Follow Your Nose to the 2010 Mackinac Island Lilac Festival

Mackinac Island celebrates one of it’s most spectacular assets at the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival, a premiere Michigan festival, from June 11-20.

When it comes to vacation destinations that appeal to your olfactory senses, Mackinac Island ranks at the top.  The sweet smells of fresh fudge wash into the street all summer long.  The not-so-sweet (but still charming) stench of “road apples” left by horses, the island’s preferred mode of transportation, welcomes visitors downtown.   But it is the fragrance of pink and purple blossoms that usher in June that has been publicly celebrated since 1949.  This June 11-20, the annual Lilac Festival welcomes visitors from around the world to sniff the air to their heart’s content.

We’ve highlighted a few of the many events (think seven pages worth) planned for the 2010 Mackinac Island Lilac Festival, and interspersed them with fun lilac facts…perfect for you “nosey” travelers.

Everyday: 10 a.m. Walk and Talk with Lilacs Join the island’s resident lilac guru, Jeff Young, to learn more about those that live on Mackinac, and also, how to better care for your own lilacs back home.  Impress Young by already knowing that Mackinac is home to one of the largest collections of lilac varieties on the planet and that it is home to the oldest living lilacs in America—which makes sense, considering lilacs have been growing there since the 1600s.

3:30-5 p.m. Grand Afternoon Tea It seems only fitting to attend this 100+ year old tradition when honoring a blossom as dainty and classic as the Lilac.  Head to the Grand Hotel parlor at least once during the festival, to partake in tea, sherry, champagne and fancy finger foods galore.  $25 per person, additional $10 hotel entrance fee for non-guests.  While you won’t likely be drinking lilac blossoms, the fragrance alone can enhance each sip (especially when paired with white teas).

10 p.m. Downtown Entertainment  Dance the night away in any of the Island’s well-known hotspots.  Tuck a splash of lilac essential oil behind your ears and savor the medicinal mellowing agent’s powers (perhaps it will help you still feel good in the morning).

Special Events June 12 9:30 a.m. Lilac Festival 10k The perfect place to have to catch your breath, especially since the largest lilacs are found near the shore (check out the grounds near St. Anne’s for some real beauties).  Run through historic downtown, up the center of the island and finish along shore road.  For children there is a walk/fun run that will take place in the schoolyard at 11 a.m.

June 17 Taste of Mackinac Chefs from around the island will showcase their favorite dishes at this culinary classic that includes beer, wine, and soft drinks.  $15 for adults,$10 for teens $5 for children and kids four and under eat free.  Don’t be surprised if there is a blossom or two in the dishes—lilacs are edible (so long as they are pesticide free).  Try them in salads, or enjoy the slightly bitter and lemony flavor crystallized with egg whites and sugar.June 20 Lilac Festival Grand Parade The original event of the Lilac Festival, this Library of Congress Local Legacy event is as big as small town’s get.  Back in 1949, Ling Horn and Nurse Stella King talked then teen (and today’s Mackinac Island Carriage Tours Veterinarian Bill Chambers) into putting together a horse-drawn parade on Lilac Sunday.  We’re guessing the island is awful glad he did.

For more information on the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival.

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