NEW YORK (MainStreet) For many, nothing says spring like viewing the cherry blossoms and that might be especially true following the long, cold winter of 2014.
Of course, the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. is the most well-known, but even if you can't make it to our nation's capital, there are still plenty of places around the U.S. to see these works of nature's beauty and to celebrate Japanese culture:
1. National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington D.C: Many people don't realize that this festival is actually an on-going event. Events are happening right now through April 13. The 2014 peak bloom prediction is for April 8-12.
2. 2014 Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival: This festival takes place in the Southwest Missouri town of Marshfield and includes a 5K run, a dinner with guest speaker Laura Bush, a quilt show and vendor booths. April 24-26. If you're in the area, Springfield, Mo. holds its annual Cherry Blossom Kite Festival on April 5. Admission to the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden is free that day. Various activities will celebrate Springfield's Sister Ciity, Isesaki, Japan.
3. Sakura Matsuri Festival, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York, N.Y.: The 33rd annual Sakura Matsuri is Brooklyn Botanic Garden's cherry blossom festival, offering more than 60 events and performances that celebrate traditional and contemporary Japanese culture. One of the most popular public events of the year, Sakura Matsuri provides visitors an opportunity to experience the first full blooming of the garden's Cherry Esplanade while enjoying classic Japanese events such as Taiko drumming and martial arts to Japanese folk dance, Kimono fashion shows and more. Dates: Saturday, April 26Sunday, April 27; 10 a.m. 6 p.m. Admission: Adults - $25, Seniors - $20, Students - $20, Children under 12 - Free, BBG Members - Free
4. Essex County Bloomfest, Essex County, N.J.: One of their cornerstone events is the Cherry Blossom 10K (April 6) where participants run through Essex County Branch Brook Park under a canopy of blooming cherry trees. Bloomfest will be held at the park on April 13.
5. Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, San Francisco: This festival is one of the largest outside of Washington D.C. Each year, over 200,000 people attend. The festival is held on Post Street between Laguna and Fillmore Streets. There will be food booths, cultural performances, martial arts, live bands, the annual Queen Program, and more. The Grand Parade will be held on Sunday, April 20, beginning at City Hall and concluding in Japantown. April 12-13 and 19-20.
6. The Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival, Nashville, TN: Stretch your legs during the Cherry Blossom Walk kick-off event, and experience youthful Japan culture at J-Funland during the festival. Sumo wrestling, a Cosplay contest, taiko (drum) dances and music are also scheduled for the day. Each year, 100 cherry trees are planted in and around Nashville. April 12.
7. Dallas Blooms, Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden: This festival runs through April 20. The cherry blossoms are the same ones that are planted in the Washington, D.C. Tidal Basin and are the cloud-like flower variety called Yoshino. There are approximately 150 trees. General admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors 65 and older, $10 for children 3-12 and free for Arboretum members and children two and under.
--Written by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell for MainStreet