The Lilac Fest opens Friday, May 13, and runs through Sunday, May 22. It is 10 days of heady fun not only celebrating our city's love affair with a certain purple bloom, but also heralding the opening of a long and full summer festival season.
With 1200 bushes and 500-plus varieties throughout our prized Highland Park, this is a botanical spectacle. But as at least one person has observed, if the flowers aren't exactly at their peak during festival time, all the better. If you love lilacs, they're best enjoyed alongside a little peace and quiet, either post festival dates or in the early morning and late evening, when they are all dewy and perfumey.
The Lilac Festival is open every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and admission and all music events are free. Here is a partial list of activity and music highlights. For full music schedules, see City's music listings, beginning on page 18. For more information on the Festival, visit the comprehensive www.lilacfestival.com or call 256-4960. Have fun, leave your pets at home, and don't pick the flowers.
The festival's opening ceremonies are on Friday, May 13, on the ESL Lilac Stage, Highland and South Avenues, at 12 p.m.
The Lilac Parade is on Saturday, May 14, down South and Highland Avenues, beginning at 10:30 a.m.
The arts and crafts will be out on the weekends. Hundreds of exhibitors will display their handmade wares at the Lilac Festival Arts & Crafts Show, Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15, and at the Art in the Park Show, May 21 and 22. Both shows are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., along South Avenue.
New to the fest this year is Hispanic Day on Tuesday, May 17, with Latin music performances, vendors, food, and health information.
Both kids and seniors get their own special treatment during the fest. Every afternoon and early evening the Lilac Pavilion at Lilac 'n' Kids Zone will offer free entertainment --- including music, juggling, sing-a-longs, and plays --- and activities. The Lilacs 'n' SeniorsDay is Wednesday, May 18, with music throughout the day and lunch at the Cornell Cooperative Extension. (Reservations are required. 262-3829.)
The Wine, Jazz & Blues DayFarmer's Market is Thursday, May 19, under the Big Top Tent, more than a dozen regional wineries and food vendors will have treats to sample or buy. The Gala in the Park benefit for FOODLINK is also on Thursday, May 19, in the Lamberton Conservatory. Tickets, which are $50, include dinner, music, and wine. (328-3380)
5K and 10K races are on Sunday, May 22, beginning at 8:15 and 9 a.m. respectively. Registration is $18 in advance, $20 the day of the event. Registration forms are available at www.lilacfestival.com.
It will be fierce, as always. Avoid the temptation to park on side streets or on people's lawns, and you can avoid tickets and towing. On the weekends, park for free at MonroeCommunity College, 1000 East Henrietta Road, and take the $1 RTS shuttle (lift-equipped) to the festival site. Monday through Friday you can park for free in marked Festival Lots: on Goodman Street south of Highland Avenue or on Elmwood Avenue east of South Avenue. Handicapped parking during the week is in Goodman Street and South Avenue lots. For the duration of the festival, people can park for $5 at the ColgateDivinitySchool, 1180 South Goodman Street. www.lilacfestival.com, 256-4960.