Rochester Lilac Festival

It is finally and truly spring here. Once spring comes so do the festival, one or two every weekend.

This past weekend Luke and I celebrated another semester of teaching over by going to the Rochester Lilac Festival.

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This is the largest Rochester city festival lasting two full weeks and weekends. It takes place at Highland Park with food tents, many concerts from various local bands, a home and garden show, children’s shows and more. During the week they also have a Lilac run, wine and chocolate and craft beer tasting events.

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Fortunately Luke and I had heard that MCC provides parking for 2$ and a round trip shuttle back and forth to the festival. We were happy to not have to struggle to find a parking spot or fight the crowd.

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Once we were dropped off at the festival sight we briefly walked around the most crowded area where the food vendors and concerts were. Crossing the street into the larger park area we enjoyed strolling through the lilac trees which are in full bloom with purple and pink flowers and a strong fragrance.

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We passed many acoustic musicians in the park and families taking pictures or resting under the trees and shade. We came down the hill from the lilac bushes to the annual pansy bed and found several food trucks.

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We decided to try a dish from Brick N Motor, a local seasonal menu food truck. We shared a small plate of bim bap: rice, korean beef,  and kimchi topped with carrots, thai basil, sesame seeds and a poached egg. It was delicious.

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After our rest we continued back up the hill toward the reservoir through the azaleas. Past the reservoir at the top of the park hill art vendors were selling their pottery, wood vases, lilac oils and candles, clothes, photography etc. alongside with a few other food vendors.

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Passing the conservatory we decided to make our way back down the hill and finish off our tour of the festival looking at larger food tents and vendors while listening to a little music.

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It was a warm day and crowded but it was a fun festival, with free entertainment and great food.

To find out more about the festival click: Lilac Festival

Christmas Concert: TSO

In case you didn’t know TSO stands for Trans Siberian Orchestra. And if you do not know this “band” I will try to explain a little about them. About 15 years ago they started writing/creating CD’s of rock operas with classical elements/themes such as Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky,and many more. The highlighted instruments are electric violins and guitars but the full orchestra includes a string section, many talented vocalists, drums, as well as two piano/synthesizer players. They are most known for their three Christmas albums packed full of rock based twists on classic carols along with many original songs.

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My family has been TSO fans for more than 10 years now. Back in 2010 Luke, who had a tradition of going to TSO every year, encouraged us to go with him. So one Saturday in December we all drove down to San Diego for a afternoon concert and dinner in old town. We knew that TSO was very talented but we were shocked by the performance, lasers, pyrotechnics, hydraulic moving stage parts, the works. It was an amazing show. The first half a narrator tells part of one of their opera/stories weaving all three of their christmas albums together. The second half they play a random selection of both Christmas songs and songs from their other CDs.

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The next two Christmas’ were way too busy and expensive to keep Luke’s tradition going. But this year we knew we could start it up again. So we drove down to Wilkes-Barre PA on Friday night. The drive was longer than the predicted 2.5 hours; plus the traffic off the freeway for the event was horrible. So we arrived 15 minutes late and apologized to those in our row as we shuffled into our seats. But in-spite of this, the show was as expected, amazing!

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They use a local strings section for each of their concerts and the drummer was from Horseheads NY, about 10 minutes from our home. Just as much as last time we enjoyed the great musicians and vocalists along with the moving stage pieces, flames, fireworks and so on. After a long fulfilling concert we left the arena and trudged off to the car in the falling snow.  After getting out of the parking lot we got a late night snack/dinner at Wendy’s then took a beautiful river route home in the snow. And no, none of these pictures are mine, unlike most of the fans there, I chose to not get my iphone out and take snapshot, instead I put it away and enjoyed the concert, just taking it all in.

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It was a long day with a large amount of driving, next year we may opt to set a limit on how far we are willing to drive but I can tell you it was still worth it. Hopefully TSO will come to Rochester/Buffalo next year so we can keep this new/old tradition.

How about you? Any Christmas concerts/performances to go to?