Life » Culture

The ultimate guide to the 2022 festival season

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Ready to stroll in the sun while listening to tunes, browsing the wares of merchants and artists, and munching on a bag of kettle corn that’s half your height? Welcome to the 2022 festival season, which promises (fingers crossed!) an almost-full return to its pre-pandemic glory.

Dozens of festivals celebrating music, the arts, culture, gardens, and life are scheduled through the fall, state health guidelines permitting.

Some festivals became COVID casualties and aren’t returning this year, either because organizers don’t want to invest in the prep time while still unsure of the direction the virus could take, or because the planning committees and chairpersons were burned out and elected not to serve this year.

But this year’s slate of festivals feels full. Here it is in chronological order:

The Rochester Lilac Festival, held annually in Highland Park, was held over three weekends in 2021 to help spread out the concentration of festivalgoers. The three-weekend format will continue in 2022 due to its success. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • The Rochester Lilac Festival, held annually in Highland Park, was held over three weekends in 2021 to help spread out the concentration of festivalgoers. The three-weekend format will continue in 2022 due to its success.
Rochester Lilac Festival
Friday, May 6 through Sunday, May 22
One of the enduring signs of spring in Rochester is the blooming of the lilacs, and the kickoff of festival season at Highland Park. The 124th edition of the Lilac Festival follows last year’s three-weekend format, and features food trucks, vendors, and — after two long years — the return of large, live music events. The music lineup includes headliners Blues Traveler (May 6), Uprooted Band with Michael Glabiki of Rusted Root (May 12), local reggae darlings Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad (May 22), and tribute acts to Phish, The Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, and others.

This year also welcomes the return of the Lilac Festival parade, with more than 125 marching units and more than 3,200 groups participating, the Lilac Run at Highland Park, and the Wine & Beer expos (with an expanded footprint). New this year is the Lilac Health and Wellness Experience. rochesterevents.com/lilac-festival



Rochester Dachshund Parade
Saturday, May 7
This month the Rochester Dachshund Parade celebrates 20 years of its annual fashion show and trot around Washington Square Park. Get your pup primped in a unique costume and head down to the park at 10 a.m. to sing Dachshund songs, participate in the fashion show, and take part in other festivities before the parade, which kicks off at 11:30 a.m. You don’t have to be a Dachshund owner to participate, but being a dog lover is certainly required. Organizations dedicated to the relief of animal suffering will be on site. Oh, and here’s hoping there are no high winds, which in the past have delayed the event for fear that the little dogs will blow away! dachshundparade.com
The Rochester Dachshund Parade celebrates the diminutive pups with a promenade around Washington Square Park. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • The Rochester Dachshund Parade celebrates the diminutive pups with a promenade around Washington Square Park.
Geneva Music Festival
Friday, May 20 through Sunday, June 12
This year’s theme is “New Beginnings,” a nod to the festival entering its second decade, and to the idea of musical innovation in genres, the compositional techniques, and the national styles to be presented. The music lineup includes guest artists making their debut in Geneva, including the Montose Trio, the Ulysses Quartet, and the Jeff Hamilton Trio. Returning artists include ATLYS and other favorites. Concerts take place at several venues in Geneva. genevamusicfestival.com

Tree Peony Festival of Flowers
Saturdays and Sundays, May 21 through Sunday, June 5
For three weekends starting in late May, the private Linwood Gardens opens its grounds to the public for the blossoming of the tree peonies, which turn the already serene spot into a veritable paradise. The grounds are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each weekend, and advance reservations are required. Admission is a $10 suggested donation per adult (kids get in free) or $15 per adult if you’d like to take part in the guided historical tour, which lasts an hour and includes information about the history of the summer house, family, and gardens at 1912 York Road West, Linwood, Livingston County. Sweet Arts Bakery will be on site with light lunch and treats for purchase. More info at linwoodgardens.org/festival2022.

