Looking for information on the 2011 Lilac Festival?  CLICK HERE.

Each Spring, Rochester residents rejoice as winter ends and the crocuses start to bloom because they know that soon, it will be time for the Lilac Festival.

Highland Park is a sea of lilacs in May!

Highland Park is a sea of lilacs in May!

Rochester’s Lilac Festival began in 1898 when 3000 people, dressed in their Victorian best, gathered on a Sunday in May to stroll among the Lilacs in Highland Park.  Within 10 years, Lilac Sunday was attracting 25,000.  Today, this family-oriented event extends to 10 days and attracts more than a half million people.

Highland Park was established in 1888 and designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the landscape architect who designed New York’s Central Park.  The Park now boasts the largest collection of lilacs in the world, with 1200 bushes representing 500 varieties of lilacs.

One of the rarer varieties of lilacs

One of the rarer varieties of lilacs

The lilacs are normally at peak during the festival and the white, sky blue, violet, red-violet and indigo petals flutter deliciously on the breeze as the sweet scent of lilac wafts through the park.

The Lilac Festival is Rochester’s longest-running festival, and a favorite of residents and visitors, not only because of the lilacs, but because the Festival also draws high-quality arts and craft exhibitors, international food vendors, and home and garden demonstrations and displays at which you can purchase flowers.  There’s also a children’s area with rides and numerous concert performances, many of which are free.  There is a charge for some of the mainstage performances with headliners.

The lilacs are usually at peak during the Festival

The lilacs are usually at peak during the Festival

If you’re planning to attend the first Saturday (May 15), don’t miss theYNN parade, filled with marching bands, equestrienne performers, costumed characters, drum and bugle corps and more.  The Parade will start at 10:30 a.m. beginning at South Avenue at Science Parkway, and will travel down South Avenue to Highland Avenue ending at Goodman Street.  There’ll be over 125 entries in this year’s YNN Lilac Parade.

Click for the MAIN STAGE schedule of what’s happening

Click for the CHILDREN’S activity schedule.

While you’re in the park, stop by the Lamberton Conservatory for an amazing indoor display of exotic flowers and foliage.

There is no  admission or parking charge to attend the festival.  Lamberton Conservatory admission is: Adults $3 (19-61), Youth (6-18) and Seniors (62+) $2, Children (0-5) Free.  The Conservatory is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Highland Park is bordered by Highland Avenue, South Avenue and Goodman Street in Rochester, NY.

I often volunteer at the Information Booth, so I hope to see you at the Lilac Festival!

If you enjoy Highland Park and the Lilac Festival, you may also want to read the post about The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, located in Highland Park.

If you’re a lilac lover, you may want to read “The Profile of Doc Lilac and Lilacs Exclusive to Rochester.”