Lowell’s downtown area has come a long way musically in the last few years but nothing compares to the weekend long street party that is the annual Folk Festival. Every year, in the last weekend of July, the streets are closed to traffic, stages are set up throughout, ethnic food stands line the pavements and the bars and cafes spill out into the streets with live entertainment. Downtown Lowell hosts the largest open air free festival in the US, and this being its 25th, was in my opinion, the biggest and wildest of all.
Bands from all over the world come to play. Irish music, Ethiopian and Greek music, Cambodian, Argentinian, Hawaiian and the always infectious, Zydeco. Schedules are set so you can wander aimlessly and still catch everything. Hundreds of thousands of people wander aimlessly. Music is everywhere. Barbecue smoke dances in the breeze. It’s not everyday you get to hear Inuit throat singing next to authentic Argentinian tango. Bluegrass, Western Swing, Texas fiddling, Blues and Boogie-Woogie piano are there for the purists. It’s all there. With 25 years behind them, Lowell knows how to throw one great party. As the locals say, there IS a lot to like about Lowell.