Your Guide to Lilac Sunday 2015

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An Arnold Arboretum lilac. Scientific name: Syringa vulgaris 'Hulda'

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

An Arnold Arboretum lilac. Scientific name: Syringa vulgaris 'Hulda'

An Arnold Arboretum lilac. Scientific name: Syringa vulgaris 'Hulda'

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

An Arnold Arboretum lilac. Scientific name: Syringa vulgaris 'Hulda'

If you plan to join the thousands of people enjoying Lilac Sunday at the Arnold Arboretum, here's what you need to know. First of all, don't drive.

Really. Don't do it.

It's good advice every year but it's crucial for Sunday's edition of the event. That's because on Saturday, the state is closing the inbound side of the Casey Overpass. That's the side of the decrepit span going toward the Arboretum.

Inbound traffic will be shunted to a new temporary road. Arboretum officials encourage choosing a different route to the festivities than one involving the Casey.

How to Get There

Did we mention that you shouldn't drive? Okay.

Much better is to walk, bike or take the T. Forest Hills Station sits just down the hill from the epicenter of lilac blooms along Bussey Hill Road. The Orange Line ends at Forest Hills or take the 39 Bus. Here's a link to a simple Arboretum map, also embedded below.

[scribd-doc doc=264453777 key=key-T4lmjC2KACexwzvqHgYv mode=scroll]

If you're coming from further away, here are suggested directions from the Arboretum's Web site.

When to Come

This year's Lilac Sunday is Sunday, May 10. The event runs 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


As of Wednesday night, the forecast for Sunday was mostly sunny with highs of 84.

What to Do

Stroll: Walk with your mother and admire the lilacs, of course. The Arboretum has one of the nation's best collections, with 374 lilacs of 167 kinds. But there's much more to do.

Tour: Arboretum staff will be providing a number of guided tours. Here's what they are and where they meet.

Entertain the Kids: The Arboretum will also offer activities for kids and families, like a horticultural truck display by the Centre Street gate.

Chow Down, Part I: It's the only day of the year picnicking is tolerated in the Arboretum. There aren't any picnic tables, but most folks bring a blanket to spread out.

Chow Down, Part II: If you don't pack your own food, have no fear. A fleet of food trucks will be on hand, including crowd favorites like Bon Me, Roxy's Grilled Cheese and JP-born Batch Ice Cream.

See Dancers: Depending on where you stand on English folk dance, the Morris dancers are either to be enjoyed or fled from. But they'll be around.

Get the App

Screen shot of Arboretum Explorer, available at

Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

Screen shot of Arboretum Explorer, available at

Whether you're visiting just for Lilac Sunday or you're a resident who often walks through the Arbs, consider adding the Arnold Arboretum's app to your smart phone. Browse over to and you'll have a nifty interactive map in your hand. Not only will it help you find your way around, you can also get specifics on the trees and the rest of the Arboretum's collections. If you're an iPhone user, we didn't find Arboretum Explorer in the app store. But you can put an icon on your phone for easy reference by using the "Add to Home Screen" button.

Support JP and Roslindale Businesses

While restaurants tend to be busy with Mother's Day, the thousands of visitors flowing into the Arboretum often don't visit Jamaica Plain's business districts (or Roslindale Square, for that matter.) As we learn of retailers who'll be open Sunday, we'll add them here.

Learn More

The Arboretum's Web site has much more information, including how to become a member.