Mackinac Island, Michigan, is known for many things - most notably that it can be reached by ferry only and no cars are allowed on the island. The Victorian architecture, clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages and blue waters of Lake Huron are idyllic, which is why the island was the perfect setting for the romantic film “Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. Mackinac Island is 4.4 square miles, 80 percent state park, and sits between Michigan’s Lower and Upper Peninsulas. It's been ranked one of the “World’s Twenty Most Beautiful Islands” by Conde Nast Traveler and honored by National Geographic as "one of the ten finest tourist destinations in America." A rare place, indeed, that seems lost in time and provides a much slower pace in an ever-changing world. Anytime is a good time to visit Mackinac Island, but…in June…ah, in June the island blooms with the sight and scent of hundreds of different varieties of lilacs.
One of the most loved events on Mackinac Island is the annual Lilac Festival, held each June since 1949. In 2011, the festival runs June 10-19. Jesuit missionaries originally brought the lilacs to the island and the National Lilac Society considers Mackinac Island’s lilacs to be the oldest in the United States. Events during the festival include live music, parades, the crowning of the Lilac Queen at the coronation ball, Picnic in the Park at Surrey Hill, Tall Ship Wine Tasting and Cruise Around Haldimand Bay and the Grand Hotel Garden Tour. At the Taste of Mackinac, local chefs whip up their culinary specialties. You may even find a lilac blossom in your dish, as the blooms are edible (as long as they’re free of pesticides) and have a lemony, slightly bitter taste.
What else would one expect to find on an island that is so steeped in the beauty and traditions of yesteryear? Afternoon tea, of course! Every day from 3:30-5:00, tea is served in the parlor of the Grand Hotel, just as it has for over 100 years. Visitors enjoy tea, sherry, or champagne, freshly baked scones, and petite finger sandwiches, while listening to the soft strains of chamber music. It’s said that the sweet fragrance of lilacs enhances the taste, especially when paired with white teas. For more information on Mackinac Island’s Lilac Festival: