The Rochester Lilac Festival is the largest free festival of its kind in North America. The more than 500,000 visitors who attend the festival each year not only get to experience over 500 varieties of lilacs, and all the natural beauty of Highland Park, but also live music, incredible food, and drinks, as well as fun for the entire family. Here are some things you won't want to miss at the Rochester Lilac Festival this May 6-8, 12-15, and 19-22, 2022.
Annual Lilac Unity Parade - May 7 @ 10:30 a.m.
The Lilac Unity Parade has more than 2,500 participants, including 20 marching bands, dancers, costumed characters, and the popular Damascus mini cars are what makes parade day one of the most special times at the Rochester Lilac Festival.
The Big Sing - May 7
Immediately following the Lilac Parade, visitors to the Rochester Lilac Festival can enjoy the Big Sing, a performance featuring 200 gospel singers from across Monroe County. The Big Sing celebrates the Monroe County Bicentennial, and will unite singers from across Monroe County on the main stage at the Lilac Festival to perform. The collaboration will feature a powerful spiritual finale to the Lilac Parade with a Purpose. Visitors of all ages and religious denominations are encouraged to attend to celebrate both the history of Monroe County and its promising future. The 200-person strong choir will be led by Wardell Lewis, and will feature singers from a number of different churches across Monroe County
Art In The Park - May 7-8
Art in the Park takes place along Reservoir Avenue, a shaded street adjacent to the lilac gardens and the main festival site on May 7 and 8. Spend Mother's Day weekend shopping with more than 100 artists, makers, designers, and craftspeople to discover unique pieces from across a variety of media including ceramics, drawings, graphics, fiber, glass, jewelry, sculpture, wood and mixed media along with specialty packaged foods and body care products. Don’t forget to pick up official festival merchandise, like the official 2022 Rochester Lilac Festival Poster!
The Rochester Lilac Festival is a family event full of fun activities for visitors of all ages. The Kids' Zone especially is a family favorite every year. Open every day of the festival, there are many activities for the little ones, from the zipline, bounce houses, rides, midway games, and more!
There are countless locations to find a variety of yummy festival foods at the Lilac Festival, along with as additional snack vendors throughout the festival. Visitors won’t want to miss the chance to taste local, regional favorites such as Abbott’s Frozen Custard, and, of course, Nick Tahou Garbage Plates. Rochester food trucks bring exciting new taste combinations. Previous vendors have included Stingray Sushi Fusion’s mix of Japanese and Latin flavors, and Le Petit Poutine's freshly made fries covered in cheese curds and gravy. And don't miss out on festival classics, including Candy Apples, CinnaRoasted Almonds, Cotton Candy, Deep Fried Candy Bars & Oreos, Fried Dough, Funnel Cakes, Kettle Korn, and Soft Pretzels.
Garden Battles - May 14
This fast-paced charitable contest is inspired by popular reality-based competitions such as Chopped and Iron Chef and tests the gardening skills of local media celebrities. Watch as local Rochesterians including Amal Elhelw, Ally Peters, Dan Schrack, Mark McLean, iHeart Media's Rizzo and Jeff, Michael Gouldrick, and Jim Aroune compete as teams to create beautiful gardenscapes with the help of a master horticulturist. Visitors will vote for their favorite garden. The 1st place winner will receive $1,000 for the local charity of their choice.
Wine Tasting Expo- May 7
The Wine Tasting Expo at the Rochester Lilac Festival is BACK in full swing in 2022! Get ready to enjoy this traditional tasting event, designed for those who crave regional, artisanal, and specialty release selections. Get ready to welcome spring in the best way- with wine!
Craft Beer Expo- May 21
In 2022, the Lilac Festival Craft Beer Expo will be bigger and better than ever before! This year the expo will have an expanded footprint, lawn games, an official Lilac Craft Beer Expo Award, designated food vendors, and MORE! Grab a friend, or 5, and don’t miss out on what is set to be the best Lilac Craft Beer Expo yet!
Lilacs & Gardens
There are over 500 varieties of lilacs at Highland Park in Rochester, NY. Each has a unique color and look, and they all smell amazing. The fragrance wafting throughout the park is heavenly. Bring your camera for incredible up close pictures of these gorgeous flowers, as the Lilac Festival is a top spot for Instagram photos. More than just lilacs, visitors will also enjoy tulips, the pansy bed, and the Lamberton Conservatory, featuring plants from all over the world.
Rochester Lilac Festival has a wide variety of free concerts during the 10 day Festival. Visitors are sure to find something the whole family can enjoy. Major performances at this year’s event include: Blues Traveler, The Coupe De’ Villes, JunkYard FieldTrip, The Sideways, Driftwood, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, Root Shock, Blue Sky Brothers, Low Cut Connie, Seven Wonders, Workingman's Dead, Dirty Blanket, Zac Brown Tribute Band, Uprooted Band with Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root, and Big Eyed Phish.
Race Day - May 22
More than 3,000 runners from across the region take to Highland Park every spring for the annual Lilac Run, an annual Lilac Festival tradition. Participants can choose to run a 5K, 10K, or the Dunkin’ Donuts Dash – a fun half mile sprint down Highland Avenue to eat Munchkins™ and then dash back to the start. A portion of the proceeds will benefit a local charity – Champion Academy, an organization that provides teens in poverty with the critical support, consistency, and accountability necessary to overcome barriers and reach their fullest potential.
For more information on the Rochester Lilac Festival visit the official festival website. And, don't forget to share your photos on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #VisitROC and #LilacFest!
Photo Credit: Andy Buscemi