The amazing tree called cherry originate in the Himalayas and then they are introduced in Japan were they became a symbol of the Empire of the Sun and of its traditions and culture. The Japanese call it Sakura season in English is spring the season when the cherry tree bloom. In Japan there is a long and old cultural tradition around the cherry trees and their flower because they are identified as symbols of spring and rebirth after the cold winter. There are over 600 varieties of cherry trees grown today and strange but true the flowering cherry does not produce edible cherries as we know them: they produce a small sour fruit that birds go crazy for, it’s edibles also by human but it has a flavor very far from the cherries.
Sometimes nature surprises and the trees bloom earlier or later than expected. I listed some of the most famous festival located in North America, some of the festivals below have flexible dates so that visitors can see the cherry blossoms at their full bloom that grant you an all senses experience. The blossoms come in a variety of pinks and whites shades and give off a beautiful fragrance to your noses.
#01. NATIONAL CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL IN WASHINGTON D.C., USA
Washington D.C. is as famous for its cherry blossom festival as an American version of the Hanami in Japan, you can admire more than 3,000 sakura, received in 1912 as a gift from the mayor of Tokyo Ozaki, today they lined the Tidal Basin and the Washington Mall they also surround the Jefferson Memorial near the Basin and they cornered the landscape of the Washington Memorial. The city has celebrated the blossom every year since then at the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Taking place over six weeks between March and April, the festival includes a parade, live music and the visitors can enjoy the Blossom Kite Festival and a grandiose parade that takes place on the Constitution Avenue. Tune into Blossom Cam to see the trees as they change daily. This is one of thebiggest cherry blossom festivals in the country.
The cherry blossom trees currently grow in three National Park Service locations: around the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, in East Potomac Park (Hains Point), and on the Washington Monument grounds.
#02. BETHESDA, Maryland, USA
A great alternative to the crowded Tidal Basin is a short drive outside of city in the neighborhood area of Kenwood. Historical houses sit elegantly as a backdrop to mature cherry trees that create a solid canopy along the streets. For the lovers of the photography this grant a beautiful location to get some shots. The oldest cherry tree in the neighborhood is 90 years old.
#03. VIENNA, Virginia, USA
Another location just outside of Washington DC that can be paired with the Bethesda and the Washington D.C. blooming if you want to travel in the area and have enough time to spend there the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens have cherry trees surrounding the lake near the entrance to the park as well as walking paths that become solid pink when the petals fall. This can be a good diversion to the crowd in the city.
#03. BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA
Usually ignored Boston is a good choice to see some cherry tree if you are or liver in Massachusetts. You’ll find the highest concentration of cherry trees in the section of the Charles River Esplanade bordering Back Bay, roughly between the Fiedler Footbridge (off Arlington Street) and the Mass Ave access ramp.
#04. INTERNATIONAL CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL IN MACON, Georgia, USA
Obviously you didn’t expect that in this Georgia city they proudly present no less than 300,000 Yoshino cherry trees, so it’s definitely a must see destinations for those who’re searching for sakura. It all started when Mr. Fickling Sr. was walking around in his yard and noticed a tree growing that he couldn’t identify. He asked everyone he knew about the tree but no one could provide him any answers. Several years later he was in Washington D.C. on a business trip and spotted what he thought was the same green creature. After bringing home a branch cut he was able to confirm his suspicions. It was a Yoshino cherry tree! He then learned to propagate the Yoshinos and began giving them away. The Fickling family has since then gifted 6,500 trees that have been distributed by The Cherry Blossom Festival and Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission. The Cherry Blossom Trail takes you through the 12 historic districts of the city where you’ll see thousands of flowering trees. Festival take place on early March usually. The locals like to call this festival “the pinkest party on Earth”. Visitors can enjoy a street party as well as a fireworks show and to see the beautiful “balloon glow” a nighttime show that includes illuminated paper hot air-balloons like the ones used in Japan for the lanterns festival.
#05. NASHVILLE CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL, Tennessee, USA
Music City has a 4-mile loop lined with cherry trees that bring you through Sylvan Park and then back through the historic Richland-West End neighborhood. You will see the Yoshino trees bloom in early April and the Kwanzan trees bloom late April after the threat of frost is over. So prepare yourself to a beautiful symphony of flowers.
#06. ST. LOUIS, Missouri, USA
Be sure not to miss the weeping Higan cherry trees which display long sweeping branches covered in blush colored blossoms at the Missouri Botanical Garden. There are 40 of them as well as Yoshino, Twenty Centennial, and Sargent varieties of tree all throughout the park, particularly in the Japanese Garden. An admission ticket with a fee around 12$ is needed for adults, childs enter for free.
#07. SUBARU CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL OF GREATER PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, USA
The first year the trees were planted in Fairmount Park was 1926. Another 1,000 trees have being added to date. Over time, it has turned into the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia 9-day festival that includes a Silent Auction and a Japanese Culture Week, all of that taking place in April from 1 to 9. This festival truly celebrates Japanese culture including Japan’s traditional ohanami: parties underneath the blooming trees with entertainment, food, and drink. Festival has an admission ticket of 10$ for adult and it’s free entrance for children under 12 so it’s a great event for the families that desire to see the Fairmount Park and add some Japanese things to their culture.
