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

This year’s event kicks off May 10th and runs through May 19th. It’s a big deal for Western New York residents, and has your standard fun things like rides, food, craft beer and wine, live music, and many vendors selling goods from all over New York State.

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. 

Lilac shrub

The Most Popular Reason People Visit The Rochester, New York Lilac Festival

If you’ve ever visited Highland Park, you’ll know it’s one of the most beautiful spots in Rochester. Designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (who also helped create New York City’s Central Park and Buffalo’s Delaware Park), the 150-acre greenspace 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 the main reason Rochester has the nickname of “The Flower City.”

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. 

Will Rochester’s Lilacs Bloom Too Early?

Sometimes, tourists have traveled to Rochester’s Lilac Festival only to discover that the flowers have already come and gone. 

Things like chilly spring weather, late snowfall, and ice could damage the lilac shrubs; and on the other hand, unseasonably warm temperatures 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 Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle that according to the forecast, Highland Park’s lilacs should be in pretty good shape for the festival. 

If the Western New York weather remains in the 50’s and 60’s (which, so far, is exactly what’s being predicted), the lilacs should be in full bloom for the popular festival.  

If you’re going to Rochester’s Lilac Festival for the music, food, and fun, you should be good no matter what– but if your main agenda is to see those gorgeous lilacs, you can also be assured they’ll be ready to enjoy. 

READ MORE: Rochester's Best Spots For Craft Beer

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.

Gallery Credit: Megan Carter

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