The lilac festival Oprah has called one of the best in the U.S. is back for 2021 in Central New York.

May flowers will be blooming in Highland Park for the 122nd Rochester Lilac Festival this spring, bringing with them the return of festival favorites for a re-imagined, retro event.

Organizers announced their plans for the 2021 Festival after a year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic The festival will return in a weekend-only format, running Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays May 7-9, May 14-16, and May 21-23 from 10:30 AM to 7 PM each day.

“While this year’s festival may look a little different, we are so grateful for the opportunity to bring this beloved Rochester tradition back in 2021 amidst a difficult year,” says Jeff Springut of Rochester Events. “We are looking forward to bringing some nostalgic, joyful – and most importantly – safe activities back to the community this May.”

New Offerings

  • Lilac Mini Farmer’s Market: Festivalgoers will be able to buy fresh flowers from Bar Fiore, Lilac Hill wine from Casa Larga Vineyards, favorite fragrance products from Highland Lilac Perfume and official Lilac Festival merchandise, including the 2021 poster and t-shirts.

Returning Favorites

  • Art in the Park: Reservoir Avenue will be lined with talented artisans at the annual Arts & Crafts show, taking place all three Saturdays 10:30-6:00 and all three Sundays, 10:30-5:00.
  • Family-Friendly Amusement Rides: There will be family-friendly amusement park rides within designated areas on the park grounds for kids to enjoy some open-air fun all festival days.
Credit - Andy Buscemi/Lilac Festival
  • Craft Beer Expo: Craft Beer enthusiasts will be able to enjoy a seated tasting session with food pairings from local eateries on May 8 and 9 from 11:30 AM to 1:45 PM, 2:45 to 5 PM., and 6 to 8:30 PM. This ticketed event will require the purchase of a table of four or six for a seated, COVID-safe experience.
Credit - Andy Buscemi/Lilac Festival
  • Wine Tasting Expo: Wine connoisseurs will also enjoy a ticketed, seated event with options to buy a table of two, four or six in the special events tent, complete with samples and food pairings. Wine tasting will occur on May 15 and 16 from 2:45 to 5 PM, and 6 to 8:30 PM.
Credit - Andy Buscemi/Lilac Festival
  • The Lilac Run 5K & 10K: The much-anticipated 5K/10K race is back this year with a new location at Genesee Valley Park on May 23 and is the perfect way to kick-off the return of warmer weather. This in-person race will follow a wave format as well as a virtual option to ensure the comfort and safety of all runners. Those interested can now register at LilacFestival.com.
  • The Dunkin Dash: Back by popular demand, younger runners can participate in a one mile fun run to the Dunkin’ pit-stop to grab their 10 Munchkins (presented in a voucher form this year), also located in Genesee Valley Park. Occurring on May 23, those interested can register at LilacFestival.com.

“I am excited for the return of the Lilac Festival this spring. The last year has been a remarkable test of the resolve of our community,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “Our city’s resilience is undeniable, and the return of the Lilac Festival proves that we are emerging from the pandemic together.”

Credit - Andy Buscemi/Lilac Festival

The 2021 Rochester Lilac Festival will abide by New York State COVID guidelines in requiring face masks be worn by all attendees, social distancing protocols, and providing sanitizing and handwashing stations in all festival areas.

LOOK: Here are the best small towns to live in across America

See the Must-Drive Roads in Every State