#05. SAKURA MATSURI BROOKLYN FESTIVAL, New York, USA
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s annual cherry blossom festival is called Sakura Matsuri and in 2017 will be on its 36th edition. Taking place over the course of a weekend, the festival includes over 60 events and various performances that celebrate the mix of traditional and contemporary Japanese culture. Though cherry trees typically only live 30-40 years, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden has two of the oldest living cultivars in the country. At the north end of Cherry Walk, you will find two weeping Higan cherries. There are at least 26 species and cultivars of the flowering cherry in the garden’s collection so if you have only a little bit of time use it to make a stroll into the park in spring enjoy a gorgeous and quiet moment of flowers in bloom. The Garden website offers a map that depicts what stage of bloom each tree is in and even offers detailed information about the species of trees. There’s also history to be found at Cherry Tree Park, renamed from the George Washington Houses Playground, as a symbol of the late president’s honesty when confronted by his father for cutting down his prized tree on a whim. The park is now maintained by volunteers in the neighborhoods.
#07. ESSEX COUNTY CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL IN NEWARK, New Jersey, USA
The Garden State has more cherry trees than Washington D.C. I mean it’s the Garden State! There are more than 4,000 Japanese cherry trees in Branch Brook Park, which runs through Belleville and Newark cities. You can take a stroll on your own through the park or attend the Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival that lasts for two weeks ands give you the possibility to enjoy the Japan atmosphere.
#05. PORTLAND, Oregon, USA
Find the blooming flowers at the Portland Japanese Garden and along the bank of the Willamette River at the Japanese American Historical Plaza. It was dedicated in 1990 as a memorial to those who were interned during WWII so you can pair the flower with an historical landmark that give to your travel an accent of history experience. In Japanese tradition, the landscape is used to tell a story. Here cherry trees create a backdrop to exploring history thru engraved poetry and bronze relief. It is very evocative and touching.
#07. SEATTLE CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL, Washington, USA
In addition to the Seattle Cherry Blossom and Japanese Cultural Festival, the city has some mature cherry trees you shouldn’t miss! The University of Washington has 30 Yoshino cherry trees that were relocated from the Arboretum in the 1960’s. Seward Park has trees that were donated in 1929 by Japan. You can find the oldest cherries in the city at Jefferson Park. They were planted in 1912 and another 25 were planted to mark the park’s 100 year anniversary.
#04. NORTHERN CALIFORNIA CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL IN SAN FRANCISCO, California, United States of America
All the cherry action in San Francisco takes obviously place in Japantown, one of the only three remaining Japanese enclaves in the country. Cherry trees are easy to spot along the pedestrian mall, while the festival takes place for two weeks, usually from April 9-10 to April 16-17 when the final parade take place on April 17th around midday, the festival includes performances on the koto (a Japanese musical instrument), and visitors will also have the opportunity to attend classical and folk dance performances to enjoy the Japan culture. The cherry trees start blooming in the meadows of Golden Gate Park in mid-March but keep an eye on the ones in the Tea Garden. They are spectacular and were originally planted as a ‘Japanese Village’ exhibit in 1894 for the California Midwinter International Exposition so they have a long and interesting history. The Tea Garden is one of the most popular attractions in the city and cherry blossom season is the best season to enjoy its beauty.
The largest collection of cherry trees in Los Angeles is in the San Fernando Valley where you can enjoy a view of over 1,000 pink cloud cherry blossom trees in the Lake Balboa / Anthony C. Beilenson Park off Balboa Boulevard. This is the place to be in the springtime for a little bit of peace and quiet amid the city if you are in the area.
#06. WAIMEA CHERRY BLOSSOM HERITAGE FESTIVAL IN BIG ISLAND, Hawaii, USA
There are several events held on the Big Island about the Sakura tradition but Waimea has the largest collection of trees of all the islands, festival take place Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017 at 9 am – 3 pm.
#07. SAKURA DAYS JAPAN FAIR IN VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada
Canada also received the cherry trees that bloom every spring as gift, this time from the Mayors of Kobe and Yokohama. Vancouver houses no less than 500 cherry trees planted in Stanley Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, Kitsilano Beach Park, and on West 22nd Avenue. They hold one of the youngest cherry blossom festivals, starting to celebrate the sakura in 2005. The celebration includes a Cheery Jam, which is a downtown lunchtime concert.
Japan, it turns out, is very generous with its blossom gifts and gave the city of Vancouver a whopping 37,000 cherry trees. These tend to reach their peak in mid April and, since 2006, the city has celebrated with a Cherry Blossom Festival starting at the end of March. Art performances, film screenings and a haiku ( a kind of poem that has seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, and has its origins in Japan, it is generally focused on traditionally evoking images of the natural word that combine natural elements and sentiments) competition make up the entertainment and at night the trees are hung with paper lanterns and create a magnificent atmosphere.