The Hippo


Jul 20, 2019








The Snowzilla Slide at the Lowell WinterFest. Courtesy photo.

Lowell WinterFest

Where: Various locations in Lowell, Mass.
When: Friday, Feb. 19, and Saturday, Feb. 20. See website for full schedule of events. 
Cost: Free admission. Some events and activities have a fee and/or require registration. 
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A wintery weekend
Lowell WinterFest offers outdoor winter fun

By Angie Sykeny

 Even the most dedicated winter-haters may find it hard to stay inside during the 16th Annual Lowell WinterFest, happening Friday, Feb. 19, and Saturday, Feb. 20. With entertainment, a carnival, food and drink events, kids’ activities and more throughout the city, the event spreads the idea that winter isn’t just something to tolerate — it’s something to celebrate. 

“With the fire pits and outdoor bars and marshmallow roasting, it pushes people outside to take advantage of the winter instead of staying indoors,” said Susan Halter, director of the Lowell Cultural Affairs/Special Events Office and the Cultural Organization of Lowell. “It’s a winter festival that truly celebrates winter.” 
The festival kicks off Friday with ice skating, crafts and kids’ programs part of Lowell Kids Week.
The WinterFest Opening Ceremony takes place at Arcand Drive at 5:30 p.m., along with a ribbon-cutting for the festival’s new Winter Carnival (open until 9 p.m.). The carnival features a 30-foot inflatable Snowzilla Slide, a carousel, food trucks and marshmallow roasting.
To replace the popular Human Dog Sled Race, which has been discontinued after ongoing challenges with snow conditions, there will be a new Extreme Rush inflatable obstacle course with two tracks so people can race each other. The competitor with the best time from both days will win a prize. 
The hotspot for Friday evening is Lucy Larcom Park, with the Merrimack Canal light display serving as a backdrop. The display is part of the launch of Lowell’s new year-round lighting program, which will provide light displays with customized patterns and colors to emphasize special events and holidays.
“That’s one of the big highlights to look for this year,” Halter said. “The park is going to be beautiful.” 
From 5:30 to 11:30 p.m., the park will have food and beverage tents, music, an outdoor ice bar and fire pits. You can also watch an ice sculpture demonstration or catch the Cirque de Light performance duo’s partner poi fire show.
The Progressive Party and Beer Tasting ($25 in advance, $30 at the door) starts at 6 p.m. in the park, where attendees can sample locally made craft brews, then head into downtown to sample more at participating businesses.
Glow all out for the black-light GLOW Party ($2) at the Masonic Center from 6 to 8 p.m., for all ages, and 9 to 11:30 p.m., for 18+. There will be performances, a DJ and an appearance by the WinterFest mascot Lowla, a fluorescent bear who loves to boogie.
Start Saturday with wildlife tracking, maple sugaring or a horse-drawn wagon ride. The carnival will be open noon to 7 p.m., and Lucy Larcom Park will be open noon to 11:30 p.m., with the same festivities as Friday. 
Bring the kids to Lowell High School from noon to 5 p.m., for the Indoor Family Play Space, featuring games, music, crafts, entertainment and a model train display. Frozen fans, head to the Visitor Center for a Frozen craft at 2 p.m. and a showing of the movie at 4:30 p.m.
Indulge your sweet tooth at the All-You-Can-Eat Chocolate Festival ($6) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., or vote for your favorite soup at the North Bowl Soup Competition ($6) from noon to 3 p.m. 
Evening events include a belly dancing class and the Beer and Electro-Acoustic Music Pairing Contest ($30, $25 for students, free for non-drinkers) at 7 p.m., where you can sample craft beers accompanied by music to enhance the experience.
Both days will have free music and comedy shows as well as the Snowman Photo Trail where you can tour the decorated snowmen in the windows of downtown businesses, then strike a pose at a dozen different photo boards painted by Lowell artists.
The WinterFest Closing Ceremony & Grand Finale will take place at Arcand Drive at 6:30 p.m. 
“February can be a hard month for people,” Halter said. “The holidays are over but we’re still deep in snow, so [WinterFest] is a great way to get out, get rid of cabin fever and have fun outside in the winter.” 

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