Lilac Festival, Rochester, New York



* Free!
* The flowers
* The flowers
* Great food!
* Lively, friendly with a fun atmosphere
* Convenient parking
* Lots of places to sit and rest
* Very child and elderly friendly (it is in a park so be aware you will be walking on grass and dirt)

* Parking is a bit far away, so be prepared for a walk
* Weather can make or break this event
* A bit crowded mid to late in the day, I recommend going early in the day if you want to avoid crowds
* Starts at 10:30am, missing the sunrise

The Adventure:

This has been on my bucketlist since the first month I moved to New York.  But every year, I somehow forgot and missed it.  Not this year!!  I finally made it.  I don’t know why, but for some reason I pictured this to be a small, quaint event, that would have a few people here and there roaming around Highland Park when the lilacs where in bloom.   I could
not have been further off.    This year was the 118th Lilac Festival.  It will run from May 6th to May 15th, the park opens at 10:30 am and stays open until 8:30pm each day.  The line up of events is truly impressive.   There is a Lilac Parade, a Home & Garden Show, a LILAC BREW FEST!  Food, food and more food.   Live bands!  Live bands as in RUSTED ROOT!   This event is completely free to attend, with the exception of parking which is $5.

The weather was not the best, it was a bit dreary, misting slightly, but that did not stop the crowds.  This is an enormous event, and the turnout was not lacking.  Fortunately on Saturday, the sun did come out for a large part of the afternoon, allowing families and groups of friends to picnic amongst the lilac trees.  Lilacs. The most beautifully scented flowers.  Walking around the grounds, you are bathed in the scent.  The trees were so fragrant, throwing down a blanket, grabbing a book and maybe a brew from the Lilac brew fest – that has the very real potential of being a perfect day.

 1200 lilac shrubs!!  1200!!  That should give you an idea of what I mean by bathed in the scent.  Bathed sounds a bit negative, let me assure you there is nothing negative about the scent.  Local artists and vendors, lined a street of the park.  Selling every different kind of lilac product you can imagine.   I couldn’t resist buying the official lilac perfume, which came with a baby lilac tree.  Perfect keep sake from my trip. 

The food was fun fair type foods, essentially anything on a stick.   Plus a few unique inventions, as in the bacon bomb.  (YUM!)   The best part of this festival was the music, this is what draws you to stay after eating food, walking in the lilac forest, and touring all the vendor sites.  The music  line up was truly impressive.   The range was all over the place, rock, country, 70’s, Gaelic!  Yep, Gaelic.  I spent Sunday morning, sitting on a bench in the warm spring sun, eating a bacon bomb and listening to Johnny Bauer, and Jeff Riales & The Silvertone Express.  I had only made time for a Saturday/Sunday trip, but wish I could have spent more time there, as well as studied the musical line up a bit closer and perhaps planned better to see more of the bands.   Lesson learned for next time!!

Live band line up can be found here!


Must Do:

  • Stop and smell the lilacs
  • Buy some of the local lilac products
  • Go to the Brew Fest or the Wine Expo, or my fav the Bloody Mary Expo! 
  • Watch the bands! 

5 Lilac Festival Blogs:

  1. Rochester Lilac Festival
  2. Visit Rochester
  3. Rochester Lilac Festival 2018 Recap
  4. Picture Show Lilac Festival
  5. New York by Rail




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