World's Best Cherry Blossom Sites
The eruption of cherry blossoms at Toronto's High Park is one of the city's most talked-about annual milestones -- there's even a website tracking the trees' status -- but Toronto is not alone in attracting flower-loving visitors. The superstars of the springtime blooms, cherry blossoms beckon around the world—and even procrastinators can still catch some of the most spectacular displays. (Serious procrastinators, take note: You have into November to make it to #10.)
Cherry blossoms are a particularly welcome sight here, signaling the end of the soggy season. In fact, they're celebrated for the better part of a month, with this year's Vancouver Cherry Festival running through April 28. If you're in town on the 20th, hop on a pair of wheels for Bike the Blossoms—or if you're around for the end of the festival, don't miss the Big Sing (a massive choral-fest) on the 27th. There's even a post-script on May 5th: food that celebrates cherry blossom season by top Vancouver chefs.
If you’re late to Japan's fabled cherry blossom season, Hokkaido's the place to be. Thousands of cherry trees wait until as late as early May to hit peak. Visit Goryokaku Park in Hakodate to see more than 1,000 cherry trees around an old fort. Want a better view? Take in the scene from above at Goryokaku Tower. But no matter where you’re visiting in Japan for cherry blossom season, be sure to keep an eye on the Japan Meteorological Corporation website for the most up-to-date information.
New York City
From Union Square Park to Central Park to Randalls Island Park, you'll find sprinklings of pink and white fairy dust all over New York City. But the real show is at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, where this year's Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival (April 27-28 ) will include a traditional Minbu dance display, Taiko drumming, and a Sohenryu Tea Ceremony. But even if you can’t make the festival, head to the Garden to check out the blooms through early May. Just pre-check the Cherrywatch to see which trees are hitting their peak—and once you're there, take advantage of the free Seasonal Highlights Tour. Failing that, there's always the virtual tour of the resident Cherry Esplanade and Cherry Walk.
In Bonn, extra-vibrant cherry trees arch over the roadways to create tunnels of blooms. So even if you arrive late in the season, the carpet of bright pink petals underfoot makes for a gorgeous consolation prize.
One of the lesser-known places to see cherry blossoms, Boston makes for great, late-season viewing: Check out the Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival on May 18, or just walk along the tree-lined Charles River Esplanade from (generally) mid-April into early May.
Jerte Valley, Spain
For something completely different—gorgeous mountains blanketed in white cherry blossoms—head to Spain's Jerte Valley for the Cherry Trees in Blossom Festival. Mountain bike or hike your way through the bloom, or better yet, paraglide over the whole spectacle.
Copenhagen’s most popular cherry blossom viewing spot is a bit unexpected: Bispebjerg Cemetery, which is inundated annually with petal peepers. If you'd rather hang with a crowd that's a bit more...alive, head to Langelinie Park, where you'll find the annual Sakura Festival (April 27 and 28 this year). Though strolling under the trees is dazzling, you should also hop a boat to see them from the canals.
With thousands of cherry trees to its name, DC is one of the best places to petal-peep in the U.S.—and home to the National Cherry Blossom Festival, an almost monthlong celebration of the blooms and international friendship (ruining standard-issue bouquets forever, the mayor of Tokyo presented the trees to the American people in 1912). Most of the blossoms can be found around the Tidal Basin, where a walk under the trees is lovely—but pedal-boating or kayaking turns the experience into theatre in the round.
If you’re chasing cherry blossoms farther south, Macon's the place to be: With more than 300,000 cherry trees lining the streets, the city is nothing short of magical. Go for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival and check out the Cherry Blossom Trail. Pro tip: Some of the best photo opps are at Third Street Park, where the fountain turns pink in celebration of the trees.
Bucking the trend, the India International Cherry Festival is held in the fall. Each November, Meghalaya’s Khasi Hills celebrate the Himalayan cherry blossoms with a three-day festival, even if the flowers don't always show up on cue: These are a particularly unpredictable bunch, often blooming weeks earlier or later than expected. But hey, you could do worse than the Himalayas if you're going to hang around anywhere waiting for blossoms to appear.