Best of the Day: Lowell Folk Festival – July 24, 2015

The country’s longest-running free folk festival returns for three days of multicultural music and food.

Welcome to Best of the Day, our daily recommendation for what to check out around town. If you do one thing in Boston today, consider this.

Lowell Folk Festival 2014

Lowell Folk Festival 2014 / Courtesy photo by Rich Pizzuti, via Lowell Folk Festival

This weekend brings us a tale of two folk festivals: To our south, there’s the Newport Folk Festival, featuring the likes of Roger Waters, Sufjan Stevens, Hozier, and the Decemberists—and it’s hella sold out. To our north, there’s the Lowell Folk Festival, which bills itself as “the longest-running free folk festival in the country,” which is open to the public all weekend long.

For their 29th year, the fest takes over downtown Lowell, featuring five stages of traditional music. Performers include the Original Pinettes Brass Band, a female-fronted New Orleans brass band; Los Cambalache, who play infectiously upbeat son jarocho tunes from Veracruz, Mexico; The Fairfield Four, a Southern gospel group that’s been around since 1921 (and made a brief cameo in O Brother, Where Art Thou?); and American-born South Indian dance prodigy Mythili Prakash.

But this fest is not just a feast for the ears—food plays a major role in the weekend’s festivities, and the same massive diversity reflected in the music lineup is also apparent in the menu. The fact that Lowell is a haven for some of the best under-the-radar ethnic cuisine around will come as no surprise to anyone who’s made a pilgrimage to Spindle City just to stuff themselves silly on the sublime South Indian fare at Middlesex Street’s Udupi Bhavan. This weekend, visitors can stamp their gastronomic passports by trying Greek, Polish, Asian, Latin, Jamaican, and Burmese dishes from the many vendors who’ll be stationed around every performance stage.

Free, July 24-26, Downtown Lowell,