There are many celebrations for springtime as all the flowers emerge and the world emerges from sleep. Perhaps the most brilliant and celebrated display of spring is the Sakura (cherry blossom)
festival. Originally this was a celebration that could only be found in Japan; however over a century ago Japanese envoys presented America with the gift of cherry blossom trees. For the last 102 years America’s capital has enjoyed the sakura blossom festival every spring in late March. The festival in DC will run from March 20th through April 12th with the official parade date of April 11th, 2015.
If you can’t make it to Washington, DC; there are many sakura festivals across America and each one has its own unique history and heritage along with how the Japanese trees came to be placed in the local areas. Below are a few, search for yourself and find the sakura blossoms near you.
Macon Georgia’s International Cherry Blossom Festival takes place March 19-April4. This event started a little over 30 years ago after local realtors executed a plan to plant thousands of Yoshino cherry trees around town. Now, Macon is known unofficially as the “cherry blossom capital of the world,” with a total of 300,000 cherry trees.
Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival – come down to Music City on April 11th to witness one of the youngest of the major festivals. Begun in 2009, this festival was created by the consul general of Japan to Nashville, Hiroshi Sato. Sato’s plan was to plant 100 cherry trees per year for 10 years all across the city.
Cherry Blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden – Witness a brilliant display from over 200 cherry trees over the course of a gorgeous 5-week display beginning in late March. The first trees were planted after WWI as a gift from the Japanese government. Now the Botanic Garden boasts 42 different varieties which shower the area with various hues of pink. This is considered one of the top cherry blossom areas outside of Japan due to it’s diversity of blossoms
Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival in Philadelphia runs April 6-12. In 1926 the Japanese government gave the “City of Brotherly Love” 1,600 trees as a gift of goodwill. Now the festival has dozens of events including the massive “Sakura Sunday” held in Fairmount Park’s Horticulture Center.
Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco is the second largest of these festivals aside from Washington, DC with a crowd of more than 200,000 people every year. The events are on April 11-12, 18-19 with various festivities on both weekends including a showcase of Japanese dance, singing and martial arts.
Cherry Blossom Denver Festival on June 27-28 the local Soka Gakkai Buddhist temple supports Colorado’s massive celebration of Japanese-American culture as hundreds of cherry trees blossom along the Cherry Creek neighborhood. The annual celebration is punctuated with taiko drums, dance and martial arts events.