Of the thousands of flowering plants in the Arboretum, only one, the lilac, is singled out each year for a daylong celebration. Mainly located 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. Lilac Sunday has been celebrated at the Arnold Arboretum since 1908.
Tours of the lilacs and family activities are available from 10:00am to 3:00pm on Sunday, May 12. Picnicking is permitted on this day only, but food must be brought in to the Arboretum—no food vendors on site. The landscape is open from dawn until dusk. Print a landscape map.
Street parking along the Arboretum perimeter is limited. Visitors are advised to take public transportation. No unauthorized vehicles are allowed within the gates on weekends.
Some parking spaces outside the gates are designated for special-needs visitors. A limited number of wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis at information tents in three locations: in front of the Hunnewell Visitor Center, inside the Forest Hills Gate, and inside the Centre Street Gate. They may not be reserved in advance.
With 397 lilac plants representing 179 taxa (kinds), the Arboretum holds one of the premier lilac collections in North America.
Become a member:
Join the Friends of the Arnold Arboretum as a new member at the Contributing level ($50) on Lilac Sunday and receive a special lilac plant while supplies last. Look for the membership tent near the lilacs.
T-shirt Design Contest
Submit your design to be printed on the 2019 Lilac Sunday T-Shirt. The contest deadline is January 14, 2019. Last year’s winning t-shirt design for the Arnold Arboretum’s annual Lilac Sunday event was created by Julie Pritchard, a graphic designer who favors tangible print design. She has created dozens of brand identities over the years for businesses, non-profits, and fun as the art director of her own studio. More recently she has begun designing jigsaw puzzles based on New England coastal history and nautical themes, launching her new company Dashing Dan Puzzles. For Lilac Sunday, Julie’s design celebrated spring renewal and the lilac’s fragrant and fleeting certainty.
At Lilac Sunday, t-shirts featuring the winning design for 2019 will be for sale in the Hunnewell Building Visitor Center and in the landscape near the lilac collection.