Art & Culture

November in Lowell: Seasonal Shopping and Art

November’s arrival foreshadows the holiday season, bringing new opportunities to explore and shop for arts and crafts that are unique to Lowell. These handmade items serve as gifts for friends and family, others as festive decorations for the upcoming holidays.

Western Avenue Studios

Western Avenue Studio’s (WAS) November open studios this Saturday, November 2nd, begins the holiday season. Open Studio provides opportunities to examine WAS Artists’ distinctive art styles and gives attendees insight into each artist’s inspiration and creativity. Every Saturday, until the end of November, from noon – 5 p.m. the studio will have art on display for viewing and purchasing, providing locally handmade gifts, alongside gift-able art classes. This Saturday, Wretched Hive Creations will have a few highly detailed projects on display, such as “The Bith Hands,” that show the ability to make art as detailed as possible.

If you need a break from WAS browsing and shopping, checkout Navigation Brewing. The brewery, a part of WAS, provides a taproom for specialty, rotating ales and seasonal brews. Opening at 2 p.m. every day, the taproom is often accompanied by a food truck providing local eats.

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Mill No. 5

Coffee and Cotton, Mill No. 5’s café, provides locals with coffee, espresso, lattes, and an open mic for those interested in a warm drink and some live entertainment. Every first Saturday of the month, Santi C performs on stage at the café, providing entertaining covers of hit songs by pop artists. Every second Saturday of the month, the same mic opens for LGBTQ+ talent giving professionals and amateur performers a chance to share their poetry, dancing, and songwriting.

A Little Bazaar continues to open pop-ups of unique hand-crafted goods, clothing, and treats. The Makers Market, opening Saturday November 9th at noon, supports the best local designers who provide high-quality apparel, jewelry, ceramics and more.

            Return to Mill No.5 the following Saturday, November 16th, for the opening of the Hibernate Marketplace & Caturday. With support by the Lowell Humane Society, this marketplace helps celebrate all things cozy and comfy.

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Gallery Z

Gallery Z begins their holiday season with a holiday gift market on Saturday November 9th. This marketplace includes handmade crafts, paintings, pottery, jewelry, and floral arrangements. The market supports local businesses while giving locals the chance to stock up on decorations and gifts for friends and family. The artist co-operative sells paintings by New England artists, using different genres and mediums, providing options for unique interests.

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Brush Art Gallery and Studios

The Brush Art Gallery continues to provide museum quality exhibits, educational programs, and shopping opportunities for Lowell. With the goal of keeping visual arts alive, the gallery demonstrates the diverse culture and skills of local artists, making it a destination for everyone to enjoy. Open each day, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. the Brush features nine different studios and shops that create and sell paintings, jewelry, quilts, cards, ceramics, and other gifts in time for the holiday spirit.

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New England Quilt Museum Shop and ALL Gallery

For more creative shopping, visit the New England Quilt Museum (NEQM) for an array of fabrics transformed into sculptures, quilts, and clothing. The gallery has preserved more than 400 antique and contemporary quilts along with sewing machines, clothing, bags, cards, and other items. The quilts are spread over two floors, varying in size, color, and shape, creating detailed story-telling art rather than bed pieces. The NEQM shop offers a variety of options including jewelry, books, plushies, bags, and much more

The ALL Gallery also has artwork for sale for those looking for special gifts by local artists. Just next door to the gallery, Van Gogh’s Gear provides art and drawing supplies for the artist on your list. Offering quality brushes, paper, paints, and canvases, Van Gogh’s supplies carries essential tools for painters, drawers, and crafters of every skill level.

Expanding Lowell's Public Art collection

Recent unveilings of public art has peaked interest on the number of new projects being created and raised awareness of existing pieces. Lowell’s public art collection includes several styles that highlight unique city themes. The new pieces create evocative perspectives of the city’s skyline, color palette, and history.

Lowell in Color, Skyline, and Hydro

“Lowell in Color,” a bright and colorful collage of city landmarks, was recently installed at the Joseph M. Downes Parking Garage on John Street. The piece, by artist Frank Casazza, interprets and represents city images and icons with a bright color palette. Another addition is “Skyline,” a series of 3 panels that represent abstract images of Lowell skylines. Created by artist Andrew Szava-Kovats, “Skyline” combines actual Lowell buildings with imaginary and creative elements to emphasize the dominant brick surfaces of downtown in contrast with the colorful atmosphere. Both projects were initiated and coordinated by the Cultural Affairs and Special Events office (CASE) with the Cultural Organizations of Lowell’s Creative Committee providing review and recommendations of submissions. “Lowell in Color” was supported by Lowell’s Parking Department.

