Each month offers unique seasonal experiences. This section features a comprehensive guide to the most popular activities and events and recommendations for top things to do throughout the year.
Begin the new year with a guided First Day Hike, offered at Letchworth, Taughannock, and Hamlin State Parks, plus various local options. For those dreary days, visit one of the local libraries, museums, or theaters for indoor fun. You can warm up in Lamberton Conservatory’s tropical environment and The Strong Museum of Play’s Butterfly Garden. If the weather is pleasant, bundle up and enjoy the outdoors. In the winter and early spring, bring some black oil sunflower seeds to feed the birds at Mendon Ponds Park, or purchase some from the nature center. Along the Birdsong Fairy Trail, chickadees, nuthatches, and tufted titmice will eat the seeds from your hand.
When temperatures have been below freezing for several days, drive to Letchworth to see the ice volcano at Glen Iris Inn and the frost-covered trees near Middle Falls. Or visit the Webster Park and Ontario Beach Park piers on Lake Ontario to look for ice sculptures created by wind-whipped waves. If it’s been freezing for over a week, consider visiting Niagara Falls for a rare chance to see them nearly frozen. Head to Mendon Ponds, Black Creek, Ellison, or Cobb’s Hill Parks to find excellent sledding hills.
Featured February Events
Dutch Connection. Experience the beauty and fragrance of the mansion’s numerous tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and other flowering bulbs. This colorful display is a welcome contrast to the monotony of winter. George Eastman Museum, 900 East Avenue, eastman.org
Polar Plunge. The Rochester Polar Plunge is a thrilling event to witness if you’re not participating. The party-like atmosphere is a great way to shake off winter’s blues. What’s the reason for freezin’? Funds raised from the plunge support the Special Olympics New York’s programs and services. 50 Beach Avenue, polarplunge.net
City of Rochester
We mark spring’s arrival in Rochester by tapping maple trees for syrup. From late February to early April, Canada and snow geese migrate through New York, with the peak of their migration occurring between the last two weeks of March and the first two weeks of April. Braddock’s Bay, Montezuma Wildlife Refuge, and Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge are the best places to witness this spectacle.
Featured March Events
New York State Maple Weekends. Maple Weekends take place every year during the last two weekends of March. It’s an ideal time to visit a maple farm or nature center to enjoy fresh, locally produced maple syrup. Many farms offer unique flavors, such as coffee and bourbon-barrel-aged syrups, and some even offer a pancake breakfast. It’s a great way to discover the diverse range of maple syrups available. mapleweekend.nysmaple.com
St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Rochester’s annual parade brings tens of thousands of people downtown. Starting at 12:30 p.m. at the intersection of East Avenue and Alexander Street, the parade proceeds down East Avenue, turning left onto Main Street and crossing the Genesee River before ending near State Street. East Avenue is lined with bars, while the area near Rochester Riverside Convention Center tends to be more family-friendly. rochesterparade.com
During Maple Weekends, March 18-19 and 25-26, 2023, producers open their sugar shacks to honor the art and science of turning sap into syrup.
In April, when snowmelt combines with heavy rains, our waterways become powerful, awe-inspiring forces of nature. While these sights can be breathtaking, they can also be dangerous, with the potential for flash floods. As you observe water’s power in places like Letchworth’s Middle Falls, Rochester’s High and Lower Falls, Channing H. Philbrick Park, Honeoye Falls, Taughannock Falls State Park, Shequaga Falls, or Niagara Falls, be cautious and mindful of your surroundings.
Featured April Event
Imagine RIT: Creativity and Innovation Festival. Spend the day exploring the many interactive student projects and exhibits on campus. This event suits people of all ages and is a great way to learn about and interact with new technologies. If you have kids thinking about college, this is an excellent opportunity to experience classrooms, labs, lecture halls, eateries, auditoriums, stadiums, and galleries. 1 Lomb Memorial Drive, Henrietta, rit.edu
City of Rochester
Gateway Music Festival bi-annual
Dyngus Day Buffalo
As spring arrives, we look forward to the reopening of favorite places and businesses that have been closed or had limited hours and services during the long winter. Most parks in Monroe County are open year-round, but some amenities may be limited, and some roads and trails may be closed. All Monroe County Parks are fully open from May 1 to October 31. Gorge trails like Watkins Glen and Letchworth’s Lower Falls remain closed until mid-May when repairs are complete. The Erie Canal opens for public use in mid-May, with Sam Patch Erie Canal Tours holding its inaugural run on Mother’s Day.
