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City of Rochester

The Rochester Lilac Festival

Lilac Festival buggy ride, Highland Park.This annual event draws up to 500,000 people to Rochester's Highland Park each May to view more than 200 varieties of lilacs and other flowers, trees and shrubs.

The 2014 Lilac Festival will run from May 9 through May 18. Learn more.

Off Goodman St., just south of Highland AvenueThe Lilac Festival dates back to back to 1898 and is firmly rooted in Rochester’s heritage as the “Flour-Flower City.” Highland Park was donated to the City by George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry, two horticulturalists and nursery owners whose seed catalogs brought national attention to Rochester. The park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York’s Central Park and several other parks in Rochester’s impressive collection of public spaces. At this point in its history, Rochester was a fast-growing industrial city that had been settled around a series of Genesee River waterfalls. These powered the mills that gave Rochester its original "Flour City" nickname. But because of the work of Ellwanger, Barry, Olmsted and others, Rochester’s moniker now speaks to this city’s history of industry and beauty.

Today, the annual Lilac Festival is one of the region's most anticipated events and draws visitors from around the world. Highlights of the festival, which serves as the unofficial start of the Rochester area’s summer festival season, also include the Lilac Parade and the Lilac Queen, a set of 5- and 10-kilometer runs and a wide variety of vendors and live performances.


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