Rochester’s annual Lilac Festival brings thousands of visitors to the Western New York area every spring. 

Held each May throughout Highland Park in Rochester’s Mount Hope district, the event has your standard family-fun things to do like rides and fried food. There’s also craft beer, wine and live music for the partying set, along with rows of vendors selling goods from all across New York State.

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The Lilac Festival is a big deal for Rochester residents, with the week-long event being kicked off with a parade and 5 and 10K races. 

But one of the most popular reasons why people from far and wide flock to the festival is to witness what it’s named for in the first place. 

Thousands Of Lilacs In Rochester Every Spring

If you’ve ever visited Highland Park, you’ll know it’s one of the most beautiful spots in the city. The 150-acre park is a garden-lover’s dream, filled with tulips, pansies, and azaleas. 

But obviously, the most popular attraction is the over 1,200 shrubs and 500 varieties of white, pink, and purple lilacs - the largest collection in the United States. It’s one reason Rochester is called the “Flower City.”

Lilac bushes
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The park’s lilac bushes don’t just smell incredible - they also make a gorgeous backdrop for engagement photos, senior pictures, and Instagram posts. Getting a whiff and a pic of Rochester’s lilacs are a highlight of thousands of festival-goers every year. 

Unfortunately, the timing doesn’t always work out for the attendees who want to admire them. 

Will Rochester’s Lilacs Bloom Too Early?

Throughout the festival’s history, tourists have traveled to Rochester to get a glimpse of the lilacs, only to discover that they’ve already come and gone. Things like chilly spring weather, late snowfall, and ice could damage the lilac shrubs. 

On the other hand, unseasonably warm temperatures like Western New York had last week could cause the lilacs to bloom early. In Northern States like New York, lilacs bloom for about 2 weeks from mid- to late spring. If the lilacs blossom too quickly, they won’t stick around long enough to enjoy throughout the event. 

Good News For Lilac Festival Attendees

Thankfully, if you’re planning on hitting up the Lilac Festival, you should have no issues enjoying the lilacs’ beautiful blooms. 

Mark Quinn, Head Horticulturist for Monroe County Parks, told News 10 NBC in Rochester that Highland Park’s lilacs are projected to be in bloom by May 15th - perfect timing for the ten-day event May 12th through 21st. 

If you’re going to Rochester’s Lilac Festival for the music, food, and fun, you’ll be in good shape no matter what. But if your main agenda is to catch the popular lilacs, you can be assured they’ll be ready for you to enjoy. 

If you’ve never been, keep scrolling to see what a beautiful day at the Lilac Festival is like!

Lilac Festival in Rochester, New York

Can you smell it? The Lilac Festival in Rochester, NY is a popular event for thousands of people each year.