Featured May Event
Rochester Lilac Festival. Lilac Fest is a 10-day event that features free concerts, art shows, tastings, footraces, and parades. The lilacs in Highland Park usually bloom by mid-May, but the exact timing varies depending on the weather. 1440 South Avenue, rochesterevents.com
City of Rochester
Flower City Days at the Market Sundays mid-May and early-June
Glass Fest Corning
Most 2023 Rochester Lilac Fest performances begin in the early-evening leaving your days free to explore in and around Highland Park.
Many of the recurring summer events begin in June, such as Food Truck Rodeos, Party in the Park, Zoo Brew, and Concerts by the Shore. Most towns and villages host weekly concerts as well. Strawberry picking is available during the last three weeks of the month. Mid-June is when waterparks, public pools, and beaches open for the summer.
Featured June Events
Fairport Canal Days. As one of the most significant festivals along the Erie Canal, the two-day event draws tens of thousands of visitors to the village. Main Street, Fairport, fairportcanaldays.com
National Warplane Museum Airshow. Spanning two days, this event showcases planes from their collection alongside guest aircraft. The F22 Raptor and other modern fighter jets cannot take off and land on a turf airstrip, so they must fly in from Rochester International Airport. Visitors can walk around the grounds to view World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam era planes, including the C-47 Whiskey 7, commissioned to transport paratroopers to Normandy on D-Day. Admission fee. 3489 Big Tree Lane, Geneseo, Livingston County, nationalwarplanemuseum.com
Rochester International Jazz Festival. Spend hours enjoying exceptional music during this jazz festival that offers many free performances. The nine-day event attracts musicians and attendees from all over the world to Rochester. rochesterjazz.com
City of Rochester
Most 2023 CGI Rochester International Jazz Fest performances begin in the early-evening leaving your days free to explore the Rochester area.
Firefighters’ carnivals are typical for many towns. All Greater Rochester counties (except Monroe) host county fairs from July to August for local champions to compete at the State Fair in late August. Try picking raspberries, cherries, and lavender this month and visiting farmers’ markets for locally grown products.
Featured July Events
Corn Hill Arts Festival. Avery Mall (Park) is the official shuttle stop for the popular weekend-long art and music festival held in Corn Hill, Rochester’s oldest residential neighborhood. Avery Mall, 281 S. Plymouth Avenue, cornhillartsfestival.com
Ganondagan Indigenous Music and Arts Festival. Ganondagan invites visitors to experience Haudenosaunee culture through food, music, dance, and craft vendors during the last weekend of July. The festival features national and international artists, and the longhouse and Seneca Arts & Culture Center are open, including the museum, theater, and gift shop. Admission fee. 7000 County Road 41, Victor, Ontario County, ganondagan.org
Sterling Renaissance Festival. Open weekends from early July to mid-August, this renaissance festival is one of the best medieval cosplay events in New York. Taking part in the event is half the fun, whether you make a floral headpiece, rent a dress, or wear a full suit of armor. Purchase tickets online and download the schedule of events in advance to help plan your day. With nearly 100 performances on 12 stages across 35 acres, there are a few shows you won’t want to miss, such as the highly energetic jousting tournament, which takes place twice a day at noon and 5:45 p.m. Make sure to arrive at Ye Field of Honor early to secure a shaded spot to stand. The food and drink lines can be long, so bring a cooler for a picnic in the parking lot—be sure to have your hand stamped to re-enter the fair. 15385 Farden Road, Sterling, Cayuga County, sterlingfestival.com
City of Rochester
Art in the Gardens Canandaigua
Finger Lakes Wine Festival Watkins Glen
Genesee County Fair Batavia
Ontario County Fair Canandaigua
Orleans County Fair Albion
Seneca County Fair Waterloo
Yates County Fair Penn Yan
Old Home Days Williamsville
Exploring local markets and roadside produce stand are a great way to immerse yourself in the community and support family farms.
Experience the rich cultural heritage of Rochester at festivals like the Puerto Rican Festival, Saint Stanislaus Polish Arts Festival, and Ukrainian Arts and Craft Festival. Sample delicious cuisine and listen to vibrant music as you immerse yourself in the city’s diverse food and music scene. Then, enjoy a late-summer harvest of blueberries and sunflowers.