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These pieces follow the September unveiling of “Hydro” by artist Nancy Selvage. This Cultural Organization of Lowell (COOL) project was initiated in 2011, and is a major art piece in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District’s Utopian Park. The sculpture, “creates a playful interactive experience for children to explore the journey of water flowing and swirling through a ‘turbine’ gateway that confidently strides forward to greet and embrace the public,” said Selvage.

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Lowell Public Art Walk

To quote City Manager Eileen Donoghue, “coming upon an original work of art in unexpected places is a wonderful and surprising way to discover the work of our creative community.”

Artists have long created art that has become familiar sites for Lowellians over the years. Lowell’s public art collection includes 15 plus pieces throughout downtown.

Examples include,The Kerouac Commemorative, within Eastern Canal Park on Bridge Street, honors hometown author Jack Kerouac and his literary accomplishments.

The Dutton Street Mural, created in the 70’s, depicts life for the Irish in Lowell. Decatur Way, a walkway and art space features murals from local artists, poetry installations, and pavement pigment drawings. The collection includes sculptures depicting life in Lowell, its history, and its imagery through various forms. Sculptures include “The Worker,” a depiction of an Irish canal worker in Mack Plaza; “The Lowell Sculptures,” three pieces of industrial symbols at Boarding House Park; “Agapetime,” a piece “that symbolizes a universal tribute to the family [Tsongas] and those families of immigrant heritage” at Lower Locks; “Homage to Women,” celebrates the contributions of women in the 19th century; and a James McNeil Whistler statue next to the Whistler House museum on Worthen Street. These sculptures appear throughout several locations in Lowell and provide milestones and memorials for the history and continued progression of the city.

For more information visit the Public Art page on LikeLowell.

Kiwanis Club, Monster Bash, and the Oddity Marketplace

Kiwanis Club of Greater Lowell has been serving the community since 1917, dedicating thousands of volunteer hours to assist youth in the city and promote growth. To celebrate over 100 years of service, the “100 for 100” scholarship campaign is in place to provide scholarships in the Merrimack Valley in honor of Henry G. Sykes, a Kiwanis volunteer for over 50 years. As a result, several scholarships have been awarded to students to encourage them to further their education. The club has been involved with several events and programs in Lowell such as, Bringing up Grades, Bike Safety Rodeo, and Halloween’s Monster Bash.

The annual Halloween event, Monster Bash, taking place next Saturday October 26th from 12-3 p.m. Monster Bash celebrates Halloween by transforming Lowell High School into a haunted house, with a costume contest, and a variety of family activities and local food. Monster Bash includes a downtown trick-or-treat trail to participating downtown businesses. The stroll is the perfect opportunity to trick-or-treat and experience Lowell in a spooky atmosphere.

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If you are looking for more places to trick-or-treat, Mill No. 5 also opens its businesses and marketplace to tick-or-treaters on October 26th, from 12 to 4 p.m. Trick-or-Treat Yo’self will have an arrangement of self-care goods available in the market place on the 5th floor, with the 4th floor being reserved for the trick-or-treating. The Oddity Market opens again on November 2nd at 12 – 4 p.m. to finish the theme of the strange and dark.

The official City of Lowell trick-or-treating hours will be on October 31st from 6 – 8 p.m.

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Seasonal Art: Exhibits,Museums, and Galleries

Lowell’s art scene has generated great interest in recent years. Galleries, studios, and museums have grown in numbers, offering interpretations for several genres of visual art. They’re hosting a number of exhibits during the month of October.

The Loading Dock Gallery (LDG) presents Repetition, Replication, Variation. This exhibit focuses on using repetition of patterns and shapes within imagery to create a unique aesthetic meant to showcase the evolution of art using elements of contrast and other techniques. This show conveys a message of creativity, sparking new ideas and emotions for the viewer. Repetition, Replication, Variation begins October 2nd and runs until the 27th. Following this show, LDG presents Orbs: Spheres of Unity from October 30th through December 1st. This presentation observes the significance of circular shapes that create a unifying principle. These shapes hold complexity, but portray perfection, balance, and unification. Discover how these shapes play a role in the world.

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The Ayer Lofts Art Gallery is a high-ceiling gallery designed to present several pieces of artwork within a well-lit room. Their exhibits consist of local artwork that evokes emotion, challenges minds, and creates welcoming atmospheres. The gallery, opened in 2000, invites select groups of Lowell artists for annual shows, and presents live music, dance performances, and student projects. Local artist Steve Clements will have several pieces of his artwork on display from October 4th until October 27th. The exhibit is open 12 to 4 p.m. on each day throughout the month.