GlassFest
Thursday, May 26 through Sunday, May 29
Appropriately hosted in Corning, home of the Museum of Glass, GlassFest is a celebration of glassmaking and so much more. In addition to a Friday night “Featured Artist Stroll” — where you can watch live glassmaking and shop for finished wares — there’s live music and entertainment, food, drinks, and more. gafferdistrict.com/events/annual-events-festivals/glassfest-2022

Annunciation Rochester Greek Festival
Thursday, June 2 through Sunday, June 5
Spanakopita, gyros, lamb shanks, flaming cheese, dancing, refreshing drinks, kids' activities, and shopping at the Greek marketplace await the whole family at the Greek Orthodox Church, 962 East Ave. rochestergreekfestival.com

Fairport Canal Days
Friday, June 3 through Sunday, June 5
Celebrating 45 years, Fairport Canal Days returns with three days of music, food vendors, and art merchants, as well as the popular Erie Canal rubber duck race for charity. fairportcanaldays.com

19th Ward Square Fair
Saturday, June 4
Each first Saturday in June, the 19th Ward Association hosts the Square Fair, a neighborhood festival celebrating community. The event is held in Aberdeen Square, 330 Post Ave., and kicks off with a pancake breakfast at 8 a.m., followed by games and activities for kids, local vendors, entertainment, and more until 4:30 p.m. A parade starts at 11 a.m., leaving from the 19th Ward Community Association office at 216 Thurston Road. 19wca.org

The Fast & the Furriest
Saturday, June 4
A must-attend event for animal lovers, the 16th annual The Fast & The Furriest Dog Walk and Pet Fest returns as an in-person event for the first time in two years, featuring a 5K and 10K walk, live music, food trucks, sponsor giveaways, vendors, pet contests, and other activities for families, including the furrier members. A virtual option for the dog walks will be available for those who can’t attend in person. Proceeds from the race and fest help fund food, shelter, enrichment, and medical care for shelter animals, and support adoption, lost and found, and spay/neuter programs. 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Rochester Animal Services,184 Verona St. vsas.org

The Rochester Cocktail Revival returns for its 9th year, with dozens of participating venues. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • The Rochester Cocktail Revival returns for its 9th year, with dozens of participating venues.
Rochester Cocktail Revival
Monday, June 6 through Sunday, June 12
Celebrating nine years, this week-long celebration of the craft of cocktails hosts dozens of events that take you on a tour of 27 different Rochester bars. This is one of the social events of the summer. rochestercocktailrevival.com

Adirondack Mountain Club's Outdoor Expo
Saturday, June 11
Want to be outdoorsy, but don’t know where to start? The annual Outdoor Expo includes demonstrations and workshops for hiking, canoeing, kayaking, backpacking, camping, bicycling and other related outdoor activities, all presented by a variety of local clubs and organizations. The day’s soundtrack will be provided by Golden Link Folk Singing Society. Sponsored by the Genesee Valley Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club and Monroe County Parks, the festival will take place 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the Beach Area of Mendon Ponds Park, Douglas Road, Mendon. Admission is free. gvc-adk.org

Rochester Real Beer Expo
Saturday, June 11
After a two-year delay, this South Wedge celebration of suds returns to celebrate its 10th year with a showcase of 120 craft beers and street party with live music and food vendors. The event takes place from 6 to 10 p.m., with a VIP hour kicking off at 5 p.m. Tickets are $50-$70 ($10 for DD) and the event sells out every year. All proceeds from the event fund projects like public art, community events, and neighborhood improvements.
rochesterrealbeer.com

Keuka Arts Festival
Saturday, June 11 and Sunday, June 12
Festivities along the Keuka Lake Outlet Trail, just a short walk from downtown Penn Yan, include fine arts and crafts vendors, food, and live blues and jazz. The free event also features family activities, clowns, and art demonstrations. keukaartsfestival.com

Dances at MuCCC
Tuesday, June 7 through Saturday, June 18
The annual celebration of dance features a series of contemporary performances by a variety of choreographers and companies on the stage at 142 Atlantic Ave. This year’s highlights haven’t been announced yet, so check out muccc.org.

Rochester Harborfest
Friday, June 17 through Sunday, June 19
Marking the opening of the summer season at Charlotte beach as well as the 200th anniversary of Monroe County and the Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse, the 2022 Harborfest features entertainment, professional sand sculpting demonstrations, a huge car show and a boat parade of lights, a volleyball tournament, children’s area, food vendors, tours of the historic lighthouse, free rides on the 116-year-old Dentzel Carousel, and more. cityofrochester.gov

Rochester Deaf Festival
Saturday, June 18
The free, day-long family event features vendors and exhibitors, children’s programs, food trucks, and educational opportunities. It takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Genesee Valley Park, 1000 East River Road. rochesterdeaffestival.wordpress.com