Featured August Events
Fairport Music Festival. Enjoy two days of music on three outdoor stages along Liftbridge Lane East, as well as performances in bars and restaurants around Fairport. 5 Liftbridge Lane E., Fairport, fairportmusicfestival.com
The Great New York State Fair. The New York State Fair, established in 1841 and moved to its current location in Syracuse in 1890, is the oldest in the United States. It is also one of the largest, with around one million visitors yearly, and some days attracting over 100,000 people. The fair runs annually, starting on the third or fourth Wednesday of August and ending on Labor Day. 581 State Fair Boulevard, Syracuse, Onondaga County, nysfairgrounds.ny.gov
City of Rochester
Pageant of Steam Canandaigua
Wayne County Fair Palmyra
Wyoming County Fair Pike
This month, visit a few of our favorite apple farms, like Schutt’s, Kelly’s, Robb, Green Acre, and Zarpentine, to see who has the best cider, fry cakes, fritters, and slushies. Stokoe Farms and Wickham Farms will kick off their harvest festivals in mid-September with hayrides, pumpkin picking, agriculture-themed activities, and entertainment.
Featured September Events
Clothesline Festival. The Memorial Art Gallery hosts this renowned two-day arts festival, and the gate fee includes museum admission. 500 University Avenue, mag.rochester.edu
Naples Grape Festival. Set in the charming village of Naples, the two-day Naples Grape Festival celebrates local music, art, and food. The festival’s wine-tasting tent is a popular destination, featuring the finest regional wines, craft brewers, and distilleries. The World’s Greatest Grape Pie Contest is a must-see event. Unique to the Finger Lakes region, grape pies were created in the 1950s by Naples resident Irene Bouchard. Getting to the Naples Grape Festival can be hectic, as there is only one main thoroughfare in and out of the village. Plan to arrive before 11 a.m. to avoid heavy traffic. Parking is available at Hazlitt Red Cat Cellars, with a free shuttle bus to take attendees directly to the festival grounds at the Memorial Town Hall and Naples High School. 154 N. Main Street, Naples, Ontario County, naplesgrapefest.org
Rochester Fringe Festival. This 12-day festival offers a wide range of entertaining performances. The Fringe team produces half the events, while each venue selects the other half. Centered in Rochester’s East End, the festival includes popular attractions such as the Spiegelgarden, Spiegeltent, Pedestrian Drive-In, and major weekend events. There’s a mix of free and ticketed shows offered across multiple venues. rochesterfringe.com
City of Rochester
Barktober Fest Walk for the Animals Fairport
Purple Foot Festival Fairport
Tinker Park’s Honey Harvest Festival Henrietta
Appleumpkin Festival Wyoming
Livingston County Harvest Bounty Fair Caledonia
CNY Tomato Fest Auburn
Niagara Celtic Olcott
Niagara County Peach Festival Lewiston
Come mid-September, we begin to crave all things apple. Apple cider. Apple cider donuts. Apple fritters. Apple pie. And warm fry cakes.
To experience the most breathtaking fall foliage, plan your leaf-peeping excursions during the middle to end of October and the beginning of November. The arboretums at Mount Hope Cemetery, Durand Eastman Park, and Highland Park offer a stunning array of colors. You can also head to local farms and farmers’ markets to pick the perfect Halloween pumpkin.
Featured October Event
ROC the Riverway Weekend. The city sponsors various activities, including guided hikes, bike rides, and paddles, as well as events focused on the Genesee River. While some activities may require a fee, most are free to attend. ROC the Riverway Weekend, which takes place on the first weekend of October, celebrates the river and life along its banks. Various locations, view event details
City of Rochester
Genesee Valley Hunt Races Geneseo
Locktober Fest Lockport
There is something about October that piques our interest in paranormal activities. Explore the other side of Rochester!
The first few weeks of November are perfect for enjoying fall walks in the woods. The changing leaves provide a stunning display of colors, and the crisp air is refreshing and invigorating. As November progresses, the holiday season quickly approaches, bringing beautifully decorated homes and sparkling light displays.
Featured November Events
Dickens Christmas. The World’s Smallest Parade kicks off this month-long weekend festival on Bright Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). The festival continues every Saturday and Sunday, leading up to Christmas. Charles Dickens and other characters can be seen roaming the streets, shops, and restaurants, greeting guests, and spreading holiday cheer. Enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides around the village, caroling and plays at the gazebo, and chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Multiple venues, Skaneateles, Onondaga County, (315) 685-0552, skaneateles.com
Holidays at the George Eastman Museum. GEM is a gorgeous place to experience the joy of the holiday season. Besides the delightful Sweet Creations gingerbread houses, wreaths, and tabletop Christmas tree displays, Dryden Theatre offers a wide selection of festive films. Admission fee. 900 East Avenue, (585) 327-4800, eastman.org
Lights on the Lake. The drive-through holiday light show at Onondaga Lake Park features a two-mile route lined with towering displays, a fantasy forest, vibrant arches, and a magical fairy tale ending. Admission fee. 106 Lake Drive, Liverpool, Onondaga County, (315) 451-7275, lightsonthelake.com
City of Rochester
Granger Homestead Festival of Trees Canandaigua
Holiday Valley’s Fall Beer & Wine Festival Ellicottville
Giving the gift of shared Rochester experiences offers rewards that go well beyond mere personal joy—where less is genuinely more.