“Benefits of the Lowell’s Urban Environment” is a series of activities raising awareness of Lowell’s urban setting. Arranged by The Brush Art Gallery and Studios, the events run until April of 2020 in partnership with the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust, Lowell Cemetery, Lowell National Historical Park, and Lowell High School. The Quiet World of Aging, a collection of observations by Melinda Reyes, shows facial photographs of the elderly, depicting themes of beauty, sorrow, joy, despair, and dignity. The exhibit takes viewers “into direct contact with a diversity of emotions within the aging process.”

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Macabre, an art show by local artists’ co-op, Gallery Z, begins on October 3rd and runs until October 31st with a reception on Saturday October 12th. The exhibit introduces grim forms of artwork perfect as Halloween approaches. Several exhibits will open daily until Halloween Night. Following on Saturday the 26th, Gallery Z’s A Hell Raising Fundraiser opens from 7 to 10 p.m. This event celebrates the gallery’s 5th year by presenting visual and performing arts by Lowell artists. The event includes raffles, a costume contest, food, music, and an Edgar Allen Poe reading by Leo Jordan’s Balefire performers.

Tom Gill brings his collection of oil paintings to TreMonte Ice Bar and Pizzeria at the end of October. The collection Impressions: New Work, by the Lowell artist, highlights city life through glimpses of events, street views, landscapes, and gatherings.

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The Arts League of Lowell (ALL) wraps up Earth, Wind, & Fiber mid-October; the event examines pottery, artwork, and quilts by Paula Eldridge, Pamela Wamala, and Louise Abbot. Hosted at All Greenwald Gallery, the company encourages and supports the art local creators make. Exposed 2019: Black & White, the succeeding exhibit, showcases black and white photography until November 10th. This juried exhibition emphasizes the effect of this method of photography that has become stylized in recent years.

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The New England Quilt Museum (NEQM) hosts artist, Sue Bleiweiss, to demonstrate how fusible web, a man-made fiber, can be used in several applications. She shows how to add color, apply metal and foil to fabric, and how to transfer shape outlines. Learn expert techniques in quilt making on Thursday, November 7th. NEQM is also open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for quilt exhibits.

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The Whistler House Museum of Art galleries are open every Wednesday and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. The Whistler’s galleries include a large collection of 19th and 20th century paintings by artists like Marie Danforth Page, Mary Earl Wood, and William S. Elwell. The galleries are on three floors, including a main gallery and “Francis room,” showing artwork inspired by Lowell. The museum also hosts a special exhibit until October 26th, Titled, Fiber Fusions, an exploration of quilted creations by contemporary quilt creators. The focus is on how fiber and related materials are fused together to form creative works of art.

Lowell: Tours, History, and Trolleys

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 Food Tours, Lowell Walks, and Bird Watching

October has a wide variety of walks and tours to get us moving as the weather cools down. Opportunities to examine and explore the historical city will give new perspectives of how Lowell’s mill manufacturing city developed over the years. Off the Beaten Path brings their unique food tour to Lowell. The tour explores restaurants and history, to share delicious food and support local businesses. Off the Beaten Path’s Mill No. 5 specialty food tour opens in November with Sunday tours beginning at 3 p.m. The tour of local and independent restaurants allows for a unique opportunity to discuss the history of mills that have now been renovated. Learn about bitters, vinegars, pastries, milk shakes, soda, and a wide variety of cheeses made by local businesses.

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            Continuing the movement, two upcoming walks in early October explore Lowell and explore history in a unique way. Beginning with the Lowell Cemetery Mausoleum Walk, tour guides will lead you to seven different mausoleums and other notable monuments within the Lowell cemetery. This self-paced tour begins from Knapp Avenue or Lawrence Street gates where guides will help point you in the right direction and share stories of the monuments and the people interred within them. This tour begins October 5th at 10 a.m. and runs to 1 p.m.

            Following the Mausoleum tour, the Lowell Cemetery hosts a bird watching event presented by The Brush Art Gallery and Studios and is part of a series of activities to bring awareness to urban environments. Funded by the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation, this event starts at 8 a.m. on October 6th.

            Finally, another Lowell walk focuses on Ben Butler. A 90 minute walk around downtown visits several places that influenced the life of Benjamin F. Butler, a Civil War general, governor of Massachusetts, and member of Congress. The tour begins at 1 p.m. on October 12th and runs to 2:30.

For more info visit

Lowell Parks

Lowell Walks: Ben Butler

Lowell Walks: Cemetery Walk

Off the Beaten Path

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Lowell National Historical Park Tours

If you are looking for more ways to explore Lowell and its sights, the Lowell National Historical Park hosts several tours throughout October. Beginning with the Archaeology of a Textile Mill Walking Tour on October 5th and a second tour on October 19th, the event explores the insides of several prominent mills and highlights past technologies and architecture.

