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1927 Map of the Arboretum

Lilac Sunday

Bunches of lilac flowers ranging from pale pink to magenta

May 12, 2024


Experience the springtime bloom of our renowned collection of over 400 lilacs. Visit for tours with Arboretum experts, hands-on children’s programming, dancing, meditation, chalk art, and more. Picnicking in the Arboretum landscape is permitted on this day only.

Located primarily 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. Of the thousands of flowering plants in the Arboretum (many of which can also be enjoyed at this time), only the lilac is singled out each year for a daylong celebration.

Pack a picnic and make your way to the lilac collection on Bussey Hill Road.

Perimeter parking is severely limited and thousands are expected to attend Lilac Sunday. Visitors are strongly encouraged to use public transportation.

Click here to access the event map.

Lilac Collection

With 407 lilac plants representing 173 taxa (kinds), the Arboretum holds one of the premier lilac collections in North America. Lilac Sunday has been celebrated at the Arnold Arboretum since 1908.


Dance Performances
11:45am–12:45pm | Traditional Latin American Dancing by the Veronica Robles Cultural Center
1:45pm–2:15pm | Afro-Fusion Dance performance and interactive lesson by BalletRox

Meditation Station
Get away from the crowds and relax with a 15-minute meditation on Oak Path. Meditations begin at 10:00am, 10:15am, 12:00pm, 12:15pm, 2:00pm, and 2:15pm.

Chalk Art
Four local artists will be creating beautiful chalk drawings on Valley Road and Forest Hills to celebrate spring and the lilacs, weather permitting. Artists include Max Pro, Kelly Gilmore, Keshia De Leon, and Mandee Martin.


Guided Lilac Tour
Join an Arboretum expert for a guided tour of the lilac collection. Tours depart between 10:00am–2:30pm from the Ponds.

Guided Arboretum Tour
Join us for a tour of the Arboretum’s history and key plants as you make the walk from Arborway Gate to the Lilac Collection. Tours depart between 10:00am–2:30pm from Arborway Gate.

Guided Explorer’s Garden Tour
Discover the plants gathered on the Arboretum’s collection expeditions since the early 1900s. Tours depart between 10:00am and 2:00pm on the half hour from the intersection of Hemlock Hill Road and Valley Road and end at the lilacs.

Guided Crabapple Collection Tour
The Arnold Arboretum is considered the “Mother Arboretum” for the modern crabapple. Find out why with a tour of the crabapples, which happen to reach peak bloom at the same time as the lilacs. Tours depart at 1:15pm and 2:15pm from Peters Hill Gate.

Click here to access the event schedule.


Self-Guided Lilac Tour
Signs in the landscape feature specific lilacs to reveal the amazing diversity of this special collection. Print a Self-Guided Lilac Tour. // Imprima un recorrido lila autoguiado.

Expeditions Mobile App
Access the lilac tour—as well as over 60 additional plants and areas—on our mobile app, Expeditions. The app is available in English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese/Mandarin. You can access Expeditions through your smartphone’s internet browser or download the app from the Apple App store and the Google Play store.

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).

The Malus Collection (apples/crabapples) on Peters 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.

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


Visitors are strongly encouraged to use public transportation.

The closest T-station is Forest Hills. From the Forest Hills station, cross Washington Street, walk two minutes up Arborway, and enter the Arboretum through the Forest Hills Gate on your left. The lilac collection is about a five-minute walk from the Forest Hills Gate, or a 15-minute walk from the Arborway Gate.

If you must drive, please note that there may be route changes and restrictions along Arborway. Be advised that parking along the Arborway will be extremely limited for the entire day.

Please also note that South Street may be closed to vehicular traffic between the intersection of South & Bussey Streets and the intersection of South Street & Archdale Road.


Street parking along the Arboretum perimeter is limited on Lilac Sunday. No unauthorized vehicles are allowed within the gates. Public transportation is strongly encouraged.


Parking and Drop-off
Parking spaces designated for visitors with disabilities will be available along Arborway at both Arborway Gate and Forest Hills Gate. A handful will also be available at Centre Street Gate and Walter Street Gate.

If you are dropping off a visitor with a disability, we recommend doing so at Forest Hills Gate. Of all the gates, Forest Hills Gate has the most accommodating space and is near the lilacs (about a five-minute walk).

A limited number of wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis at information tents in four locations: in front of the Hunnewell Visitor Center, inside the Forest Hills Gate, inside the Centre Street Gate, and inside the Bussey Street Gate. They may not be reserved in advance.

Assisted Listening Devices
Five assisted listening devices will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Lilac Tours tent located by the ponds.

If you would like to request additional accommodation, please email


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

Lilac Sunday 2024 Press Release
Publicity Image 1 [Credit: Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University]
Publicity Image 2 [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