CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVALS

The World's 10 Best Cherry Blossom Festivals

When the pink and white blooms known as sakura signal the start of spring, cities around the world start celebrating. Check out our favorite cherry blossom festivals, from the small town of Macon, Georgia to the big annual blowout in Washington, D.C. and across the globe to Japan and Korea, plus travel tips on how to get there.

 

 

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Vancouver, B.C. (vcbf.ca)
Vancouver only began celebrating the bloom in 2005, making it one of the youngest of all cherry blossom festivals. But the monthlong festivities are already sprawling, with dozens of events spread over more than 50 city parks. You can take your pick of picturesque picnic spots—from 1,000-acre coastal Stanley Park to the lovingly planted public gardens of Queen Elizabeth Park to Kitsilano Beach Park, with its blooming trees, weeping willows, and views of English Bay. Check the festival website for a map that details which type of tree appears in each park. The Cherry Jam, a downtown lunchtime concert, brings the rhythms of traditional taiko drumming to office workers looking to celebrate spring. Don't Miss: The Haiku Invitational, in which budding poets submit their best 5-7-5 odes to the sakura (anyone can participate online). Poems are posted on the festival website through the spring, and winners will be announced in the fall—there's no cash prize, but the victors will have his or her poems read by celebrities, featured in the 2012 festival, and some pieces may even appear on TransLink SkyTrains and buses throughout Vancouver.
When to Go:
March 26–April 22, 2011.
Where to Stay:
A former motel that's undergone an artful rebirth, the Listel Hotel offers multiple styles of accommodations: For instance, each room on the Gallery floors features the works of a unique contemporary artist, including Robert Indiana, while rooms on the Museum floors pay homage to Canada's rugged Northwest coast, with carved cedar headboards, hand-forged ironworks, and original art from the Tlingit and Kwakwaka'wakw nations. doubles from $145, thelistelhotel.com.

Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival Jinhae, South Korea
South Korea's largest cherry blossom festival honors naval hero Admiral Yi Sun-shin, who famously held back the Japanese invasion of the peninsula more than 400 years ago. And what an honor it is: More than 220,000 cherry trees burst with white blooms—not pink—giving the seaside town an ethereal ambience during the peak blossom period. While the trees are scattered throughout the city, our favorite spots include Anmin Road, which includes a 3.5-mile tunnel of trees, making it a perfect promenade for a springtime walk, and Jehwangsan Park, where one can ascend the 365 steps of the Ilnyeon Gyedan (or One Year Stairway) to experience the incredible vista of thousands of cherry blossoms against the backdrop of sea and pine-studded mountains. Don't Miss: A walk over the Yeojwacheon Bridge, almost hidden from view because of the overhanging trees. If you're lucky enough to get a windy day, you'll be treated to a snowfall of petals.
When to Go:
Festival dates have not been set as of press time. Previous blooms have occurred in late March to early April, though a particularly snowy winter may delay this year's celebrations.
Where to Stay: There is little in the way of accommodations in Jinhae, but nearby Changwon, about 30 minutes from Jinhae by shuttle train (about $2 each way), offers accessible hotels. The Pullman Ambassador Changwon City7, which opened in 2008, is outfitted with public steam baths, Jacuzzis, and spa services. Doubles from $139, accorhotels.com.

 

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