Rochester Lilac Festival

Rochester Lilac Festival
The Rochester Lilac Festival is one of the most famous flower festivals in the United States. It is held each May in Rochester, New York. The festival takes place in the city’s Highland Park known for its huge collection of lilacs, featuring over 500 different varieties.

Highland Park, also known as Highland Botanical Park, is one of the oldest municipal arboretums in the US. It was created in 1888 when nurserymen Patrick Barry and George Ellwanger donated 20 acres of their land to the City of Rochester. The park was designed by landscape artist Frederick Law Olmsted who is widely regarded as the father of American landscape architecture. The first lilac trees in the park were planted by horticulturalist John Dunbar in 1892. The collection started with 20 lilac varieties.

In 1898, around 3,000 people came to Highland Park one Sunday in May to admire the blossoming lilac trees. This inspired the annual lilac festival. The first organized Rochester Lilac Festival took place ten years later and attracted about 25,000 attendees. The festival has been held annually ever since, attracting more and more people each year. Today Highland Park’s lilac collection includes more than 500 different varieties and over 1,200 bushes covering the 155 acres of the park.

The Rochester Lilac Festival lasts for ten days filled with exciting events and activities for visitors of all ages. It kicks off with a spectacular parade featuring marching bands, costumed characters, dancers and the popular Damascus mini cars – a total of over 2,500 participants. The Lilac Parade is an event you wouldn’t want to miss.

Other highlights of the festival program include a series of concerts and shows on several stages, Seniors Day with special entertainment and senior discounts on festival foods, Garden Battles, Art in the Park (a juried art & craft show featuring the original work of over 100 artists), the Craft Beverage Expo, children’s events, food stands, vendors, the 5 K and 10 K Lilac Run, and more.

During the festival, the arboretum is open to all visitors and is toured free of charge. Alongside its impressive lilac collection, the arboretum has the spectacular hand-planted pansy bed, the rhododendron/azalea garden, the tulip garden, and more.

Rochester Lilac Festival

Photo: Raymond M.




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