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2014 garden getaway: Lilac Festival in Rochester

The annual Lilac Festival in Rochester takes place May 9th through 18th
The annual Lilac Festival in Rochester takes place May 9th through 18th
Wikimedia Commons: Leonid Dzhepko

Spring means fragrant lilacs, and gardeners and lilac lovers from the Western New York area will be converging on Rochester, New York’s Highland Park, site of the annual Lilac Festival. This year’s festival takes place Friday, May 9th through Sunday, May 18th.

Located at 249 Highland Ave. in Rochester, Highland Park is an arboretum (tree garden) designed by the designer of Buffalo’s Olmstead Park system, Frederick Law Olmstead. Its famous lilac collection was started in 1892 with 20 varieties of the fragrant bushes; today, there are more than 500 varieties (over 1,200 shrubs), as well as Japanese maples, magnolias, a barberry collection, 700 varieties of rhododendron and many other plants and trees. Another feature in the 155-acre park is the Pansy Bed, featuring over 10,000 plants designed as a floral “carpet” with a different pattern each year.

The free 10-day festival, the only one of its kind in North America, is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. – and there’s more to see than just beautiful flowers, trees and shrubs. There is daily entertainment for kids and adults, including nightly free concerts. Saturday, May 10th is the annual Lilac Parade at 10:30 a.m., and the annual arts and crafts show is Saturday and Sunday, May 10th and 11th and Saturday and Sunday, May 17th and 18th from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The popular Chocolate and Wine Tasting is now a three-day event, Tuesday through Thursday, May 13th through 15th from 1 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. each day. On Sunday, May 18th, the Lilac 10K and 5K Family Fun Run begins at 8 a.m.

For more information, including parking and shuttle information, visit the Festival website.

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