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1927 Map of the Arboretum

Lilac Sunday


Lilacs Light Up the Arboretum

Late April through May

Enjoy the lilacs over four weeks of bloom (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.

In keeping with CDC and Harvard COVID-19 guidelines for large gatherings, the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University will not hold Lilac Sunday 2021. Formal events and public programming related to the Arboretum’s celebration of lilacs have been postponed until spring 2022, when the Arnold Arboretum will celebrate its sesquicentennial and 112th observance of Lilac Sunday. Picnics will not be permitted on this or any day.

Guidelines for visiting

  • All buildings and restrooms are closed. By May, there will be limited 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.
  • Picnics are not allowed.
  • Plan to 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 408 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.


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.

Expeditions Mobile App
Access the lilac tour—as well as over 60 additional plants and areas—on the 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.


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