Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Six Reasons You Should Come to Lowell this Weekend

Downtown Lowell is the place to be this weekend. The Lowell Folk Festival is celebrating its 30th year as the longest running free folk festival in the country. Need more reasons?

Crowds Checking Out the Food Booths
Here are six reasons to come to Lowell during folk festival weekend:

1. Food!

Tour the world's traditional cuisines without leaving downtown. Local churches and nonprofits showcase their ethnic food traditions to raise money for their community programs. My personal favorite is the loobie and rooz from St. George's Antiochian Orthodox Church. They have a way with green beans that I've never experienced anywhere else. Perennial crowd favorites are the lumpia and the turon from Iskwelahang Pilipino and the pierogi from the Lowell Polish Cultural Committee.

Mouthwatering Loobie & Rooz from St. George's

2. Learn to Make Pierogis

Did you enjoy those pierogis from the Polish Cultural Committee? This year you can learn to make them in the Foodways demonstration area. The demos this year range from the aforementioned pierogis to Jamaican fish tea and Chinese noodle making.

3. Baklava Sundaes

The baklava sundaes from the Hellenic American Academy PTA are the most anticipated sweet treat of the entire folk festival. I know people who come to the festival just for the baklava sundaes. You have not experienced Lowell Folk Festival if you have not had a baklava sundae.
Flat Frost and Flat Basho Enjoying Baklava Sundae at the 2015 Lowell Folk Festival
4. Beautiful Downtown Lowell

Folk Festival is the perfect time to check out the Mill City's red brick mills, canals, public art, three (count them three!) vinyl record stores,  the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Mill No. 5 (you have to experience it to understand), art galleries, art in the park, and did I mention record stores?

Beautiful Downtown View

5. unchARTed

This combination gastropub and art gallery serves up amazingly delicious pizza. They're having a Festival Friday event featuring an absolutely amazing lineup of performers. That's not all, there's a Festival Saturday event too! And it features even more fantastic performers including Jen Kearney, D-Tension, and more.

unchARTed Territory on Market Street
Crowd Enjoying Pizza and Art at unchARTed

6. Music Music Music Music Music!

This year's Folk Festival lineup features Nigerian musical icon King Sunny Ade & His African Beats. That's reason enough to come. This is his first North American tour since 2009 and he's playing to sold out venues all over the US and Canada. You get to hear him for free. This is big.

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are bringing the Cape Breton traditional music. Ana Lains brings Portuguese fado. Oh, and there's Chicago blues, Inuit throat singing, Iraqi oud, polka, Peking opera, gospel ... you get the idea: traditional music of the world!

There's dance too. That goes with music, right? You do not want to miss Lowell's own Angkor Dance Troupe, a true cultural treasure featuring traditional Cambodian classical dance as well as folk dances. Angkor Dance is reason enough to come to Lowell anytime they're performing. Take advantage of this opportunity. Do not miss it.

Angkor Dance
Still need more music? Besides the amazing lineup of musicians on the Folk Festival stages, there will be music all over the place. Restaurants, bars, coffee shops and the streets all add to the musical landscape. Besides the unchARTed events I mentioned,  you can check out local favorite Reverend JJ and the Casual Sinners at the Athenian Corner on Sunday. And you never know when the Gentleman Songsters might show up on a street corner or in a restaurant.

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