Rochester Lilac Festival 2023: Here’s what to expect

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester Lilac Festival is coming up soon to celebrate springtime in Upstate New York. This will be the 125th time that the event is being held.

This year, the festival will begin on Friday, May 12, and will end on Sunday, May 21. The festival is open during those days between 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The public is invited to check out the largest collection of lilacs in North America. According to the festival, over 1,800 bushes and over 500 different varieties of lilacs will be showcased at the festival.

However, lilacs aren’t the only thing attendees can look forward to. During the 10-day spring celebration, there will be multiple events, vendors, and shows for visitors to enjoy. Below is a breakdown of the festival’s main events and concerts, as well as parking information, a map of the festival grounds, and vendors.

Festival Schedule:

Concert List:

Mikaela Davis performing at the 2022 Rochester Lilac Festival (News 8 WROC)

Festival organizers released the concert line-up for the festival in early March, with Pigeons Playing Ping Pong being announced later as a surprise headliner on the first day of the festival.

Each of the below concerts is free to attend, however, those looking for a more “elevated” experience can purchase a VIP ticket to view the concert on a party deck.

All proceeds made from the VIP tickets for the concert on May 19 will go directly towards 490Farmers — a community garden on state-owned land.

Date: Supporting Talent: Headliners:
May 12 4 pm: Personal Blend
5:30 pm: Sneezy
7 pm: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
May 13 3 pm: MoChester
4:30 pm: Shine
6 pm: Zac Brown Tribute Band
May 14 1 pm: Sofrito
2:30 pm: BB Dang
4 pm: The Iguanas
6 pm: The Seven Wonders
May 15 4 pm: Big Blue House
5:15 pm: Public Water Supply
7 pm: Mikaela Davis
May 16 4 pm: Digglers Bridge
5:30 pm: Organ Fairchild
7 pm: Sam Grisman Project
May 17 4 pm: Inside Out
5:30 pm: Root Shock
7 pm: Blue Sky Brothers
May 18 4 pm: Mothership
5:30 pm: Stunt Double
7 pm: Almost Queen
May 19 3:45 pm: Steve Grills and the Roadmasters 5 pm: The Founders
7 pm: The Record Company
May 20 2 pm: The Medicinals
3:30 pm: Hello City
5 pm: Shamarr Allen
7 pm: Big Eyed Phish
May 21 1 pm: Head to the Roots
2:30 pm: Vintage Pistol
4 pm: Judah
5:30 pm: Workingman’s Dead
7 pm: Into the Now

Special Events:

The 2022 Rochester Lilac Parade (News 8 WROC Photo)

Saturday, May 13:

  • The Lilac Parade will be held at 10:30 a.m. The parade will begin on South Avenue at Science Parkway before heading towards Highland Avenue and ending near Goodman St.
  • The 2023 Lilac Wine Tasting Expo will take place through two separate sessions. The first session will be between 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. while the second session will be 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. If you can’t wait for this event, you can purchase VIP tickets and enjoy the event an hour early.
  • Art in the Park is a juried art show featuring original work from across the nation. The show will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and continue on Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Wednesday, May 17:

  • Seniors Day will feature special entertainment on the Lilac Center Stage, lunch specials, and more time to view the gardens and lilacs. The main stage entertainment will begin at 10:30 a.m.
(Photo courtesy of Rochester Lilac Festival Craft Beer Expo)

Saturday, May 20:

  • The Rochester Lilac Craft Beer Festival will take place between 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The expo will feature many breweries, craft cider makers, and distilleries. If you want to attend this event earlier, you can purchase a VIP ticket online to attend an hour early. All tickets are available online.
  • The Lilac Health & Wellness Expo, presented by Evans Bank and Whole Foods, features products related to health, self-care, nutrition, weight loss, and personal development. The expo will go until May 21.
The 2019 Lilac Festival 5K & 10K (News 8 WROC)

Sunday, May 21 (Last Day!):

  • The Lilac 5K/10K, presented by the JCC of Greater Rochester, will be held starting at 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Big Top Tent. The event will benefit Champion Academy, an organization aiming to help teens overcome trauma. Registration is available on the event’s website.
  • The Dunkin’ Dash, another race held this day, is for people of all ages and will provide donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts. Those who participate in the race will get a donut and a T-shirt.

Festival Map:

Food Vendors:

The festival will feature a multitude of food vendors and trucks located throughout the many areas of the festival grounds — located at the Purple Crosswalk, Beyond the Arches, Garden Battles Loop, the Big Top Food Tent, the traffic circle trail, and near the arts and crafts show.

These vendors will include Big Kahuna, Macarollin’, Wraps on Wheels, Le Petit Poutine, Abbott’s Frozen Custard, and Sticky Lips BBQ.

A full list of the areas on festival grounds that have food vendors, as well as the list of vendors, can be found on the Festival’s website.


Organizers say that those who are driving to the festival have two choices for parking According to the website, the price for parking is $7 per car:

  • The first parking option is next to 1000 Elmwood Avenue, which is located just south of the festival site.
  • The second option is located at 1065 Elmwood Avenue.

Alternatively, on weekends, there is a shuttle service to and from the festival that operates from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. On May 13, the day of the parade, the shuttle will start running at 8:30 a.m. Those looking to use the shuttle may park at Monroe Community College’s Brighton Campus.

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