ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The 2022 Lilac Festival begins at Highland Park in exactly one month and organizers gathered Wednesday morning for the unveiling ceremony of this year’s official poster.

The 124th annual Rochester Lilac Festival will kick off on May 6 and this year’s poster was produced by fine artist and portrait painter Diana Elmsie.

Casa Larga Vineyards also presented bottles of their Lilac Hill wine adorned with specialty labels featuring the 2022 poster artwork.

Speakers at Wednesday’s announcement included festival producer Jeff Springut, Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, Monroe County Parks Director Patrick Meredith, City of Rochester Director of Communications and Special Events Barbara Pierce, Visit Rochester Director of Market Communications and Public Relationships, and more sponsors and friends of the Lilac Festival.

“This festival is the perfect display of Monroe County’s culture and beauty,” Bello said. “I encourage all families to come down and enjoy the festival because we all need some good outside time after what the pandemic brought to us.”

Officials also announced Wednesday that Olympic gold medalist and Pittsford native Chris Lillis will serve as the Grand Marshal for this year’s Lilac Festival parade taking place at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 7.

Due to COVID-19, 2020’s festival was canceled. The 2021 edition, which was one of the first large-scale events to return in Monroe County since the beginning of the pandemic, included ticketed shows in a special events tent to reduce and control crowd capacity.

The 124th annual Lilac Fest at Highland Park will follow the pattern of the 2021 iteration, which featured three consecutive weekends instead of the traditional ten consecutive days.

  • Week One: May 6-8
  • Week Two: May 12-15
  • Week Three: May 19-22

Music

Festival organizers announced last month the return of the event’s signature free music concert series. Headliners for this year’s Lilac Festival include:

  • Friday, May 6
    • 7 p.m. — Blues Traveler
    • 5:30 p.m. — The Coupe De’Villes
    • 4 p.m. — Steve Grills & The Roadmasters
  • Saturday, May 7
    • 5:30 p.m. — Zach Brown Tribute Band (two sets)
    • 4 p.m. — JunkYard FieldTrip
    • 2:30 p.m. — Cool Club & the Lipsker Sisters
  • Sunday, May 8
    • 7 p.m. — Driftwood
    • 5:30 p.m. — The Sideways
    • 4 p.m. — Teagan & the Tweeds
    • 2:30 p.m. — JUMBOshrimp
    • 1 p.m. — Big Blue House
  • Thursday, May 12
    • 7 p.m. — UpRooted with Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root
    • 5:30 p.m. — Black Joe Lewis with the Honey Bears
    • 4 p.m. — Texas King
  • Friday, May 13
    • 7 p.m. — Blue Sky Brothers
    • 5:30 p.m. — Root Shock
    • 4 p.m. — Litz
  • Saturday, May 14
    • 7 p.m. — 7 Wonders
    • 5:30 p.m. — Low Cut Connie
    • 4 p.m. — The Collection
    • 2:30 p.m. — Parsonsfield
  • Sunday, May 15
    • 7 p.m. — Into The Now
    • 5:30 p.m. — Workingman’s Dead
    • 3:30 p.m. — The Collection
    • 2 p.m. — Kitchen Dwellers
  • Thursday, May 19
    • 7 p.m. — Anders Osborne & Jackie Greene
    • 5:30 p.m. — Organ Fairchild
  • Friday, May 20
    • 7 p.m. — Aqueous
    • 5 p.m. — Ripe
    • 4 p.m. — Vintage Pistol
  • Saturday, May 21
    • 7 p.m. — Big Eyed Phish
    • 5:30 p.m. — Bumpin Uglies
    • 4 p.m. — The Medicinals
    • 2:30 p.m. — Adrianna Noone
  • Sunday, May 22
    • 7 p.m. — Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
    • 5:30 p.m. — Dirty Blanket
    • 4 p.m. — Claudia Hoyser
    • 2:30 p.m. — Personal Blend
    • 1 p.m. — MoChester

In total, this year’s Center Stage will highlight more than 85 musical sets over the three festival weekends, including nationally renowned acts, local supporting acts, and featured performances from music programs of local schools. There will also be performances by the young musicians that make up Elvio Fernandes’ ROC Star Academy, comprised of 11-to-21-year-old aspiring artists.

Things To Do

Organizers say Lilac Festival attracts more than 500,000 daily annual visitors and those guests will be able to enjoy more than just the music. Activities and attractions for this year’s festival include:

The Gardens

And if all that wasn’t enough, there are, of course, the lilacs. Highland Park boasts the largest lilac collection in the United States, with a rare opportunity to experience the beauty and fragrance of more than 500 varieties of lilacs on approximately 1,200 plants.

“We are so lucky to have Highland Park in our backyard, famous for collecting the highest number of lilacs in North America,” Meredith said.

With three festival weekends, chances are there will be some peak blooms in time for your visit:

The lilacs are the star of the show, but don’t sleep on the pansy bed.

With a new walkway encircling the garden, the hand-planted pansy bed features some 10,000 plants in an oval floral “carpet.”

Each year the pansies are positioned to make a special design, making it an annual destination for festivalgoers.

Even with the pandemic cancellation in 2020 the pansy bed still offered a message of hope — literally:

And we can’t forget to mention Highland Park’s grove of rhododendrons and azaleas. As you walk the winding path east through the lilacs, you’ll find your way up the slope to this area with as many as 700 varieties of these plants, alongside mountain laurel, Andromeda, horse chestnuts, spring bulbs, and wildflowers.

Keep going from there and you’ll find the Pinetum, an arboretum with 300 species and varieties of conifers from around the U.S. and world. There are also Japanese maples, 35 varieties of magnolias, tree peonies, crabapple, and flowering dogwood trees, a barberry collection, a rock garden with dwarf evergreens, and a large variety of leafy shade trees.

But wait, there’s more.

At the entrance to the park at South Avenue and Reservoir Drive, you’ll be greeted with the annual bloom of tulips which provide a kaleidoscope of brilliant color:

VIP

The Lilac Festival is also bringing back the VIP High Spot Party Deck in 2020 for visitors to enjoy their shows with some top-notch perks. Ticketed guests here will get front-stage access, in-tent and outdoor lounge areas, a full private cash bar with wine, beer, and spirits, plus private climate-controlled restrooms, free chair massages, and free snacks.

VIP tickets will soon be available on the Lilac Festival website.

Highland Park Map

Ground Rules

Lilac Festival is free and open to the public, but certain areas of the park do have rules and the following apply to the festival site within Highland Park:

  • No pets allowed
  • Bicycles, skateboards and in-line skates are not allowed
  • Guests can bring a small chair, umbrellas, or blankets
  • Bandanas are not allowed

There is also a parental escort program from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. of each festival day whereas:

  • Guests 16 and under are not permitted entry unless escorted by parent, legal guardian or responsible adult
  • All guests 16 and under must remain within the company of their escort
  • Each escort may supervise up to five youths
  • Any guest appearing to be less than 17 years old should be prepared to show valid ID
    • Valid ID forms include Driver’s license, non-driver ID, college ID, Passport, or VISA

Parking

Public parking is available entering at 1440 South Avenue, Rochester NY, 14620. Parking is $5 per car, but parking is free on Fridays before 3 p.m.

Organizers say vehicles parked illegally on side streets surrounding the festival will be ticketed and/or towed.

People with disabilities who have a wheelchair hang tag should use Public Parking Lot 2 and enter from South Avenue. 


Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.