Following on October 11th and October 26th, Decoding Recent LGBTQ+ History in Lowell Walk focuses on important people and places within the mid-nineteen hundreds. Similarly, Wellness on the Walkways, discusses women’s history with a hike through the city that begins at the corner of Thorndike and Summer Streets. The hike visits locations where women’s suffrage activists gave lectures, held meetings, and supported their cause. This is a great opportunity to learn about local activism and follow their footsteps, honoring the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. This walk will be held on October 20th.

Finally, ending October, Wellness on the Walkways holds their downtown photography walk. Join park rangers and explore significant downtown locations for photography and historical discussion. The tour starts at the Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center on October 27th, at 10 a.m.

For more info visit the National Park Service Calendar

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The Trolley

If you prefer to relax with a movie instead of walking around Lowell, you can take in “The Trolley,” a film about the history of electric trolleys throughout several cities in America, once one of Lowell’s most memorable features.  Learn about a most amazing invention as Lowell celebrates with a trolley presentation by operator Ryan Boucher that follows the screening. Presented by the Moses Greeley Parker Lectures and the Lowell National Historical Park, the screening and presentation will be held starting at 2 p.m. on October 6th.

For more info visit Parker Lectures.

Fall Markets – Arts, Crafts, and Food

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This Saturday, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., the North Common Park & Community Garden will be home to the 8th Annual Harvest Festival to celebrate the year’s most abundant season. This free, family friendly event will celebrate the year’s harvest by showcasing food traditions with hands-on activities. The festival includes a farmer’s market, cooking and gardening demos, garden tours, and food trucks. Hosted by Mill City Grows, this event happens rain or shine.

Another market offering locally grown, healthy, and quality food, is Community Teamwork’s outdoor market which runs Fridays from 12 – 5 p.m. in the Lucy Larcom Park. Since 1979, the Lowell Farmers’ Market has provided access to fresh goods, meats, honey, and crafts right in the heart of Lowell. The urban setting is a unique contrast to the rurally produced goods. With the goal of supporting a healthy community, the market is committed to increasing access of fresh food from nearby farms to urban customers, while offering educational entertainment. Enjoy entertainment, demonstrations, and fun activities every Friday until October 25th.

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Mill No. 5’s A Little Bazaar begins the weekend on Saturday, September 28th, with The Itty Bitty. A collection of vendors will display an array of pins, stickers, patches, and jewelry. Various local artists who work with metal, fiber, and wood will offer unique wares. Boston local crafter and artist, Danielle Robichaud, will be there to show off her inspired jewelry, brainstorming process, and physical tinkering. Meet Danielle and other creative minds at A Little Bazaar on Saturday from noon till 4 p.m.

            Sundays there’s The Farm Market from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., featuring produce from local farmers and other locally sourced products that celebrate homegrown talent and experience. The Farm Market takes place year-round at Mill No. 5 strengthening the connection between local farmers and Lowellians and improving access to quality, healthy, and diverse foods. The Farm Market also hosts live music each week--this Sunday’s band is Hashtag Hoedown.       Mill No.5 begins October with Ghastly: The Oddity and Horror Marketplace. Those who are fond of the unusual will love the collections of antiques and trinkets meant to get you in the fall spirit with this market of the strange and scary. Ghastly opens on Saturday, October 5th from noon - 4 p.m.

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Early October also brings a unique art style that stands out. On Saturday and Sunday, October 6th, and 7th, Western Ave Studios hosts their monthly open studios with a large display of autumn themed artwork. From noon-5 p.m. this two day event offers shopping opportunities, the ability to meet the artists first hand, learn about the inspiration that drives them to create spookier designs. The repurposed mills will be filled with creative and seasonal themed handmade crafts, photos and art, wood and glass creations, and jewelry. Meet the large artist community while enjoying coffee and brewery pop-ups, as well as a few food trucks.

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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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.

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.

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.


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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.


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Public Parks

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


Intimate Music Venues: Where Lowell Comes to Listen

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


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The Hearing Room

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


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Coffee & Cotton

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


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Olympia’s Zorba Music Hall

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

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


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Luna Theater

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


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Cobblestones

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

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


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Warp & Weft

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

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


UnchARTed

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

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


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The Town and The City Festival

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

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

 

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

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

“Pawtucket Prism” by Michio Ihara (1989)

“Pawtucket Prism” by Michio Ihara (1989)

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

George L. Duncan Fountains (2012)

George L. Duncan Fountains (2012)

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

New Mural Decatur Way (2018)

New Mural Decatur Way (2018)

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

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

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

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

Concept art for “Hydro”

Concept art for “Hydro”

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

Foundation of “Hydro”

Foundation of “Hydro”

Fall Art Preview: Museum and Gallery Exhibits

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


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


Image courtesy of LNHP

Image courtesy of LNHP

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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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

Weekend Picks: What To Do and See in Lowell

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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.

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.


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!