Lilac Heaven

The Link, Spring 2019
| by Reva Nelson |

The sound and scents of spring: children laughing as they run free with no boots or heavy coats; bright, shiny green leaves on trees; and the unmistakable smell of fresh blooming, heavenly scented lilacs.

Upon first attending the Warkworth Lilac Festival two years ago, I noticed this small town in Trent Hills was filled with happy people wandering along the street, and a horse-drawn buggy overflowing with children’s smiling faces. The walk from the parking lot along the path to the vendors’ booths overflows with lilac bushes, and the fresh, invigorating smell enveloped me immediately. Surrounded by all shades of purple, pink and white lilacs, I felt wrapped in spring itself!

Now in its 9th season, this month-long festival has over 300 plants with 83 unique varieties developed over the years. The jubilee lilac was introduced to the world in Warkworth to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. A deep, reddish purple, they can be found along the Millennium Lilac Trail.

Most lilacs peak in late May to early June. Now that peonies and lilies are being added to the trail, sweet fragrances will also continue in June and July. There is an extension to the Millennium Lilac Trail this year with a loop that makes it easy to follow and end up where you started. The lilacs are now visible on both sides of the Trail following along the gently flowing Mill Creek.

For your added enjoyment several artists new to the Festival this year will be lining the Trail with their works on display. There’s even more art to view in ‘Art around Ah!’ taking place in the Art and Heritage Centre on Mill Street. In addition, the Crafters’ Market features 16 exhibitors showcasing knitted designs, jewellery, crafts and the Spirit of the Hills writers who will be on hand to talk about their books. Feeling ready for a snack? Enjoy the Victorian Tea in the gazebo.

The ‘Touch of Lilac Design’ consists of floral displays that are eligible for the People’s Choice Award and there are also lilacs for sale on the Main Street. There’s even a purple piano available for anyone that can play! Horse-drawn wagon rides, free for children ($2 for adults), adds even more charm to the day. ‘Blades of Glory’ will take place for children – not with skates but swords.

Presented in the Lilac Room of the Town Hall Centre for the Arts, this year features ‘Focus on Jazz,’ with Howard Baer, the Music Director of the Moonglow Jazz Strings ($40). The nostalgic sounds, rarely performed on strings alone, will offer works formerly sung by Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker and others.

“Surrounded by all shades of purple, pink and white lilacs, I felt wrapped in spring itself!”

At the Centre & Main Chocolate Co. you can bliss out on the sweets while looking at a photography exhibit. This unique festival brings together artists, artisans, photographers, horticulturalists, gardeners, performing artists and food enthusiasts.

Janice Allen, Chairperson, says, “Over 3000 visitors attended last year, including some bus tours from Toronto.” It may be a small-town event, but it’s a big deal for locals, Northumberland County and everyone else that loves the smell and look of lilacs as they welcome spring.

Reva Nelson is a writer, facilitator and personal coach who leads workshops and helps people move from ‘intention to action.’ Author of three books, she now lives in Cobourg.

Warkworth Lilac Festival:
Opening weekend, Saturday,
May 25 and Sunday, May 26

Blades of Glory:
May 25, 11:30 am to 12:30 pm

Focus on Jazz:
May 25 only, 8 to 10:30 pm, $40

The soccer field off County Rd. 29

For full event listings and more details, visit

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