The HOWL! Festival

HOWL! banner.  Image courtesy of the HOWL! Festival.

HOWL! banner. Image courtesy of the HOWL! Festival.

Historically, the Village and East Village have always been the place for artists, writers, performers, and a slew of other creatives in New York City, a fact that is widely celebrated as one of the area’s defining characteristics.  The HOWL! Festival is a celebration of this history.  Founded in 20013 and named for long time East Village resident Allen Ginsberg’s famous poem, the mission of the HOWL! Festival is “to honor, develop, create and produce,” as well as to “celebrate local cultural icons and lionize, preserve, and advance the art, history, culture, and counterculture unique to the East Village and Lower East Side.”

As the Village and East Village continue to change, The HOWL! Festival becomes a testament to the East Village and Lower East Side’s bohemian character.  The festival itself takes place in and around the East Village and Lower East Side with Tompkins Square Park serving as a focal point.  Major attractions include the Art Around the Park, where “140 artists of all ages turns an 8 foot high, 900 foot long blank ‘canvas’ encircling the exterior of Tompkins Square Park into an explosion of color and creativity.” Tompkins Square Park also houses the HOWL! Stage, where the majority of the performances and events of the festival take place.  There is also the festival’s closing show Low Life, which features a new theme every year.  For their 10th year in 2013, the Low Life show titled “Great Ladies Of The Lower East Side” drew it’s inspiration from “the storied history of the East Village and The Lower East Side… made in part by a glorious mix of female firebrands, artists, libertines, showgirls and pioneers.”

Though the festival was set to take place again in 2014, it ended up going on hiatus with no indication as of yet whether it would resume in 2015 or beyond.  The HOWL! Festival draws from the history of the Village and the Lower East Side to embody the creative spirit of these neighborhoods and it would be a shame to lose this event during a time when New York is losing so much of its history and culture.  Be sure to check out below some images from past festivals:

Art Around the Park 2008. Photo by Nathaniel Siegel/HOWL! Festival.

Art Around the Park 2008. Photo by Nathaniel Siegel/HOWL! Festival.

House of HOWL! dancer Von Ali, 2009. Photo by 5Rabbit.com/HOWL! Festival.

House of HOWL! dancer Von Ali, 2009. Photo by 5Rabbit.com/HOWL! Festival.

Choreographer JULIE ATLAS MUZ (center) takes a bow at the end of LOW LIFE 3 (2009) - in the background are MISS MELODY SWEETS, VANGELINE, DIRTY MARTINI and members of the NY SCHOOL OF BURLESQUE. Photo by Mark Tusk/HOWL! Festival.

Choreographer JULIE ATLAS MUZ (center) takes a bow at the end of LOW LIFE 3 (2009) – in the background are MISS MELODY SWEETS, VANGELINE, DIRTY MARTINI and members of the NY SCHOOL OF BURLESQUE. Photo by Mark Tusk/HOWL! Festival.

New Bowery crooner ADAM DUGAS onstage at LOW LIFE 3 at HOWL! Photo by Mark Tusk/HOWL! Festival.

New Bowery crooner ADAM DUGAS onstage at LOW LIFE 3 at HOWL! Photo by Mark Tusk/HOWL! Festival.

VANGELINE THEATER warms up before their retro-butoh performance at LOW LIFE 3 @ HOWL! (2009) Photo The Jackie Factory NYC/HOWL! Festival.

VANGELINE THEATER warms up before their retro-butoh performance at LOW LIFE 3 @ HOWL! (2009) Photo The Jackie Factory NYC/HOWL! Festival.

"BOWERY BOYZ" ARTHUR AVILES, MIGUEL ANAYA, JACK FERVER and choreographer ROBERT LA FOSSE stop to terrorize the neighborhood en route from their dress rehearsal at HOWL 2007. La Fosse's tightly choreographed male ballet was one of the highlights of the show. Photo The Jackie Factory NYC/HOWL! Festival.

“BOWERY BOYZ” ARTHUR AVILES, MIGUEL ANAYA, JACK FERVER and choreographer ROBERT LA FOSSE stop to terrorize the neighborhood en route from their dress rehearsal at HOWL 2007. La Fosse’s tightly choreographed male ballet was one of the highlights of the show. Photo The Jackie Factory NYC/HOWL! Festival.

Art Around the Part 2009.  Photo by Nathaniel Siegel/HOWL! Festival.

Art Around the Part 2009. Photo by Nathaniel Siegel/HOWL! Festival.

Dirty Martini onstage at LOW LIFE 2 @ HOWL! 2008 Photo The Jackie Factory NYC/HOWL! Festival.

Dirty Martini onstage at LOW LIFE 2 @ HOWL! 2008 Photo The Jackie Factory NYC/HOWL! Festival.

Wigstock founder LADY BUNNY (center) with WORLD FAMOUS *BOB* (right) and a truly glam attendee at the 2008 LOW LIFE @ HOWL! Photo by Mark Tusk/HOWL! Festival.

Wigstock founder LADY BUNNY (center) with WORLD FAMOUS *BOB* (right) and a truly glam attendee at the 2008 LOW LIFE @ HOWL! Photo by Mark Tusk/HOWL! Festival.

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Matthew Morowitz