Arts League of Lowell, the exhibit "Honoring Gaia: Mother Earth" has been on display since March 1st and run to April 22nd. This exhibit honors Gaia, Mother Earth in mythology, life, birth, and the regeneration of our planets fragile ecosystems in the face of dangerous climate change. Visit the website for more information.


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On March 1st, the "Visual Voices" exhibition opened at the Whistler House Museum of Arts Parker Gallery. This exhibit features works by students in grades 9-12 from Lowell High, Greater Lowell Technical High, and Lowell Catholic High. "Visual Voices" was started in 2002 by art teacher and local artist Lolita Demers and has grown into a biennial city-wide art event. A reception and award ceremony will be held on April 7th from 2-4 PM.


Quietus

Emily Sandagata’s mixed media work blurs the boundaries between painting, sculpture and textile art, incorporating found objects, natural materials, and earth-based pigments. Her latest show "Quietus," is on view at UnchARTed Gallery through April 7. Don't miss this terrific exhibit that explores themes of death, survival, transformation, growth and decay.

Handmade in the Heart of Lowell

Lowell has many entrepreneurial types who have made their dreams become reality. We are so happy that these businesses are sharing their hard work and talent. If you are looking to support a local business while getting quality product, look no further! Here are some of the businesses whose home and heart are in Lowell.


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Red Antler Apothecary

Created in 2013, the Red Antler Apothecary set out to create products with natural ingredients that are healthy for your skin and bade. They list all their ingredients used in their products all of which are cruelty free! Their products are handmade and include household cleaning, soaps, shampoos and many other self-care items. Red Antler is located at Mill No. 5, and occasionally they provide workshops, such as their "Bath Bomb Boogie Workshop," which is being held April 20th. For more information, click here.


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Ymittos Candles

For over 100 years, Ymittos Candles has been crafting candles without using automation or modern machinery. They are New England's oldest, continually operating candle factory and supply candles for churches as well as hospitality, design/home, and the film industries. Ymittos has provided handcrafted candles for movies for over 20 years and over 40 films, including Pirates of the Caribbean and Batman, The Dark Knight. The store is located on 279 Dutton Street. To find out more, check out their website here.


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Purple Carrot Bread Co.

Located at 250 Jackson Street, Purple Carrot Bread Company focuses on fresh, hearth style European breads with no chemicals or preservatives. Purple Carrot also specializes in savory and rustic pastries such as scones, croissants and cookies. Their breads are dairy free and mostly vegan. Some exciting news from Purple Carrot is they will be opening a full service cafe on Merrimack Street that will include their current products along with fresh soups, salads and hand carved sandwiches. Keep an eye out for their opening date here, or on their Facebook.


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Sweet Lydia's

What started out as an experiment is now a business that is a staple in many people's homes. Sweet Lydia's, located at 160 Merrimack street, creates one-of-a-kind s'mores. These delicious sweets have won the editor's choice food award from Yankee Magazine and have also been featured on WCVB. Sweet Lydia's offers care packages, gift boxes, and wedding favors. Check out all the different sweets Lydia's has to offer in person, or here on their website!


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Breweries

We have two breweries here in Lowell. Merrimack Ales, lcoated at 92 Bolt Street, is open for tastings every day of the week with varying hours. Merrimack Ales has their beers in different stores and restaurants around the area, so if you cannot make it to the tap room, you'll have plenty of opportunity to taste test at a local spot! Check out more about  their beers and the Hypothesis Series here.

The second brewery is Navigation Brewing located at Western Ave. Studios. Navigation just celebrated their fourth anniversary, and they are open Thursday through Sunday with varying hours. When the taproom is open, there will typically be a food truck or food vendor for you and your friends to enjoy while tasting craft brews. Navigation just created a new series called the Uncharted Series to which new brews are added monthly. To find out more about Navigation Brewing, click here.

Get Inspired in Lowell

Lowell is home to many artists, musicians, actors and other creative people. Having all this creative spirit generates a vibrant atmosphere that continues to help local artists follow their dreams and do what they love. Here are some ways that people in the City of Lowell can help inspire you as well.


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Art

From the month of March through May, local artist Dave Phaneuf’s work will be on display at TreMonte Pizzeria. Dave’s work is of local buildings and reflects his love of historic architecture and recording of subtle street views. His work is done in detailed pen and ink, enabling you to see the beauty in something you may have previously seen as mundane. Find out more about Dave's display here.  Another local artist, Scott Stephens, will have his work on display from March through May as well. Scott’s artwork will be displayed at the Mandarin Asian Bistro. Scott, a graduate of Lowell High, is showing his intricately layered collages that are inspired by his music, travels and his studies at Mass College of Art. Check out Scott’s work and challenge your mind to interpret these elaborate collages. Find out more about Scott's display here.

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Western Avenue Studios is a five acre complex that nurtures the arts and artists. The complex has three buildings that consist of 250 work only studios, 50 live/work lofts and cooperative artist run gallery, The Onyx Room Performance space. Whitsett Guitar Works and Navigation Brewing Company are also located here. Western Ave Studios has created an inspiring and supportive community for the artists who utilize their spaces, and many of them host classes in their studio. There is a wide range in the types of classes you can take. If you want to experience this creative hub for yourself, check out their website here.

An exhibit that incorporates both art and history opens on March 24th at the Mogan Cultural Center. The Branding Lowell exhibit will highlight the branding and design used in Lowell since its founding in 1836 up until the present day. Many of the local artists will be in attendance on opening day.


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Music

The Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra provides classical and pops music, and provides concerts that are comfortable and engaging for all ages. Founded in 1987, they have performed all around the greater Merrimack Valley, with a mission to inspire others through music, foster future generations of musicians and music lovers by actively encouraging area youth to become involved with local music. The LPO incorporates young musicians into their winter family concert each year and high school students are encouraged to join.

The Hearing Room is an art center and listening room that hosts regular events for local artists to share their work. Every Tuesday, they host an open mic night that welcomes music, poetry, storytelling, or comedy, encouraging original material. On Thursday’s The Hearing Room hosts a “mostly acoustic jam” where all levels of experience, genres, ages, and voices are welcome. Twice a month there is a songwriters club that makes sharing your materials and getting feedback (if you want) much easier as this event is informal and supportive. For more events at The Hearing Room, click here.

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The Luna Theater is another spot that offers regular events. Every Thursday, the Luna  hosts the “Luna Sessions,” with live jazz music being played by some of the most talented local artists. They also host “Weirdo Wednesdays,” an evening of Cult Cinema from all eras and multiple genres. This event is free and you don’t know what will be showing until 7:30 PM on Wednesday nights! Keep up with the events at the Luna Theater by checking our calendar.

Celebrating Irish Culture in Lowell

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


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


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


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


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

Lowell in the Movies

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

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


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The Invention of Lying

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


The Fighter

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


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Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

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

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Proud Mary

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


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School Ties (side note) 

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