A celebration of spring, Lilac Sunday arrives May 13

April 20, 2018

2018 winning design by Julie Pritchard

A celebration of spring, Lilac Sunday arrives May 13

Lilac Sunday celebrates 110 years in Boston with events from 10am–3pm


Pack a picnic…it’s Lilac Sunday! For 110 years, families have made the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University a premier destination to welcome the arrival of the flowering season in Boston. The annual observance of Lilac Sunday—this year celebrated on Sunday, May 13—centers on the Arboretum’s outstanding lilac collection at its sensational peak of bloom. In addition to highlighting the beauty and importance of plants to Earth and humanity, Lilac Sunday also honors the Arboretum’s 136-year partnership with the City of Boston and its commitment to community education and public engagement with nature. It also offers a great opportunity for the public to explore the Arnold Arboretum landscape, enjoy the sight and scent of hundreds of lilacs, and encounter some of the thousands of other species of plants in the Arboretum’s living collections.

The Arboretum’s one-of-a-kind lilac collection consists of some 397 plants representing nearly 179 different kinds of lilacs. Together, they provide a season of color and scent that extends up to six weeks each spring. As in recent years, Lilac Sunday 2018 falls on Mother’s Day, making the occasion even more special and memorable as a family destination. The event from 10am to 3pm is free, though donations and memberships to the Arboretum are appreciated and help sustain this self-supporting public garden.

Lilac Sunday showcases Boston’s unique learning landscape in bloom and offer fun, outdoor explorations for the entire family. Scheduled activities range from themed tours of lilacs and other special plant collections to an array of activities for families and children. Although food trucks will not be participating in Lilac Sunday this year, picnicking is allowed at the Arboretum on this special day only. Visitors are encouraged to use public transportation. The MBTA Forest Hills Station on the Orange Line is nearby, and several bus lines serve the Arboretum area. Parking is limited to available curb space on streets surrounding the Arboretum perimeter.

Founded in 1872 as the first public arboretum in North America, the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is a leading center for the study of biodiversity and a treasured Boston landscape open free to the public year round. One of the most comprehensive and best-documented collections of temperate woody plants in the world, the Arboretum promotes the understanding and appreciation of plants through world-class research, horticulture, and educational programs for all ages.

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