Mackinac Island’s 56th Annual Lilac Festival Features Flowers and a Bouquet of Other Activities

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich., June 9 /PRNewswire/ — Everything will be coming up lilacs when Mackinac Island’s 56th annual Lilac Festival kicks off June 10 to celebrate summer and the Island’s millions of gorgeous lilac blooms.

The 10-day celebration, which concludes on Father’s Day, is the first and largest summer event on the Island, attracting thousands of visitors each year. A celebration that blends the Island’s historic varieties of lilacs — many of which were brought here during the Colonial era — distinctive equestrian culture, fine food, drink and accommodations plus a range of other activities, the festival is one of the Island’s biggest attractions.

This year’s event also will be a preview of 2007, when the International Lilac Society will hold its annual conference here for the first time since 1997.

“The festival celebrates its most recognized symbol, the lilac, while emphasizing its international, cultural and historic appeal,” said Mary McGuire Slevin, executive director, Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau. “We have added elements to this year’s festival to keep repeat visitors intrigued while targeting nature, equine, canine, music and wine enthusiasts.”

Festivities include the Midwest’s most unique and largest all-horse hitch parade, fireworks display, coronation of the Lilac Festival Queen and Court, Queen’s Rave (a contemporary twist on prom), Grand Hotel Garden Tours, free concerts, walk-and-talk tours with members of the International Lilac Society, Lilacs Around the World Martini and Cigar Putting Championship and the Taste of Mackinac Culinary Event.

Held on the lawn of the Harbour View Inn, the Taste of Mackinac provides locals and visitors an opportunity to sample culinary favorites served by chefs from the Island’s restaurants. Cuisine ranges from Colonial to contemporary and includes fares such as Austrian, French, Irish, Italian, Jamaican and Mexican.

New events this year include the Feast of Epona; Epona & Barkus Parade; Dog & Pony Show; drive-in movie at Mission Point Resort; sunset jazz cruise; Tall Ship wine tasting and excursion around the Island; and twilight kayaking tours.

Celebrating equine and canine companions, this year’s Lilac Festival will introduce the first annual Feast of Epona and Epona & Barkus Parade. The literal Dog and Pony show will include a blessing of the animals, pony appreciation, horse etiquette, an owner/dog look-alike contest, agility demonstrations and more.

Named one of the top 10 pet-friendly places in the U.S. by National Geographic Kids, Mackinac Island hosts more than 600 horses and hundreds of dogs seasonally and offers numerous dog-friendly properties, including outdoor cafes, bed-and-breakfasts and area hotels, including the Harbor Place Studio Suites, Sunset Condos and Mission Point Resort.

Looking to the future, the International Lilac Society recognizes Mackinac Island’s lilac collection and will bring its annual convention to Mackinac Island in 2007. The convention will include lilac and flower garden tours, speakers, a lilac auction and various other activities.

“Hosting the International Lilac Society Convention is a unique opportunity to gather the world’s foremost lilac experts and enthusiasts,” said Slevin. “Mackinac Island is home to some of the country’s oldest and most beautiful lilacs, and will provide a unique backdrop and conversation piece for convention attendees and organizers.”

About Mackinac Island:

Mackinac Island is a National Historic Landmark located between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas and covers 2,200 acres of land. The Island banned private motor vehicle use during the last century and today relies on the services of more than 600 horses to provide residents and visitors transportation around the Island.

Mackinac hosts more than a half-million visitors each year and is home to the Lilac Festival, Chicago & Bay View Yacht Clubs’ Race to Mackinac Boat Race, Fudge Festival, Grand Hotel Labor Day Jazz Festival and Somewhere in Time Weekend. For more information visit, http://www.mackinacisland.org/ or call 1-800-4LILACS.

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