Impatient to see the May flowers these April showers are supposed to bring? Then you're in blooming luck.
It is cherry blossom time! These Japanese transplants usually bloom for a week or two in April before their delicate pink and white petals fall to the ground. In their native land, aside from heralding the beginning of spring, their brief appearance symbolizes mortality. “It’s an allegory for the life cycle,” says Patrick Cullina, Vice President of Horticulture and Operations at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York. “Life is fleeting — stop to appreciate nature.”
Fortunately you do not have to travel to Japan—or Washington D.C., the American city with which everyone associates the blooms—to appreciate them. Here are a few festivals that are a bit closer to your MainStreet:
- Locals don pink in Macon, Ga., where 300,000 Yoshino cherry trees are already in full bloom with only a few days left till the 26th Annual Cherry Blossom (through April 6) comes to a close. Look out for this year's official mascot: Petals, a giant pink poodle.
- Washington, D.C.’s National Cherry Blossom Festival (through April 13) is world-renowned. About 3,700 trees line the shore of the Tidal Basin, where nighttime tours showcase the flower’s ephemeral beauty under the stars. Select local restaurants have also created cherry-flavored and blossom-inspired dishes and drinks. On April 12, cap off the festival with a street party featuring sumo, anime and a Ginza Marketplace.
- Philadelphia’s six-year-old Suburu Cherry Blossom Festival (April 5–19) is growing strong. For the past decade, organizers have planted 1,000 cherry trees all around the city to supplement those donated by the Japanese government in 1926. There are groves at Fairmount Park, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and all along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. This year’s festivities, include sake tasting and taiko drumming.
- New York's Brooklyn Botanic Garden celebrates the cherry blossom–viewing season with Hanami (April 5–May 4), the Japanese tradition of cherishing the cherry’s cycle from first bud to the last petal drop. With more than 250 cherry blossom trees and 47 different varieties and species, this dazzling display lasts five weeks. Appreciate it below the double-flowering kanzan trees of the Cherry Esplanade.
- In New Jersey, the 32nd Annual Cherry Blossom Festival (April 13–20) is held amid 2,300 cherry trees in Newark’s Branch Brook Park. With additional trees being planted over the next few weeks, this small-scale festival is definitely worth a visit. Activities include a road race and a bicycle tour of the grounds.
- More than 200,000 people are expected at the 41st Annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival (April 12–13, 19–20), which takes place in San Francisco, Ca.’s historic Japantown. This year’s blossom queen and her court will make the rounds while visitors enjoy exhibitions on calligraphy and martial arts. For a taste of Japan, take a detour through the food bazaar on Webster Street for sushi as delicate as the flowery cherries in Golden Gate Park.
Just don’t wait too long—come May the bloom will be off these blossoms!