“Quiero hacer contigo lo que la primavera hace con los cerezos.”~Pablo Neruda
(I want to do to you what spring does with the cherry trees.)
There is something magical about Cherry Blossom season. After a grey, gloomy winter, all of a sudden seemingly barren trees miraculously give birth to thousands of pink cherry flower babies. You have to be made of stone to not get a little thrill when you see the first ones of the year.
Even the demise of cherry blossoms is pretty. Pink petal rain falls into our hair as we walk by, reminding of the beauty and fragility of life. The short-lived burst of pink inspires us to stop and savour life- even just for a moment or two.
So where are some of the best places to fully experience Cherry Blossom Season?
Sakura (Cherry Blossom) season in Japan is a big deal. Hanami (flower viewing) and Haiku writing (short poetry), are two traditional practices that celebrate the brief blooming period, and go back for centuries. Friends and family gather to celebrate the prettiest time of the year, often dressed in kimonos or yukatas, to picnic under blossom laden trees.
Check HERE for the blooming forecast for cities across Japan and other Sakura information.
I was lucky to be living in South Korea in the springtime several years ago. I went to the festival in Jinhae Gunhangje , and although it rained, I greatly appreciated the colourful combination of hundreds of umbrellas and dripping cherry blossoms. I also hopped over to Jeju Island while the cherry trees were still in bloom. Jeju Island is a gorgeous place and the blooming pink trees, with green hills and Korean ponies in the background, was a lovely sight.
Vancouver is home to over 37,000 cherry trees, a gift from Japan. I lived on a street that had about 7000 of them (I’m exaggerating, but the whole neighbourhood was covered in pink).
The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is Canada’s only official Sakura festival. It started in 2006 and offers film screenings, photography contests, dance performances, a Haiku writing contest, and of course picnics under the many trees.
in a little girl’s hair
just along for the ride
(My attempt at a Haiku)
You can find more Haikus and information on how to enter this year’s contest right HERE.
Japan was generous to Washington as well, gifting them some 3000 trees in 1912. Washington’s National Cherry Blossom Festival features a parade, music performances, a kite festival, paddleboat rides to see the blossoms,and nightly lantern walks.
One of the city’s most central parks, the Kungsträdgården, is pretty in pink in the spring as well. Sixty three Cherry trees line the park’s plaza, giving tourists and locals the chance to admire their beauty.
Expected peak bloom: Mid to late April
In Shanghai, the blossoms can best be viewed at Gucun Park, full of hundreds of trees covering more than 13 hectares.
Anyone wanting to see cherry blossom in London should head to Kew Gardens in Surrey.
In 2005, the Danish Honorary Consul of Hiroshima gave the city 200 cherry trees; a gift for the bicentennial of Hans Christian Anderson. This was the beginning of the annual Copenhagen Sakura festival, taking place in Langelinie Park (home to the Little Mermaid statue). Free workshops in traditional Japanese art, including origami and calligraphy are offered over the two day festival.
Macon, Georgia. USA
Like most Southern belles, the cherry trees in Georgia blossom in style. Outnumbering people, some 300,000 Yoshino cherry trees unabashedly paint the town pink every spring. Way back in 1952, one Mr. William A. Fickling, inspired by the blossoms in D.C. started handing out cuttings from his backyard cherry tree to everyone in town. The festival has grown into a giant pink party with hot air balloons, fireworks, a beauty pageant, camel rides, a roadkill animal show, and bed races. Yep, I said roadkill animal show and bed races. Check out Macon’s International Cherry Blossom Festival website for more info.
Jerte Valley, Spain
Primavera sees the Jerte Valley in Extremadura covered in a snowy-white blanket of blossoms from over 1.5 million sweet cherry trees. The Fiesta del Cerezo en Flor hosts artisan markets, workshops, liquor tastings, visits to cherry farms, and exhibitions in honor of the blossoms. After the blooming season the ‘Cerecera’ or cherry picking begins, resulting in the exportation of sweet cherries all over Spain and other parts of the world.
Does anyone know of any other festivals or great places to spend Cherry Blossom Season? Anyone want to share a blossom themed Haiku?