Lilacs and Tulips: Two Michigan celebrations win the award for best flower festival in the United States

Lilacs and Tulips: Two Michigan celebrations win the award for best flower festival in the United States

The big, showy lilacs that perfume the streets of Mackinac Island, and the colorful tulips with slender stems that dot Holland’s parks and public spaces: voters, it turns out, like both — a lot. Mackinac’s Lilac Festival and the Dutch Tulip Time Festival both took top honors in USA Today’s search for Best Flower Festival, part of the “Top 10 Readers’ Choice Awards.”

Mackinac’s Biggest Summer Celebration reached second place on the top 10 list, with Holland right behind him, taking third place. Both played runner-up to the winner: Blooms Zoo at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden (what? Ohio? who’s voting here?)

Other big-name flower festivals that made the top 10 include the California Poppy Festival and the International Cherry Blossom Festival in Georgia. Voting has been open for several weeks. You can see the full list here.

Mill de Zoan overlooks the tulips at Windmill Island Gardens in Holland, Michigan. (Photo by Joel Bissell | MLive)

“The Mackinac Island Lilac Festival is a special way for our community to come together to honor lilacs and their uniqueness and history on the Island every season. We are grateful to USA TODAY’s Top 10 readers for recognizing this and voting it as one of the best flower festivals in the country. We are grateful for the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival,” said Tim Hague, Executive Director of the Island Tourism Office. Mackinac, we are looking forward to the festival festivities in June.

Mackinac’s 10 most recent Readers’ Choice Awards include Best Summer Travel Destination in 2023 and One of Best Fall Travel Destinations last year.

Last year, the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival celebrated its 75th anniversary. This year’s festival is scheduled to take place from June 7 to 16.

What makes Mackinac lilac so special? Some of the oldest lilacs in the United States grow at this popular vacation spot in northern Michigan. It has become Mackinac’s signature flower, so much so that ten days of fun events are planned each summer to highlight it.

Lilacs are everywhere on Mackinac. By mid-June, you can usually smell their sweetness before you see them. They are planted in public parks, grow over neighborhood back fences, and even thrive near the beach in some locations — making for Instagram-worthy photos.

“Every season lilacs bloom on Mackinac Island, they remind us of the island’s rich history and stunning landscape,” said Mackinac Island Mayor Margaret Dodd. “As we prepare to welcome guests for the 2024 season, this recognition underscores our commitment to providing visitors with unforgettable experiences and preserving the magic of Mackinac for generations to come.”

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