The holiday spirit comes alive through the stories, traditions, and experiences this season offers. Rochester has a deep-seated nostalgia for Christmastime downtown, centered on yuletide festivities, shopping, refreshments, and entertainment. Traditional holiday performances include the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s Gala Holiday Pops, Rochester Broadway Theatre League’s The Nutcracker, Geva’s A Christmas Carol, and OFC Creations’ A Golden Girls Christmas Carol. The Little Theatre and Dryden Theatre show Christmas movies, and there are concerts at various performance halls and houses of worship. Because December is the darkest month, we welcome grand displays of Christmas lights to brighten the night. Communities like Rahway Road in Gates, Endicar Drive in Irondequoit, Buckskin Drive in Farmington, and extreme homes like 16 Beauclaire Lane in Perinton celebrate the season with grandeur. Pack the car with snacks and hot cocoa, and sing along to Christmas carols as you drive around the area. It’s a magical time of year, full of joy and celebration.
Featured December Events
Holiday Show at Lamberton Conservatory. Enjoy evening hours on Friday and Sunday nights until 9 p.m. to appreciate the holiday lights after dark. The show begins on the first Friday in December and continues through the second weekend in January. Note that Saturday evenings are reserved for weddings. Admission fee. 180 Reservoir Avenue, (585) 753-7270, learn more
Holidays at the Genesee Country Village. Experience the joys of past Christmases on a guided tour of the village. Meet families as they plan traditional meals, share stories, and prepare for the long winter. Take part in various December events, such as candlelit Yuletide in the Country Tours, Breakfast with Saint Nick, and the Holiday Open House. Admission fee. 1410 Flint Hill Road, Mumford, (585) 538-6822, gcv.org
Holidays at the Rochester Public Market. This delightful tradition showcases vendors offering fresh trees, wreaths, decorations, specialty foods and drinks, handcrafted items, and more. You can enjoy music, carriage rides, and even see Santa on select Sundays. 280 N. Union Street, (585) 428-6907, cityofrochester.gov
Roc Holiday Village. On the first Saturday of December, the festivities kick off with the Main Street Liberty Pole lighting and a Santa-led procession to Roc Holiday Village. In the heart of downtown, the charming village offers a range of free holiday-themed activities and community events, including ice skating, live music, and a visit with Santa Claus. Visitors can also shop and dine in the village. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Park, 353 Court Street, rocholidayvillage.com
Holiday Train Rides and Displays
Arcade and Attica Railroad. Hop on the Wonderland Express and travel to the North Pole to spend some quality time with Santa and his elves. Admission fee. 278 Main Street, Arcade, Wyoming County, (585) 492-3100, aarailroad.com
Edgerton Model Railroad. In December, the Edgerton Model Railroad is open for additional hours and offers free tours of its four season-themed model train layouts. 41 Backus Street, (585) 428-6769, edgertonmodelrailroadclub.com
The Garden Factory. Check out the magnificent model train display on weekends through mid-December and every day during the school break. 2126 Buffalo Road, Gates, (585) 247-6236, gardenfactoryny.com
Medina Railroad Museum. Experience the magic of The Polar Express™ as you journey to pick up Santa. Admission fee. 530 West Avenue, Medina, Orleans County, (585) 798-6106, medinarailroadmuseum.org
New York Museum of Transportation. Start your day with a ride on the Holly Trolley and a visit with Santa. Then, explore the museum to find the two Midtown Plaza monorail cars on display. Admission fee. 6393 E. River Road, Rush, (585) 533-1113, nymtmuseum.org
City of Rochester
Festival of Lights Clifton Springs
It WAS a Wonderful Life Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo
Enjoy our four favorite extreme Christmas lights, plus 100+ more extraordinary Rochester-area homes and holiday-themed events.
Bands on the Bricks
Friday nights roughly early-July to early-August
Concerts by the Shore
Wednesday nights, June through August
Flower City Days at the Market
Sundays mid-May and early-June
Food Truck Rodeo
Last Wednesday night of the month, April through September
Market Days at the International Plaza
Mid-May through mid-October
Party in the Park
Thursday nights running roughly early-June to early-August
Fridays nights, once a month May through September, with special events throughout the year
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