Every year Mackinac Island is transformed into a purple and green wonderland. The scent of lilacs fills the air for Lilac Festival, which is an annual 10-day event that celebrates the famous purple and white lilacs of Mackinac Island, Michigan. Originally brought to the island by French traders more than 250 years ago, lilacs may not be native to the island. Still, they have certainly thrived here and become a natural part of the island’s ecosystem.
Mackinac Island Lilac Festival
Date: June 4th-13th, 2021
Location: Mackinac Island, Michigan
Cost: No Admission Fee
Parking: Cars are not allowed on Mackinac Island
Age Range: All Ages
Family Friendly: Yes
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Events: Races, tours, unique food and drinks, parades, and more.
See the full list of events and schedules here.
Read more about how to make the most of your time on Mackinac Island below:
The Ultimate Guide to Lilac Festival on Mackinac Island
The Lilac Suite at Grand Hotel
Grand Hotel Bucket List (Quiz)
The Jewel Golf Course
Woods Restaurant on Mackinac Island
10 Best Places to Grab a Drink at Grand Hotel
Stunning Rooms and Suites at Grand Hotel
12 Things to Know Before Visiting Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI
What to Wear at the Grand Hotel
Jockey Club Restaurant on Mackinac Island, MI
10 Reasons to Visit Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI
A Guide to Dining at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI
Mackinac Island’s Lilac Festival attracts flower enthusiasts and travelers from around the world and has been one of the most respected festivals in the world for the last 71 years. This guide will help you make the most of your time on the island and inspire your lilac adventure.
Envelop your senses in lilacs by enjoying some of the many, many events offered during the 10-day celebration. Visitors can experience everything from lilac-themed events to lilac scented drinks and inspired dishes. Below are some of my favorite events offered during the festival.
Grand Hotel Garden Tours
Daily 10 am during Lilac Festival, $10 admission for non-hotel guests (free for guests)
Explore Grand Hotel’s sumptuous gardens full of lilacs and more than 150 varieties of other flowers, such as geraniums, dahlias, tulips, nasturtiums, roses, lilies, cosmos, and many more. The master gardener will also share gardening advice, educate about flowers, and share the process of planning and planting the more than 100,000 plants and flowers that decorate Grand Hotel.
Lilac Festival 10k Walk / Run
June 8th 9:30am at Windemere Point
I can’t think of a more beautiful place to run a race than Mackinac Island, which overlooks the Straits of Mackinac, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron, and of course, thousands of lilacs.
A Taste of Mackinac
June 13th, 2019, 5 pm at Marquette Park
Enjoy inspired, award-winning culinary creations paired perfectly with expertly selected beverages.
June 14th, 3 pm at St. Anne’s Church
Master Gardeners will teach guests how to plant and care for Lilac trees and bushes properly.
June 15th, 1 pm at Mackinac Island Tourism Booth
A lilac expert will show the most beautiful lilac viewing spots on the island and provide the rich history of lilacs on the island.
Lilac Festival Grand Parade
June 16th, 2019 4 pm on Main Street
One of my favorite parades in the state, it’s perfect for all ages and celebrates the closing of another successful Lilac Festival.
Getting to Mackinac Island and Getting Around
Mackinac Island is one of the most beautiful and unique islands in the world because cars are not allowed on the island, which means once guests are on the island, they can bike, walk, or ride horses around Michigan’s jewel. Visitors can reach Mackinac Island via charter plane or ferry. I personally recommend going via Shepler’s Ferry service, which departs from Mackinaw City and ST. Ignace, because it’s fast, exciting, and the crew are phenomenal. We visit the island several times a year and rely on Shepler’s to get us there quickly. We always know that our luggage and bicycles will be well cared for, which is one more reason we always travel with them. You can see their ferry schedule here.
Ps. Try one of Shepler’s Mighty Mac tours! It does take a little longer to reach the island, but guests of the island get to travel underneath the Mackinac Bridge!
When to Visit
The festival runs from Thursday, June 6th, until Sunday, June 16th. Like any festival, it is busier during the weekends, so if you’re able to visit during the weekdays, you’ll have more access to the lilacs. Of course, coming during the weekends is still a wonderful experience. There are many fantastic events like the Lilac Festival Grand Parade on Sunday, June 16th, one of the most beautiful parades in the state.
Where to Stay
There’s no place more beautiful on all of Mackinac Island than Grand Hotel. They offer special packages during the Lilac Festival that make your stay even more special by adding in free garden tours, a free round of golf on The Jewel golf course, and a full breakfast and dinner every day of your stay. There’s even a chance you could even get to stay in their newly renovated Lilac Suite, which is resplendent in gorgeous purple and green lilac decor and offers an unbelievable view of the Mackinac Bridge, Straits of Mackinac, and Round Island Light.
Read more about the stunning rooms and suites of Grand Hotel here.
What to Eat
The celebration is island-wide, and everyone from local shops to individual hotels transforms their offerings to reflect the beautiful, fragrant lilac blossoms. One of my favorite drinks on the island during the Lilac Festival this year was the Electric Lilac Lemonade from Gate House. Pop into each restaurant and bar on the island to sample the seasonal specialties and discover ever-changing, flower-themed menus. Some of my favorite places to eat on the island include Sushi Grand (the island’s only sushi restaurant!), Jockey Club, and Woods.
Afternoon Tea at Grand Hotel, pictured above, is available to hotel and non-hotel guests and is a beautiful way to experience Grand Hotel, slow down and enjoy your day while sampling finger sandwiches, an assortment of sweets, champagne or sherry, and of course, tea as you like it.
Explore more places to eat on Mackinac Island here.
What to Pack and Wear
The weather can change very quickly in Northern Michigan, so I always advise travelers to prepare for the unexpected. I always recommend a few light layers, including a waterproof windbreaker, so that you can add or remove layers as necessary. Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, camera, memory card, and batteries, and good walking shoes are also a must. Should you arrive and find you’ve forgotten something, there are plenty of shops on the island that have whatever you might need from your head to your toes.
In the event of rain, you’ll find that the lilac blossoms are even more exquisite when dotted with water droplets and that the rain can help amplify the splendid colors of each bloom.
Read my packing guide for Mackinac Island here.
Until next time!