After experiencing terrific success with the National Folk Festival three years in a row, the city of Lowell, MA decided to take on the task of hosting their own folk festival, and in 1990, the Lowell Folk Festival was established.
The three day event, usually held the third weekend in July, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors over the course of the Festival. The Festival itself takes place on six stages throughout the city of Lowell, and it features some of the best folk music performers in the country.
The Lowell Folk Festival is a free event, and it kicks off on a Friday night with a dance party featuring some of the weekend performers. This entertaining family event is produced by the City of Lowell, the Lowell Festival Foundation, the Lowell National Historical Park, and the National Council for Traditional Arts.
The Festival organizing committee encourages traditional and ethnic musicians to apply for a spot to perform during the Festival. Performers can submit a biography along with an audio or videotape of their work, and they will be considered for a performance in front of thousands of visitors.
All of the stages are outdoors, although some events take place inside the Tsongas Arena. Festival goers are welcome to stay at one stage for the entire day or they can move throughout the city to the various stages – all at no cost. There are stages in both sunny and shaded areas, and headline performances generally go on stage late in the evening, although there are many performances throughout the day.
In addition to the music, the Festival features ethnic foods of every variety. Many Lowell cultural organizations and churches use the festival as an opportunity to display their culinary delights and raise money for their causes. Some of the ethnic fare available at the festival includes Polish, Thai, Greek, Jamaican, and Soul food. There is definitely something for every palate, including the less adventurous looking for just a hot dog!
Billed as an event for the whole family, the festival also has an area that features craft demonstrations as well as craft vendors and an area where there are family activities. Past events especially geared towards children have included soapbox derby races, sand sculpturing, and various fun contests.
The Lowell Folk Festival also has a unique distinction among similar festivals and other large-scale events. This Festival has a 95 percent waste diversion rate, thanks to the assistance of a team of approximately 130 volunteers. Families are encouraged to bring their children to help with the sorting of recyclable materials, and children are rewarded with a button for their participation. The Lowell Folk Festival is used as a national model for its success in the area of recycling at such a large event.
Whether you are looking for Irish singing and dancing, traditional Armenian music, classic reggae, Latin dance, or honky-tonk, you are likely to find it at the Lowell Folk Festival. This is the oldest free festival of its kind in the United States, and the city of Lowell knows how to put on a wonderful event!
To plan your trip to the Festival, allow Lowell.com to help find special Lowell.com hotel rates and locate the perfect restaurant to satisfy your hunger in the Lowell Restaurant Guide. You’ll love Lowell!
Lowell Folk Festival Address
Lowell Folk Festival
67 Kirk Street
Lowell, MA 01852