Signs of Spring: Cherry Blossom, Lilac, Tulip, and Peony Festivals in Upstate New York

With spring officially here, flower festivals aren’t far away. After cancellations and reimagined, sometimes virtual, events due to the coronavirus pandemic, celebrations around these seasonal blooms are coming back from a colorful hiatus.

Here’s where to find floral events and spring gardens throughout upstate New York:

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens Spring Flower Display

A host of flower-filled events, the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens Spring Flower Exhibit showcases the sights and smells of colorful and fragrant blooms like hyacinths, daffodils and tulips. New to the event this year will be a mix of garden-grown Technicolor annuals to make it even more festive. The Botanical Rabbit will also make an appearance one weekend in April. The price of the exhibition is included with general admission to the gardens.

When: From March 26 to April 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Or: 2655 South Park Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14218

For more information, visit buffalogardens.com.

Buffalo Cherry Blossom Festival

The Buffalo Japanese Garden in Delaware Park hosts their annual Cherry Blossom Festival. A blizzard of flowers celebrates the end of winter in this snowy town. With its scenic setting on Mirror Lake, walks in the park or boat rides make for a great spring day. The Western New York Japanese Garden was first completed in 1974 after Buffalo became a sister city to Kanazawa, the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan.

When: April 30-May 1

Or: Behind the Buffalo History Museum at 1 Museum Court, Buffalo, NY 14216

For more information, visit buffalocherryblossomfestival.org.

Rochester Lilac Festival

Highland Park hosts the annual Rochester Lilac Festival and is the largest free festival of its kind in North America, according to its website. The Flower City Festival features food, wine and beer tastings, free live music, a charity run and plenty of fragrant lilacs to savor. Be sure to take a walk as you can also find cherry blossoms, tulips, and other spring flowers in this park. This year’s festival returns with more than a dozen free headlining concerts, including Blues Traveler.

When: May 6-8, 12-15 and 19-22

Or: Highland Park, 180 Reservoir Ave, Rochester, NY 14620

For more information, visit the Lilac Festival website.

Albany Tulip Festival

The Tulip Festival is Albany’s signature spring event with more than 140,000 tulips of 150 different varieties in the 81 acres of downtown Washington Park. The capital celebrates its Dutch heritage with over 100 artisans, a fine arts show, local cuisine, family activities, two live entertainment stages and more. This year marks the return of the Queen’s Coronation and the Tulip Court.

When: May 7-8

Or: Washington Park, 1 New Scotland Ave, Albany NY 12208

For more information, visit the Albany Tulip Festival website.

Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park Spring Wildflower and Orchid Show

Celebrate the arrival of spring in the Finger Lakes with a stroll through the Sonnenberg Arboretum and Gardens teeming with early spring flowers. The historic greenhouse will also feature beautiful orchids on display and for sale.

When: April 29 – May 1

Or: 151 Charlotte Street, Canandaigua, NY 14424

For more information, visit www.sonnenberg.org.

Mohonk Mountain House Tulip Festival

Thousands of tulips adorn the grounds of the Victorian Show Garden at Mohonk Mountain House. Located on Lake Mohonk in the Shawangunk Mountains, these gardens are also part of the resort hotel’s Spring Celebration in May. Join the greenhouse staff for a walk among the tulips, play croquet at a garden party, enjoy a marshmallow campfire, create spring crafts and more throughout this Hudson Valley spring event.

When: April 25-May 8

Or: 1000 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz, NY 12561

For more information, visit the Mohonk Mountain House website.

Linwood Tree Peony Flower Festival

For over 125 years, Linwood’s Private Gardens have been located 35 miles southwest of Rochester in Linwood, NY. Among its ornamental garden landscape, Linwood is home to an extensive and rare collection of over 114 varieties of Japanese and American tree peonies. These shorter, shrub-like trees can grow up to 8 feet tall and are filled with giant rainbow-colored flowers. The annual Tree Peony Flower Festival allows the public to come and enjoy this special collection.

When: May 21-22, May 28-29 and June 4-5

Or: 1912 York Road West, Linwood, NY 14486

For more information, visit the Tree Peony Flower Festival website.

Spring isn’t the only flower festival season. In the summer, America’s greatest garden tour, the Buffalo Garden Walk, also returns this year. One of the biggest events of its kind, the self-guided tour showcases over 300 beautiful gardens across the city. This year’s event will take place July 30-31 and more information can be found on the Gardens Buffalo Niagara website.

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