If you’re looking for a springtime cherry blossom escape this year, give the places on this list a try! Here are some of the top under the radar cherry blossom festivals.
When to Book Your Cherry Blossom Festival Trip
Cherry blossom festivals take place in the early spring months, and people flock to gardens around the world to see the annual bloom. This viewing experience is also known as Hanami in Japanese, and the time to see the flowers from the sakura trees in full bloom lasts only a few weeks, typically between the months of March and April. It’s nearly impossible to tell the exact dates when the flowers will be at their peak bloom, but some destinations have bloom forecasts in place to help people plan their trips to see the flowers accordingly.
If you’re in Toronto, the place to see the cherry blossoms is at High Park. But it doesn’t stop there – you can find hundreds of cherry blossom festivals around the world. If you’re in one of these destinations below, here are some of the top festivals to check out!
Places to View Cherry Blossoms 🌸
Cherry blossoms bloom all across Paris, usually from late March to early April. One of the best spots to view cherry blossoms from is the south facade of Notre Dame. This will allow you to get a shot of both the blossoms and the cathedral in the background. There is also an opportunity to capture photos of cherry blossoms at night, over the river Seine.
Some other spots that are worth checking out cherry blossoms are the central courtyard at the Petit Palais, the Square Gabriel Pierné, and the garden next to the Hotel de Ville. The Jardin des Plantes also has an enormous cherry blossom tree that many nickname “Mount Fuji”, but is only a singular tree and not ideal if you’re trying to see a number of cherry blossom trees together. Aside from viewing cherry blossom trees on your own, you can also attend the Hanami cherry blossom festival that happens in the Parc de Sceaux around April 20th of each year. This festival is an immersive Japanese cultural experience, complete with sushi, umeshu, and sake.
Copenhagen is another European city that becomes engulfed in pink come mid-late April. While a slightly unusual location for cherry blossom trees, the Bispebjerg Cemetery is lined with rows of them. The botanical garden in Copenhagen also has a few cherry blossom trees, and this attraction could be worth a visit if you’re interested in seeing other plant species as well.
The official cherry blossom festival in Copenhagen is called the Copenhagen Sakura Festival. This festival lasts for two days and takes place around April 18th of each year. The festival offers cherry blossom viewing, live Japanese music and dance, and other shows and entertainment, and takes place right next to the water in Langelinie Park.
Shanghai is worth adding to your list of cherry blossom viewing locations. The Shanghai Botanical Garden and Shanghai Tongji University are popular places to see blossoms during the season, but for a less crowded experience, check out Zuibaichi Park, located on the outskirts of the city.
The official cherry blossom festival takes place around March 15th and lasts an entire month at Shanghai’s Gucun Park. Gucun Park is located in the Baoshan district of Shanghai, and has over 12,000 cherry trees that blossom from mid-late March. There are over 60 species that make up the 12,000 cherry trees, so there won’t be a shortage of variety in your blossom photos. Keep in mind that this festival costs around 5 CAD to enter, and requires a passport or ID card to be shown (which is common for most excursions and tours in Mainland China).
There are a number of cherry blossom trees that bloom from late April to early May in downtown Toronto’s High Park. This is later than most other places on this list, likely due to weather.
High Park has a number of Sakura trees that were first gifted to the country by the Japanese ambassador to Canada in 1959. The trees are now located all throughout the park, but are mostly located around the Hillside Gardens and Duck Pond. Given that High Park is the largest park in Toronto, the staff made a map of exactly where to find each tree. You can view the map here.
If you find yourself in the UK during cherry blossom season, head up to Edinburgh for a beautiful display of the flowers. April is the best time to see the flowers bloom, and is also when the weather starts to warm up. There are cherry blossom trees scattered over popular destinations throughout the city, and they bloom in both white and pink flowers.
The Meadows are one of the most popular spots to view the blossoms in Edinburgh. You can take a walk through the central path lined with cherry blossom trees, or enjoy the blossoms from one of the path’s many benches. Other places you can see the flowers bloom are Princes Street Gardens, the Royal Botanic Gardens, St. Andrew Square, and Harrison Park.
How to Photograph Cherry Blossoms
The best way to photograph cherry blossoms is with a DSLR camera. This allows you to either overexpose or underexpose, depending on the time of day. Typically, a cherry blossom photo taken on a bright, sunny day will need to be underexposed by 2-3 stops. This will prevent the blossoms from blending into the already bright background and will give them a more defined shape.
Another important thing to note when taking pictures of the blooms is that cherry blossom trees are extremely fragile, and touching them can lead to the entire tree decaying. It’s always best just to observe these beauties in their habitat! Try not to bend the branches of the trees in an attempt to get that perfect selfie, as the petals will most likely fall off and you can risk damaging the trees. To preserve cherry blossom trees for others to enjoy in the future, avoid coming into direct contact with them.
Last Minute Travel Advice
Cherry blossom season is a pretty busy time for most of these locations. The weather is starting to warm up, and people flock to areas with cherry blossom trees. If you want to take pictures of the blossoms and enjoy the experience without large crowds, try to visit on weekdays and early in the morning.
Before you head out on your trip, download these travel apps to have an even more seamless travel experience. Happy travels! 🌸