Rochester Lilac Festival May 10-19, 2013: An Experience For All Senses

Rochester, New York is home to the world’s largest collection of lilac bushes, and each spring the blooming flowers take center stage during the Rochester Lilac Festival.  May 10 – 19, 2013 will be the 115th staging of the Rochester Lilac Festival, and the event continues to add new attractions.  In addition to the botanical display, the Rochester Lilac Festival features FREE name musical acts including Rusted Root, Spin Doctors, Marshall Tucker, The Smithereens, and Eddie Money.  Continue reading for more details from the Festival’s press release.

Rochester Lilac Festival

Image Courtesy Rochester Lilac Festival

From the Rochester Lilac Festival:

The 1,200 lilac bushes decorating the 22 acres of Highland Park in Rochester, NY will put on a spectacular show May 10-19, exploding with color and fragrance during the Rochester Lilac Festival — showcasing the world’s largest collection of lilacs during the largest and oldest festival of its kind.

Rochester Lilac Festival

Image Courtesy Rochester Lilac Festival

The 115-year-old festival this year has a new name, adding the word Rochester to the title, plus a new logo, new events and attractions, high-profile national music acts, and a new producer, The Springut Group.  The Rochester Lilac Festival is a joint venture of Monroe County Parks, City of Rochester, and VisitRochester convention and visitors bureau.

Rochester Lilac Festival

More than 500,000 visitors from most every continent are expected to attend the 10-day festival, which is an experience for all your senses — See the magnificent array of colors, people, and arts & crafts; Smell the aromatic lilacs; Hear entertaining musical acts; Taste the variety of foods and treats; and Touch a lilac branch as you sniff a fresh bud or walk hand-in-hand along the spectacular park paths.

Rochester Lilac Festival

Image Courtesy Rochester Lilac Festival

“The Rochester Lilac Festival continues to grow in attendance and popularity every year by welcoming the festival season back to Monroe County with a big purple splash of spring,” said Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks.  “Lilac Fest attracts thousands of out-of-town guests to our community and contributes more than $3 million to our local economy.  That is an incredible testament to all that Monroe County has to offer and something our entire community should be very proud of.”

With local musicians on the main stage every day, coupled with the beauty of Highland Park, the festival is truly a showcase of the city’s and county’s talents and creativity and natural beauty.  The 155-acre Highland Park is a crown jewel among Monroe County’s 21 parks.  It was designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also created New York City’s Central Park.  Guests can enjoy the park’s paths and lilacs on foot or via horse-drawn carriage rides.

Rochester Lilac Festival

Image Courtesy Rochester Lilac Festival

What’s new and notable for the Lilac Fest in 2013?

National Headliners:

National bands headlining the main stage entertainment include The Spin Doctors, Rusted Root, Marshall Tucker, The Smithereens, and Eddie Money … all free!

Rochester Lilac Festival - Spin DoctorsRochester Lilac Festival - Rusted RootRochester Lilac Festival - The Smithereens

Local acts include Prime Time Funk, Paradigm Shift, The Skycoasters, and The Campbell Brothers.

Rochester Lilac Festival - The Skycoasters

Wine & Chocolate Tasting

Three evenings of a Wine & Chocolate Tasting under the big tent, where you can sample more than 150 different local, regional, and national wines from more than 30 wineries — from 4 to 8 pm Tuesday, May 14; Wednesday, May 15; and Thursday, May 16.  No limo needed for this wine trail excursion… it’s all at the Rochester Lilac Festival.  And Paradigm Shift will be playing jazz music exclusively for the Wine & Chocolate Tasting guests all three evenings from 5 to 8 pm.  Admission is $10 per person per day and includes 15 wine-tasting tickets, a commemorative tasting glass, access to an outdoor tasting garden, and wine purchases on site with pick-up service.  Advance tickets are on sale now at

Craft Beer Garden

A Craft Beer Garden will offer more than 20 varieties of eclectic regional and national beers on tap on a rotating schedule of five different beers per day, for sale alongside a variety of beers from Genesee Brewery.  The featured breweries are Ithaca, Victory, Long Trail, and Pyramid.

The Parade

The 2013 Rochester Lilac Festival Parade at 10:30 am. Saturday, May 11, is anticipated to be the largest and most spectacular Lilac Parade to date, with more than 2,500 participants, including 20 marching bands, dancers, costumed characters, and the popular Damascus mini cars.  The parade’s grand marshals are West Webster volunteer firefighters Joseph Hofstetter and Theodore Scardino, who bravely survived a tragedy in our community on Christmas Eve.  The Webster Police Department and West Webster Fire Department will lead our Grand Marshals followed by the Webster Schroeder High School Marching Band.

Rochester Lilac Festival Parade

Image Courtesy Rochester Lilac Festival

Kid Power!

Each year a portion of the park is transformed into a mini amusement park during the Lilac Festival.  And this year the children’s rides and entertainment will feature new mini rides and several bounce houses and inflatable obstacle courses.  The kids’ stage will offer a variety of acts and is being relocated closer to the rides, in an area now being called “Kid Power!”  The musical acts include The Dinner Dogs, Gary the Happy Pirate, Tiger Tom Walsh, Mike Kornrich, and Magic John.  The children’s rides and inflatables require tickets, which are sold on site; the live children’s entertainment is free.

Demonstration Stages

Along the paths, a variety of demonstrations will be taking place, from gardening tips to woodworking.

Art In the Park

More than 130 artists will be exhibiting on the South Avenue Green in this year’s juried Arts and Crafts Shows, open 10:30 am to 6 pm. Saturdays and 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. Artists from more than 10 different states are participating, with art ranging from ceramics and glass to jewelry and metal/sculpture.

Rochester Lilac Festival

2013 Festival Poster

Artist Amy Margolis created this year’s poster, featuring the beauty of several species of lilacs.

Rochester Lilac Festival

Casa Larga’s Lilac Hill Wine

Casa Larga will be selling its Lilac Hill wine, a commemorative bottle of wine with label art featuring the 2013 Rochester Lilac Festival poster.  Noted for its floral characteristics and unique blue bottle, this wine has served as a key symbol of Rochester’s lilacs since its creation in 1994.

Lilac Hill will be featured as part of the Wine & Chocolate Tasting (May 14-16) and also will be available by the glass throughout the festival at its six bars.

Rochester Lilac Festival

Lilac 10K and Family 5K

This annual event, sponsored by MedVed, is a picturesque run through city streets on the final day of the festival, Sunday May 19.  New high-tech additions help runners track their midway and final times, while automatically sending texts to family and friends.  More than 2,000 walkers and runners participate.  Click here to register for the race.

Rochester Lilac Festival

Image Courtesy Rochester Lilac Festival

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About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.