Spokane has been known as the “Lilac City” since 1896. Lilacs weren’t always here—the local legend has it that the first lilac plant arrived in 1882 in a trunk that traveled from Minnesota—but they have become a gorgeous symbol of the city, blooming all over in May of every year. The first Lilac Festival was held in 1938 as a mere flower show. Later, the Festival grew to have a parade, a queen, and a tea and card party.
Today, the parade is the largest armed forces torchlight parade in the nation, and around 160,000 people come out to watch school dance teams, bands, members of our armed forces, Lilac Festival Royalty, and creative floats all lit by torchlight and colored lights. The Spokane Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade is May 16 and starts at 7:45 p.m. in downtown Spokane. Come early for the Cruzin’ the Falls Car Show and Cruise. The show cars will cruise the parade route at 6:00 p.m.
This year’s festival also features a golf tournament on May 9 at the Coeur d’Alene Resort’s five-star course , a shoebox float competition for 3rd–6th graders (check out their floats on display in Riverpark Square May 9–17), and the All City Civic Military Luncheon at the Davenport Hotel. Click here for the full schedule.
If you are coming down for the parade with your family and want to make a day of it, Riverfront Park’s attractions will be open, including the SkyRide over the Falls and the Looff Carousel.