Lilac Sunday

Lilacs at the Arnold Arboretum

Lilac Sunday

Sunday, May 8, 2016 (10:00am to 3:00pm)

About Of the thousands of flowering plants in the Arboretum, only one, the lilac, is singled out each year for a daylong celebration. Mainly located on the edge of Bussey Hill Road in the heart of the landscape, the lilac collection at the Arnold Arboretum is among the premier collections of these plants in North America.

Tours of the lilacs and other special collections, family activities, and food vendors make for a memorable day. Be a part of this beloved Boston tradition! Check back for the day-of schedule of events.

The Arboretum is open as usual from dawn to dusk. Activities are available from 10:00am to 3:00pm, and refreshments are available from 11:00am to 3:00pm.

Note that due to road construction at the former Casey Overpass, you may wish to seek an alternate route to Lilac Sunday. Traffic can move through this area, though there are restrictions.

Street parking along the Arboretum perimeter is limited and visitors are advised to take public transportation. No unauthorized vehicles will be allowed within the gates during Lilac Sunday.

Some parking spaces outside the gates will be designated for special-needs visitors. A limited number of wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis at information tents in three locations: in front of the Hunnewell Visitor Center, inside the Forest Hills Gate, and inside the Centre Street Gate. They may not be reserved in advance.

Lilac Collection:
With more than 370 lilac plants of 167 kinds, the Arboretum holds one of the premier lilac collections in North America.

Become a member:
Join the Friends of the Arnold Arboretum as a new member at the Household level ($50) on Lilac Sunday and receive a special lilac seedling while supplies last. Look for the membership tent near the lilacs.

Find out more about this event and lilacs at the Arnold Arboretum.


Lilac Sunday 2016 T-shirts will be for sale in the Hunnewell Building Visitor Center and in the landscape across from the lilac collection.

The winner of our Lilac Sunday 2016 T-Shirt design contest is Jessica Halley of North Kingstown, Rhode Island. A lilac enthusiast since reading The Last Unicorn as a child, Jessica Halley has attended Lilac Sunday since 2012 and is ecstatic to provide art for the 2016 event. She graduated from Smith College and holds certificates in Children’s Book Illustration and Comic+Sequential Art from the Rhode Island School of Design. She currently divides her time between paper-cut commissions, marker and colored pencils illustrations for book projects, and taking care of her collection of lilacs from the Arnold Arboretum’s member plant giveaways. To see more of her work, visit her online portfolio at

Tours Enjoy the lilacs, and explore other featured collections at the Arboretum. Tours last about 45 minutes and include general Arboretum tours, tours of the lilacs, and the Leventritt Shrub & Vine Garden.

Self-Guided Lilac Tour
Enjoy signs in the landscape at featured lilacs to learn as you enjoy the amazing diversity of this special collection. Download a tour brochure [pdf] to accompany the tour, or use your smartphone to walk the lilac tour using our new mobile app, Arboretum Explorer.

Other 10:00am–3:00pm
Become a member of the Friends of the Arnold Arboretum at the Household level ($50) and receive a free lilac! This year’s new member lilac is ‘Sister Justina‘, a cultivar of the Hyacinth lilac.

Explore on Your Own
Conifer Path showcases the diversity of coniferous plants from temperate regions around the world including the dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) and golden larch (Pseudolarix amabilis). Mobile tour »

The Bonsai & Penjing Collection is a historic collection of Japanese dwarfed trees—some specimens are over 275 years old.

The Malus Collection (apples/crabapples) on Peter’s Hill bloom in white and shades of red ranging from pale pink to deep purplish rose creating a spectacular display among our 445 plants in this collection. Mobile tour »

Rhododendron Dell at the foot of Hemlock Hill is a contemplative landscape showcasing the Arboretum’s core collection of hybrid and evergreen rhododendrons. Mobile tour »

Kids 10:00am–3:00pm
Horticulture Truck Display
Come see a display of the various trucks used to take care of the Arboretum. Arborists will be on hand to answer questions!
—Centre Street Gate

Family Activities
—Hunnewell Lawn

  • Lilac memory card game
  • Design your own Mother’s Day card
  • Lilac and pollinator temporary tattoos
  • Origami
  • Fragrance tests
  • Mug board for photos
Food Food Truck Vendors
Serving from 11:00am-3:00pm. Participating vendors include:

· The Bacon Truck · Bon Me · Cameo Macaroon
· Chicken and Rice Guys · Chik Chak · Chili Mango and Lime
· Clover · Compliments Food Co · The Dining Car
· Frozen Hoagies · Heritage Truck · Jamaica Mi Hungry
· M&M BBQ Ribs · Mei Mei Street Kitchen · Munch Mobile Kitchen
· North East of the Border · Roxy’s Grilled Cheese · YummBai
· Zinneken’s Waffles


Press Please contact Jon Hetman for further information, additional images, or press queries.

Lilac Sunday 2016 Press Release
Publicity Image 1 [Credit: Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University]
Publicity Image 2 [Credit: Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University]
Publicity Image 3 [Credit: Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University]
Lilac Collection at the Arnold Arboretum
Lilacs–Plants of History, Plants of Tomorrow
Best Lilacs for New England Gardens