Earlier this week we discussed the Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival, possibly the most well known cherry blossom festival outside of Japan, and the things to do in D.C. for the budget traveler. We’ll admit it; we spoiled Washington, D.C. a bit by giving it the limelight. However, we’re all about spreading the love, and thought we’d share all the great spots around the world to view the blossoms bloom this spring.
Let’s get this out of the way: Japan invented the cherry blossom festival, has been hosting them for centuries, and even has its own word for viewing cherry blossoms – Hanami. From the numerous parks in Tokyo to as far north as Hokkaido, there are plenty of viewings and festivals to choose from . If you are traveling to Japan, check out this great guide on cherry blossom season and the regions to visit.
So excluding Japan and D.C., what are the lesser known destinations to enjoy the cherry blossom bloom?
Brooklyn, New York
No one wants to do the 4 hour trip from New York to DC, especially when New York already stands as a great cultural capital on its own. So skip the drive, and head over to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, which hosts a nifty little map that shows when the blossoms will bloom (hint: they’re still sleeping).
But come April 28 – 29, the Sakura Masturi 2018 Festival will be in full swing with J-Pop concerts, colorful dance performances, magic shows, stand-up comics, and much, much more. Admission for each day is only $15, still way cheaper than current movie prices (plus you have popcorn, soda, candy…it just adds up).
Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Macon, Georgia? Well, you should, as it is the birthplace of The Allman Brothers Band (yes, Jacksonville get’s points for being the starting point, but it wasn’t until Macon that they debuted). Also, it hosts a mighty fine Cherry Blossom Festival from March 16 to March 25.
The first cherry blossoms spawned in the city with the help of garden enthusiast and realtor William A. Fickling Sr. whose garden inspired local residences to plant the trees throughout the city. From this humble community spirit Carolyn Crayton founded the Cherry Blossom Festival in 1982 “developed around the basic principles of ‘love, beauty, and international friendship.'” Today, this event is hosted in Central City Park with carnival rides, concerts, a pink pancake breakfast, late night dances, and the XPOGO Extreme Pogo Show.
San Francisco, California
This year the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival will be celebrating its 51th Anniversary and will be split between two weekends: April 14-22. Centered in Japantown, the event is based around traditional Japanese culture, featuring tea ceremonies, bonsai tree exhibitions, Taiko performances, and the Mikoshi Purification Ceremony. These event occur alongside the popular Kayo Parade, which hosts performances as local as the Bay Area to guests from Japan.
Vancouver is a booming city that has been growing in popularity over the years and its no wonder that this colorful, green city would feature a lively Cherry Blossom Festival, drawing from the beauty of the 40,000 trees donated to the city by Japan. Winner of the Garden Tourism Award for 2015, the festival opens on April 3 and runs until April 29 for its 11th anniversary. While the festival is still young compared to other such events, the enthusiasm is extremely strong, to the point where they’ve created a Google Map displaying all the best viewing spots alongside the expected blooming dates.
Just some of the events included during the festival are Sakura Night Gala on April 22 which will celebrate Vancouver’s top local restaurants, petal picnics, the Sakura Illumination, the Bike The Blossoms Route, and the Sakura Days Japan Fair from April 14-15.
As ancient as the middle ages, the Kungstradgarden – or King’s Garden, if your Swedish is a little rusty – in Stockholm is also home to dozens of cherry blossoms trees that create a colorful display for visitors to this historic site each April. Walking through the garden makes one feel like they’re completely surrounded by pink blossoms. Don’t believe me? Check out 360 Degree Cities Kungstradgarden Display to see for yourself.
Rather than devote a whole week to the blooming period, Stockholm has set April 16th, 2017 as Sakura Day. But don’t think just cause it’s a one day event that its lacking; the Kungstradgarden completely transforms for the day with food stalls, bonsai exhibits, kimono rentals, calligraphy displays, and much more. The big focus, unlike other festivals, is the cherry blossom viewing itself. Instead of concerts or dances, the cherry blossoms take center stage for visitors to wander beneath them and enjoy the natural, colorful display, free of distractions.
Editorial Credit: Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival
Philadelphia is known for two things: where Fresh Prince was born and raised, and where the Constitution was born and raised (and Declaration of Independence, so, 3 things?) Well, add a third (fourth?) thing to your lexicon of knowledge about Philadelphia: the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival!
The main festival runs from April 7-15 for the 21th anniversary. Many of the main events will return, including Japanese Culture Week, The Cherry Blossom 10K/5K, and Saukra Under the Stars. Still no announcement if we’re getting March Japanness back this year.
As for the festival itself, like San Francisco, Philadelphia digs deep into Japanese culture to bring daily cultural workshops, classes, and contests from classic storytelling to sushi making. The weekends are the highlight of the festival though, with Sakura Sunday hosting martial arts performances, dances, concerts, karaoke, and a ton of food.
Located near Dusseldorf and Cologne, this small German city has lined Heerstrasse – aka Cherry Blossom Avenue – with gorgeous trees that bloom in mid-April for roughly 2-3 weeks. A great spot to rest in while backpacking through Germany, Bonn is probably one of the best places to casually stroll down the street under a sky of pink.