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1927 Map of the Arboretum

Lilac Sunday


Lilac Sunday 2020 Canceled

Sunday, May 10, 2020

In keeping with CDC and Harvard COVID-19 guidelines for large gatherings, The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is canceling Lilac Sunday 2020. All formal activities such as tours, family crafts and science, and performances scheduled for Sunday, May 10 are canceled. Picnics will not be allowed on this or any day.

The lilacs will bloom as usual over the course of several weeks (typically late April through mid-to-late May). We invite you to visit during these weeks of peak lilac bloom, but request that you practice social distancing from one another and respect our plants. If the landscape appears to be too crowded for safe visitation, please return another time.

The Arnold Arboretum, as part of the Emerald Necklace, is one of the few public landscapes that remains open in the Boston area. Help us keep it open.

Please read the following information before visiting.

Guidelines for visiting:

  • All buildings and restrooms are closed. There are no portable toilets available in the landscape.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 6-10 feet from other visitors. Assess the safety of visiting the lilac collection. If crowds at the lilacs do not allow for safe social distancing, visit a different area of the landscape or return at a different time.
  • Do not touch anything. We cannot guarantee the sanitation of any surfaces, for example, benches, railings, plant identification tags, or signage.
  • Picnics are not allowed.
  • Carry in and carry out all of your belongings, including trash and dog waste.
  • As ever, be kind to our plants. Do not pick or prune plants, do not climb trees, and do not step in planting beds.

Guidelines for visiting are subject to change per COVID-19 best practices. Please check our website before visiting. Thank you for helping us maintain a safe and restorative environment for the community.

Lilac Collection:

With 397 lilac plants representing 179 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.

2020 Lilac Sunday logo by Alexander Levine.
2020 Lilac Sunday logo by Alexander Levine.


2020 Lilac Sunday logo by Alexander Levine.

Congratulations to our 2020 logo design winner, Alexander Levine of Florida and formerly of Newton, MA. Because we won’t be selling T-shirts this year, we will use Alexander’s design, updated for Lilac Sunday 2021.


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.

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 »


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

Lilac Sunday 2020 canceled press release [pdf]
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