Canalway Cultural District Renewal

Following the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s approval for the renewal of the Canalway Cultural District designation, the city’s district will expand to include the west side of Dutton Street along the Suffolk Canal and the Hamilton Canal District from Thorndike Street to Central Street along the Merrimack, Lower Pawtucket and Hamilton Canals. The district creates a framework to spotlight artists, performing and fine arts organizations, historic preservation groups, creative businesses and events and festivals that are part of the community.


Encompassing the heart of downtown Lowell and its canalway system, the district consists of preserved historical sites, cultural facilities, museums and galleries, performance venues, events and festivals that happen throughout the year. To facilitate moving through the district, way finder kiosks and brochures will be redesigned to include a map that highlights the district’s assets. The Cultural Affairs and Special Events office will also update the website with new district information.


District goals are to sustain and support existing artists, cultural institutions and ventures as well as encourage new cultural development, economic activity and new job creation. As a result of the restoration of most of Lowell’s historic mills and buildings, the district’s promotional success can lead to the redevelopment of remaining structures. Continued success can aid in strengthening the identity of the city and celebrating its history, diverse communities, arts and culture.


The canalway features 5.3 miles of functioning canals and were used to power the city’s mills during the Industrial Revolution. Today, the system creates electrical power as well as provides links for Lowell National Historic Park boat tours, showcases public art and can be used as a palette for special lighting of gatehouses and flowing waters. Along these canals, historic buildings and mills have been restored for commercial, residential, artistic and professional uses. Other businesses —coffee and pizza shops, restaurants, diners and retailers—are also located within the district.


The district includes the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell Memorial Auditorium, New England Quilt Museum, Whistler House Museum of Art, Brush Art Gallery and Studios, the Lowell National Historical Park and more. District events include open studios, gallery shows and festivals such as the Lowell Folk Festival, Summer Music Series, Kerouac Festival, Winterfest and many others. Upcoming events and festivals hosted in the district are sure to continue to celebrate the creative and historic aspects that make the city a diverse hub for arts and culture.

3 great reasons to kick off the Holiday Season in Lowell

The next 6 weeks (give or take) of this season that comprise "the Holidays" offer an exciting flurry of of activities! Between shopping, family time and cooking large meals, time flies by and before you know it, it's over and you'll be kicking off the New Year. 

As the month of November wraps up and we enter into the "official" start of the Holiday Season, we invite you to start shopping in Lowell and discover why There's A Lot To Like especially for the Holidays!


1. City of Lights Holiday Parade & Celebration

Ring in the holidays in Lowell and join us for this year's City of Lights Parade and Holiday Celebration! Take the afternoon to stroll the city streets and enjoy live performances, holiday shopping, photos with Santa, and more! The daytime fun leads to the nighttime extravaganza -- The City of Lights Parade and City Hall Lighting -- which marks the City's official start to the holiday season!
Free parking is available in all downtown Lowell parking garages from November 25 through 27.

Here are some of the highlights from this year's City of Light celebration:

Hot Chocolate Competition

A fun and tasty way to get into the Holiday Spirit is our 8th Annual Hot Chocolate Competition happening Saturday, November 26th from 2 to 4pm. Taste delicious hot chocolate samples at locations throughout downtown Lowell and vote for your favorite! 

Children's Shopping Day

Enjoy one-stop shopping at the Pollard Library! Select from hundreds of donated, gently-used items ranging from $1 to $5 and have your kids take advantage of a special gift wrapping service! Everyone is invited.

City of Lights Parade

Don't miss the Merrimack Valley's largest and only nighttime Holiday Parade. Get your spot along the parade route in the Canalway Cultural District of Downtown Lowell. With over 50 parade entries from classic cars and marching bands to a variety of festive floats, our parade will surely lift your spirits up!

Festival of Wreaths - Contest and Raffle

Join The Brush Art Gallery & Studios for this year's Festival of Wreaths. View and win one (or more) of over 25 beautifully decorated wreaths donated by local organizations and individuals. 

Holiday Craft Market

New in 2016, join Made In Lowell on the corner of Lucy Larcom Park and Merrimack Street for a Holiday Craft market. Enjoy locally made arts and crafts, food trucks, games and entertainment. 

2. The Canalway Cultural District

This Holiday Season discover the Canalway Cultural District in the heart of Downtown Lowell. Experience performances and entertainment at a dozen venues, or shop local at over twenty local shops. Find that special gift at over a dozen art galleries, and celebrate at one of over 40 restaurants and coffee shops.

3. Dine Out Lowell

Give your taste buds a world of flavors. From November 26 through December 4, Dine Out Lowell will showcase the many flavors that make up Lowell's Culinary scene. Enjoy a variety of restaurants and eateries in the Canalway Cultural District, Downtown Lowell and other neighborhoods. 

Some restaurants will offer special menus and discounts.

Happy Hour Parking is available after 5pm in selected downtown parking garages.