Holly Cole'S band makes an entrance at Harro East Ballroom during the Rochester International Jazz Festival, pre-pandemic, in 2015. - PHOTO BY FRED SANFILIPO
  • PHOTO BY FRED SANFILIPO
  • Holly Cole'S band makes an entrance at Harro East Ballroom during the Rochester International Jazz Festival, pre-pandemic, in 2015.
CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival
Friday, June 17 through Saturday, June 25
The city almost lost this fest to the ‘burbs, but Rochester’s biggest music festival returns to downtown after all, and Gibbs Street will once more be transformed into Jazz Street in mid June. Among this year’s headliners are Spyro Gyra (June 20), Robin Thicke (June 21), former drummer for Prince, Sheila E. (June 21), The Bacon Brothers (yep, with actor Kevin Bacon, June 24), G Love and Special Sauce (June 25), and Wynonna Judd (June 25). But with hundreds of acts, there’s something for everyone. rochesterjazz.com

Sterling Renaissance Festival
Saturday and Sundays, July 2 through August 14
If you thought the pandemic’s “missing years” had you in a time warp, just wait. The village world of the Sterling Renaissance Festival is set in 1585 (though you’ll find your mobile device magically still works). This recreation of Renaissance culture includes themed weekends, artisan demos, jousting, giant turkey legs and tankards of beer, tea with Queen Elizabeth I, and more. Costumes encouraged! Have fun with it at 15385 Farden Road in Sterling. sterlingfestival.com

Finger Lakes Wine Festival
Thursday, July 7 through Sunday, July 10
Featuring more than 80 wineries, along with regional artisans, music, classes, a grand prix race, and more, this is a celebration of the fruit of the vine that you can camp out at, if you so choose. The wine weekend is happening at Watkins Glen International Speedway, 2790 County Route 16). flwinefest.com

Corn Hill Arts Festival
Saturday, July 9 and Sunday, July 10
It’s never too early to start your holiday shopping. This massive artist showcase draws hundreds of artists from across the country who gather on nine historical Corn Hill neighborhood streets for a weekend of art, music performances, food, a 5K race, and more. cornhillartsfestival.com

Rochester Jewish Film Festival
Sunday, July 10 through Sunday, July 17
The Rochester International Jewish Film Festival screens quality contemporary films telling the stories of Jewish people from around the world, and hosts related events such as talkbacks with filmmakers and social events. Stay tuned for schedule information. rjff.org

Marchers reveling at the 2017 ROC Pride Parade. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • Marchers reveling at the 2017 ROC Pride Parade.
ROC Pride Week
Sunday, July 10 through Saturday, July 16
Rochester Pride really hasn’t been itself since its former organizers, the Out Alliance, went dormant a few years ago. Now the festival has been taken over by the community-based coalition ROC Pride Collective, which plans to restore the festival to its former glory that includes the parade, picnic, festival, an ImageOut film screening, and dance parties. trilliumhealth.org/patient-and-community-services/pride-2022

Canandaigua Art and Music Festival
Friday, July 15 through Sunday, July 17
Now in its third decade, the celebration includes a showcase of more than 150 juried artists in every medium, music, children’s activities, and food. The celebration takes place at and around 115 South Main St. in Canandaigua. canandaiguaartfestival.com

ChamberFest Canandaigua
Friday, July 15 through Sunday, July 24
Classical chamber music is the focus for a week of concerts and education about this beloved form of music. chamberfestcanandaigua.com

Rochester Burger Week
Thursday, July 21
This year’s ‘week’ is actually crammed into one day, so prepare your appetites. The CITY event features a party in the parking lot of The Little Theatre with food trucks and yard games, followed by a screening of “Good Burger.” Stay tuned for updates at rocburgerweek.com.

