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Home / news / Keeping the Tradition: A Virtual Celebration of the Lowell Folk Festival
Keeping the Tradition: A Virtual Celebration of the Lowell Folk Festival
Photo by Pat Jarrett

Keeping the Tradition: A Virtual Celebration of the Lowell Folk Festival

Special Video Celebration of the Lowell Folk Festival: Saturday, July 25

Held in the streets of Lowell, MA for 33 years, the Lowell Folk Festival brings together tens of thousands of people in celebration of the richness of American culture and the unique spirit of the Lowell community. The festival was cancelled earlier this year due to state and local safety guidelines regarding large gatherings. To keep the tradition alive, the Lowell Folk Festival partners have created a virtual celebration of this beloved event that captures the joyous spirit and energy of the festival.

This special video presentation of the Lowell Folk Festival features musical sets from past performances and new performance sets from artists recorded exclusively for this event, as well as a brand new short documentary showcasing all that there is to love about the Lowell Folk Festival. Original performances will be provided by John Doyle & Nuala Kennedy of The Alt (Irish), Grupo Rebolu (Colombian), and Le Vent Du Nord (Québécois).

While the streets of Lowell will not be filled with traditional music, dance, food, and the cultural treasures that make up our diverse community, it is important to honor the tradition of the festival in late July.

The entire video program will be free to watch on the Lowell Folk Festival’s pages on Facebook, YouTube, and LowellFolkFestival.org on July 25 at 6:30pm. Artist bios are also available on the Lowell Folk Festival website.

Radio All Weekend

In addition to Saturday evening’s video presentation, we’re thrilled to bring you this engaging radio series from the archives.

A 13-part program, we are airing the whole series over the course of the weekend. The first three shows will be broadcast Friday evening starting at 6:30pm, with the following segments coming Saturday and Sunday at noon.

Tune in, crank up the volume, and listen to the diverse and timeless musical traditions presented at the Lowell Folk Festival over the years. The story of the Lowell Folk Festival began 34 years ago when Lowell, Massachusetts, was chosen by the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) to host the 49th, 50th, and 51st National Folk Festivals (1987–1989).

Building upon the National’s highly successful three-year residency, a group of community partners and the NCTA launched the Lowell Folk Festival in 1990, an annual celebration that has become one of New England’s most important cultural events. Originally aired in 1999, THE LOWELL FOLK FESTIVAL is a 13-part series of public radio programs produced for national distribution by WDUQ-FM Pittsburgh, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Hosted by the NCTA’s longtime director and guiding light, the inimitable Joe Wilson (1938–2015), they feature a diverse array of exciting live musical performances from the festival’s earlier years—Irish, rockabilly, bluegrass, gospel, zydeco, blues, plena, Cajun, stringed instrument virtuosos, music from the Caribbean, the Canadian Maritimes, Appalachia, New Orleans, and much more.

During the series, as the story of the Lowell Folk Festival unfolds, you’ll hear the voices of individuals who, in the early years, worked to build this beloved and enduring cultural celebration, one that is quintessentially “Lowell.”

Thanks to WESA-FM Pittsburgh for permission to rebroadcast the series.

The radio show will be on LowellFolkFestival.org, 980 WCAP, and social media channels all weekend long.

Check out the brochure for THE LOWELL FOLK FESTIVAL below.