April showers bring May lilacs!

By: Dana

It’s May and the Lilac Festival is almost here!  An annual Rochester tradition, the Lilac Festival is a 10 day free festival with art exhibits, a parade, food vendors,  live entertainment, and of course a gorgeous display of colorful lilacs throughout Highland Park.  This year the festival is set to take place May 11th-20th.

As noted on the Lilac Festival’s official website, Highland Park displays over 500 varieties of lilacs on more than 1,200 lilac bushes- so be sure to bring your camera!  First planted in 1892 by horticulturist John Dunbar, the assortment has turned into the world’s largest lilac collection, bringing visitors from all over the globe to participate in this annual celebration.  Over the course of the 10 day event, the festival brings in well over a half-million visitors.  So how did the festival get started?  In short, the first Lilac Festival informally began in May of 1898 when a crowd of thousands gathered at what is now known as Highland Park to see the lilac collection in bloom.  On May 24, 1908 Rochester celebrated its first “official” Lilac Sunday, which later extended to Lilac Week.  From there, a parade was introduced that started downtown to the park’s summit, and in 1979, Lilac Week was renamed Lilac Festival (http://www.lilacfestival.com/highlandpark.html).  200+ years later, crowds still gather to see the lilacs, take in the entertainment, and celebrate the start of spring.

The festival is perfect for all ages, and includes free children’s entertainment during the week and weekends.  You can participate in the Medved Lilac 10k and 5k family fun run on Sunday, or watch the lilac parade featuring various marching bands, and decorated floats.  There are also 2 arts and crafts shows during the weekend featuring local and national artists.  For a full list of exhibitors, entertainment schedules, special events, and directions, be sure to check out the lilac festival website online!

 

Leave a Reply




If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.