Macedonian Festival
Friday, July 22 through Sunday, July 24
Held at St. Dimitria Macedonian Orthodox Church, this annual celebration of Macedonian culture and heritage features music, dancing, and more. Check back with the festival site for the entertainment lineup, but expect uplifting music and dancing to help work off the Mediterranean fare and pastries. The spot: 235 Telephone Road in West Henrietta. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. macedonianfest.com

Arts at the Gardens
Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24
Work from more than 100 artists fills the Sonnenberg Mansion and gardens, plus a wine and beer garden, live music, and food. Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park is located at 151 Charlotte St. in Canandaigua. Arts at the Gardens runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. sonnenberg.org/aatg/arts-at-the-gardens

Shelley Morningsong (Northern Cheyenne) and Fabian Fontenelle (Zuni/Omaha) are headliners for this year's Indigenous Music & Arts Festival at Ganondagan.
  • Shelley Morningsong (Northern Cheyenne) and Fabian Fontenelle (Zuni/Omaha) are headliners for this year's Indigenous Music & Arts Festival at Ganondagan.
Indigenous Music & Arts Festival
Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24
The annual celebration of traditional and contemporary Indigenous culture is back on at Ganondagan State Historic Site. This year’s headliners include Shelley Morningsong (Northern Cheyenne) and Fabian Fontenelle (Zuni/Omaha), and father-son blues duo Twice As Good. The festival also includes full-regalia performances by Bill Crouse (Seneca) and the Allegany River Dancers, traditional storytellers, a Native American Arts Market, Indigenous food, arts demos, and a family discovery tent. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. ganondagan.org

WALL\THERAPY
Saturday, July 23 through Sunday, July 31
It’s the 10th anniversary of Rochester’s world-class mural festival, which has brought together local, national, and international street artists and muralists to paint the town. The official lineup of artists and related programming won’t be revealed until later, so watch wall-therapy.com for details.

Canandaigua Lakefront Art Show
Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31
This celebration takes place right along the lake at Kershaw Park on Lakeshore Drive in Canandaigua. A trio of fine art, music, and food near the sparkling water makes for the perfect weekend. Admission is free. lakefrontartshow.com

Spencerport Canal Days
Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31
In addition to browsing the arts and crafts vendors, noshing on festival food and washing it down with wine, and taking in entertainment, you can try an elegant carriage ride along Spencerport's scenic streets, participate in the canaligator race (like rubber duckies, but, ya know, alligators), and check out the classic car show. Fee admission. spencerportcanaldays.com

Waterfront Art Festival
Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28
Webster's North Ponds Park will host the 49th annual waterfront party (which moved in recent years after more than four decades in Canandaigua). It features hundreds of artists, live music, beer, wine, and cider. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days. waterfrontartfestival.com

Skaneateles Festival
Thursday, July 28 through Saturday, Aug. 30
With a tagline of “World Class Musicians by the Lake,” you know you’re in for some serious entertainment at this celebration of chamber music both classic and new. Running Thursdays through Saturdays for a month, this year’s schedule includes string quartets, folk flavors, tributes to Mozart and Shoshtakovich, and exploration of film scores by John Williams, Philip Glass, and Leonard Bernstein, and a vocal performance commemorating the bicentennial of Harriet Tubman’s birth. skanfest.org

Lima Crossroads Blues Festival
Thursday, Aug. 4 through Sunday, Aug. 7
Just a short jaunt over to Livingston County yields a blues festival that’s worth the trip. This year’s lineup has yet to be announced, but expect both regional and national acts, family events and activities for kids, a BBQ cookoff, and more. limafest.org

Among the dishes at the Polish Arts Festival is the sweet, flaky dessert dish Chrusciki. - PHOTO PROVIDED
  • PHOTO PROVIDED
  • Among the dishes at the Polish Arts Festival is the sweet, flaky dessert dish Chrusciki.
St. Stanislaus Polish Arts Festival
Friday, Aug. 5 through Saturday, Aug. 6
Organizers say there will be a sit-down dinner Friday night (or drive-through dinner if the county shuts down gatherings), and that live music and outdoor activities are planned for Saturday. Everything is contingent upon virus positivity rates and county health mandates. St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, 1150 Hudson Ave. polishartsfest.org

Pan Afrikan Festival
Saturday, Aug. 6
Formerly called the Afrikan American Festival, this one-day event presented by Rochester A.B.O.V.E. celebrates the various cultures of the African diaspora through entertainment and education. In addition to live music acts there will be a literature tent, a space for health screenings, vendors, food, a children’s play area. For updates watch panaffestival.org.

