One of the most magical signs of spring is when cherry blossom trees come to life with stunning pink flowers. Cherry blossom season typically runs from late March to mid-April and is accompanied by a variety of fun festivities and events. While Japan and Washington D.C. are the most well-known destinations for viewing cherry blossoms, there are a number of cities around the world that celebrate these elegant blooms. Here are eight destinations with cherry blossom festivals you won’t want to miss.
Japan invented the cherry blossom festival and even has its own word for viewing these dazzling flowers—hanami. For centuries, it has been hosting hanami events throughout the country from late February to early April. Discover Tokyo’s best cherry blossom viewing spots on a one-day bus tour that includes Showa Kinen Park, home to over 1,500 cherry blossom trees, and Shinjuku Gyoen, a stunning garden created for Japan’s Imperial Family. Head north to experience the dazzling sight of bright pink flowers blooming below snowy Mt. Fuji. Experience strawberry picking and a scenic waterfall before traveling to either the Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival or the Matsuda Sakura Cherry Blossom Festival for an unforgettable trip.
Experience the U.S. capital during its most breathtaking season. From March 20 to April 13, the Washington D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival is centered around the gorgeous blooms that surround the city’s most famous sites. Donated by Japan as a gift of friendship and peace, the cherry blossom trees have graced the Tidal Basin and Potomac Waterfront for over 100 years. Enjoy a four-hour sightseeing tour bursting with spring color that includes the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and more. Also, there are many convenient tours that travel to Washington D.C. from New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Enjoy a luxury motorcoach that stops at Hershey’s Chocolate World or the Adventure Aquarium before spending an evening in this world-famous cherry blossom destination.
Brooklyn, New York
If you’re in New York this spring and can’t make the four-hour trip to Washington D.C., you won’t have to travel far to celebrate these special blooms. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden features numerous cherry blossom trees that begin to bloom in late March or early-April and last through around mid-May. The Garden is also home to the two-day Sakura Matsuri Festival in late April, featuring over 60 events including J-Pop concerts, colorful dance performances, magic shows, stand-up comics and more. While in Brooklyn, be sure to catch a Brooklyn Bridge Photo Tour, a chocolate tour, a pizza tour or a Brooklyn Hip Hop tour.
San Francisco, California
Centered in San Francisco’s iconic Japantown, the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival is based around traditional Japanese culture, featuring tea ceremonies, bonsai tree exhibitions, Taiko performances, and the Mikoshi Purification Ceremony. Celebrated on two weekends—April 13-14 and April 20-21—these events occur alongside the popular Kayo Parade. While in San Francisco, be sure to catch one of the city’s many informative and fun walking tours.
Vancouver is a booming city that has been growing in popularity over the years. It’s 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, the festival opens on April 4 and runs until April 27. 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.
Rather than devote a whole week to the blooming period, Stockholm celebrates Sakura Day in late April. But don’t think just because 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. While in Stockholm, be sure to check out the Old Town walking tour, take a sightseeing cruise of the archipelago or learn about the country’s Viking history with a special boat tour.
While Washington D.C. gets much of the limelight for cherry blossom season, Philadelphia is just two hours away and a top cherry-blossom-viewing destination in its own right. The city’s Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival runs mid-April and, like San Francisco, 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. While in Philadelphia, try a dinner cruise on the ocean or go on a fun scavenger hunt that takes you to the iconic Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.
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. Many multiday tours also stop in this European gem.
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