Not just Japan — several other destinations all over the world turn into hotspots. “The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC, is one of the most popular events in the city that usually takes place in late March or early April, with this year’s event planned until April 16,” says Sandeep Arora, director at a travel company.
April is the ‘floralest’ month in London, as the city’s walkways and parks become flanked with cherry blossoms in full bloom during this period. The stretch between Lancaster Gate and Albert Memorial draws people from all across England for picnics, sports and live music amid the floral bloom. Kew Gardens and Regent’s Park are also popular.
In the Scottish capital, cherry blossoms can be seen on popular thoroughfares including Stafford Street and West King Street. While gossamer white blooms blend in beautifully with the blue sky, the pink cherries lining Colquhoun Street, West Princes Street and Lomond Street provide a delicious contrast. One of the most popular locations remains the West Argyle Street, a mile-long avenue lined with plump, pink blossoms. In 2021, the UK even launched a campaign called Blossom Watch — their counterpart of hanami.
The Heerstrasse and Breite Strasse streets in the German city of Bonn, almost magically transmute into a pink sea of flowers every April. The city boasts two varieties of the flowers — light-pink Japanese flowering cherries (Prunus ‘Amanogawa’) and bright-pink Japanese clove cherries (Prunus Kanzan). Little wonder then that Bonn is known as the “cherry blossom district” of Germany. The trees were first planted here during the city’s redevelopment in the 1980s (gifted by the Japanese city of Yokohama) and remain a highlight in Old Town Bonn.
Vancouver, British Columbia
The city first started planting cherry trees in the 1930s, when it received 500 of them as a gift from Japan. Today, it boasts more than 1,30,000 of them. With events such as Tree Talks and Walks at Fraser River Parkade that offer free guided tours on cherry trees, and The Big Picnic at the David Lam Park that lets you unwind under the blossoms — Vancouver sure knows how to make sakura season special. The event season this year is from April 1 to 23.
Jinhae, South Korea
Those visiting South Korea during spring must make a trip to the naval town of Jinhae near Changwon, which is touted to have one of the densest concentrations of these blossoms in the world. The sleepy hamlet hosts the annual Jinhae Gunhangje Festival in March-April, which also sees cultural performances including those by the army.
Could autumn be far behind?
Missed the cherry blossom season in the spring? Fret not and wait for the Eastern Khasi Hills in Meghalaya to come alive with lush autumn blooms, which the Japanese call jugatsuzakura. The Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival, held in November in the hilly state capital, is a celebration of this time and the city’s musical and literary heritage.
Plan ahead for the sakura season
To make the most of the cherry blossom season, it’s essential to plan your travel well. Refer to the cherry blossom forecast for the year (usually available on the official website).
Plan your travel in advance. The cherry blossoms are equally important to domestic tourists and hotels tend to get sold out fast.
Make visa arrangements in advance, as this time of the year gets extremely busy.
Keep your itinerary flexible to increase your chances of viewing the cherry blossoms in full bloom at a single location. During your trip, you may want to check the forecast daily so you can adjust the following day’s travel accordingly.
Inputs by luxury travel consultant Chhavi Chadha