Pageant of Steam
Wednesday, Aug. 10 through Saturday, Aug. 13
Now in its 62nd year, this showcase of antique steam-powered vehicles also features tractor pulls, sawmill demonstrations, a chainsaw carvings auction, live music, food, and a gigantic flea market that is worth the trip even if you don’t care about the cool old machines. The Pageant of Steam runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day, at 3349 Gehan Road in Canandaigua. nysteamengineassociation.com/pageant-of-steam

Avon Rotary Corn Festival
Saturday, Aug. 13
High on the list of favorite summer foods is a steaming ear of corn that’s just dripping with butter (or whatever fixin’s you favor). Even if you don’t partake in the featured corn-eating contest, you can enjoy the arts and crafts, live entertainment, and games. Free of charge, the festival is located on Genesee Street in the Village of Avon. avonrotary.org

Brockport Arts Festival
Saturday, Aug. 13 and Sunday, Aug. 14
Main Street in Brockport will be filled with artist vendors selling their wares, live music, a duck race on the canal, food — including a wine garden and farmers' market — and a vintage car cruise-in. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, and admission is free. brockportartsfestival.com

The Rochester Ukrainian Festival will take place in August and spotlight cultural traditions of Ukraine. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • The Rochester Ukrainian Festival will take place in August and spotlight cultural traditions of Ukraine.
Rochester Ukrainian Festival
Thursday, Aug. 18 through Sunday, Aug.21
St. Josaphat's Ukrainian Catholic Church, 940 Ridge Road East, hosts a free celebration of traditional Ukrainian arts, food, and culture with Ukrainian folk dancers and musicians, a church tour, and more. rochesterukrainianfestival.com

Flower City Brewers Fest
Friday, Aug. 19
Hosted at the Rochester Public Market, 280 North Union St., the brew fest brings together top-notch beers from New York breweries, food, and music. Cheers! flourcitybrewersfest.com

Rochester Summer Soul Music Festival
Friday, Aug. 26 and Saturday, Aug.27
Lovers of soul music will want to head to Frontier Field for the return of the Rochester Summer Soul Music Festival. This year’s lineup is TBA, so check back with rocsummersoulfest.com

New York State Festival of Balloons
Friday, Sept. 2 through Sunday, Sept. 4
If you get the chance to go up in a hot air balloon, take it. The eerie stillness of the basket as the balloon glides with air currents may come as a surprise, but the views are predictably breathtaking. If you’re not a heights person, don't worry — the sight from the ground of the balloons against the landscape is pretty great as well. The event includes six scheduled balloon launches, an international food court, arts and crafts vendors, kids’ rides, and more. nysfob.com

Turtle Hill Folk Festival
Friday, Sept. 9 through Sunday, Sept. 11
Folkies rejoice! This annual celebration of traditional and contemporary tunes is back, featuring evening concerts on Friday and Saturday. Attendees can also interact with the performers during workshops and small presentations during the day on Saturday and Sunday, with many informal opportunities to sing and play music together. Located at the Rotary Sunshine Campus, 809 Five Points Road, Rush. Organizers are finalizing contracts with performers, so check back for the lineup at goldenlink.org.

Clothesline Arts Festival
Saturday, Sept. 10 and Sunday, Sept. 11
For more than 60 years, Clothesline has showcased fine artists and craftspeople with booths set up on the lawn of the Memorial Art Gallery. In addition to more than 400 artists from around the country, there will be music and dance performances, food, art-making activities, and more. mag.rochester.edu/events/clothesline-festival

One Fringe Place, at the corner of Main and Gibbs streets, after dark on Friday, Sept. 23, 2021. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • One Fringe Place, at the corner of Main and Gibbs streets, after dark on Friday, Sept. 23, 2021.
Rochester Fringe Festival
Wednesday, Sept. 13 through Saturday, Sept. 24
Though this is the 11th year of Rochester Fringe, the origins of Fringe date to 1947, in Edinburgh, Scotland, where eight cast-aside theater groups crashed the newly established Edinburgh International Festival, performing on "the fringe " of the festival. Today more than 200 cities worldwide celebrate a Fringe Festival, and Rochester’s Fringe has expanded from its original five days to 12 days of artistic performances and interactive events at multiple downtown venues. Stay tuned for the lineup of acts at rochesterfringe.com.

Festival of Food
Monday, Sept. 19
For $50 you get to spend an early fall evening tasting food and beverages prepared by area eateries set up throughout the Public Market, 280 North Union St. All proceeds benefit Foodlink. From 6 to 9 p.m. foodlinkny.org

Rebecca Rafferty is CITY's life editor. She can be reached at becca@rochester-citynews.com.