33rd Annual Lowell Folk Festival is Set for Friday July 26-28, 2019

Lowell Folk Festival will hold its 33rd Annual celebration on July 26-28, a 3 days of festivities of music, dance, food, crafts, and artisans. Lowell downtown will be closing off several streets beginning from Central and Merrimack St, Market Street and Dutton Street, Shattuck Street, and French St.

Japanese drummers performed during Lowell Folk Festival in 2014. KhmerPost USA File Photo.

The event has drawn 150,000 people annually. It will begin at 6:30 pm on Friday, July 26 with a parade from Lowell City Hall to the Boarding House Park. All communities come together and carry the flags representing their countries. It is open to public. People can show up at City Hall and participate in the parade. Attendees may wear traditional dress, cheer on their countries in the parade to the Boarding House Park where the concert will open 7:15pm. Dutton/Broadway Street stage will kick off at the same time. Artists will be performing live at three other stages throughout the weekend at JFK Plaza, St. Anne’s Church and Market Street. The festival will end at 5pm on Sunday.

“Come on down. It’s a real opportunity to see Lowell in grandeur of traditional music, food, crafts, and dances and it’s all free. I think of the festival is of something for everyone. If you love music, there are music from around the world; if you love food, there are street vendors from many different ethnic groups, they are cooking for churches and community groups; if you like crafts there are artisan crafts, and if you like Lowell you can visit destinations in Lowell” said Superintendent of Lowell National Historic Parks Celeste Bernardo with excitement.

Lowell National Historic Park’s Superintendent Celeste Bernardo speaks at the opening of 2015 Lowell Folk Festival. On Stage joins by elected officials and festival partners. From Left to Right: Deb Belanger, Danniel McFadden, Councilor Jim Millinazo, Representative Rady Mom, Warren Shaw, Mayor Rodney Elliott, City Manager Kevin Murphy, and Councilor Corey Belanger. KhmerPost USA File Photo

Originally, the Boarding House was a parking lot, part the Lowell industrial mills in the 1830s. In the 1970s, under Senator Paul Tsongas leadership, the Lowell Historic Preservation Commission set up by the Federal Government began to work with Lowell National Park Service to revitalize Lowell. “This commission worked with the developers to restore and redeveloped downtown. They built the trolly, Boarding House Park among many things. The mission was to serve as a catalyst to revitalize Lowell. They looked at the existing art, music, culture, food, history, schools, and churches in the ways how we used them” she added “they looked at the diversity that brings to Lowell from different countries”.

Cambodian community members participates in the parade from Lowell City Hall to the Boarding House Park. KhmerPost USA File Photo 2015.


The commission partnered with the National Council for Traditional Art and brought the National Folk Festival to Lowell which was a big deal, added Superintendent Bernardo. Lowell continued the legacy for the next 33 years. Lowell Folk Festival is the second largest free folk festival in the country today. [clear]

Audience enjoys the performance at Boarding House Park. KhmerPost USA File Photo

[clear]Kevin Dwyer, Executive Director of the Lowell Folk Festival Foundation said “I feel truly honored to be able to continue the legacy of this festival. This festival is such an important event for this area and this community.

I think it’s so wonderful that we get a chance every year to come together to learn about and celebrate each other’s traditions. Every dance, every bite of food, every artistic tradition that we learn about brings us closer together as a community. And I am so proud that we get to do this right in our own backyard every year.”

Southeast Asian food stand. KhmerPost USA File photo.

Crowds enjoy street “pop culture dance”.


View of John Street during peak hours in early afternoon during the festival weekend in 2017. KhmerPost USA File photo.


When speaking of Lowell Folk Festival, many Lowellians shared fond memories of the late Executive Director Craig Gate who passed suddenly at age 65 in 2017. When asked how it was like to take over Craig’s responsibilities, without a hesitation Kevin shared his thoughts “it was very hard to step into Craig’s shoes. For one, I only had four months to get everything ready for my first festival last year. Most people don’t realize that it’s a year round full time job to organize this festival, so it was hard to have to do all of that in a third of the time! It’s impossible to learn all of the ins and outs of the specific details that go on during the festival in four months – I don’t know if it can even be done in four years! But since last year I’ve learned more and more about how to set up a smooth, fun event for the community. The more that I’ve learned, the more that I’ve begun to feel I can help more people get involved with the festival, and that’s been the really rewarding part.”

This year’s festival performances include diverse artists such as Vieux Parke Toure, Saharan blues; Grupo Cimarron, Columbian joropo music, and bluegrass by Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; Albert Lee, rockabilly; Himalayan Heritage Band, Nepali music; Walter “Wolfman” Washington & The Roadmasters, punk and R&B; and Yamini Kalluri & The Carnatic Ensemble, Kuchipudi dance just to name a few. For complete artists’ line up and performance schedule, visit: http://lowellfolkfestival.org 

Photo Courtesy by Lowell Folk Festival. Music Band: Grupo Cimarron, Columbian joropo music is one amongst many performers at the 2018 Folk Festival. For complete schedule visit: www.lowellfolkfestival.org

Kevin shared his biggest aspiration is to keep the festival free, and to make sure it will be sustainable for years to come. He would love see the return of some of his favorite artists from past festivals; like King Sunny Ade or Sun Ra’s Arkestra.