The following article was submitted by Lena White, passionate Vancouverite.
Spring time in Vancouver is a joyous spectacle of cotton candy cherry trees that toss the city with pink confetti! The Vancouver Park Board has planted and maintains over 19,000 flowering cherry trees in the city. There is a great diversity of species, each with its subtly unique blossoms, colours, and fragrances. While there are dozens of varieties in Vancouver, I’ll tell you about the three most commonly planted.
The first to appear are the Accolade cherry trees. In early March these frilly, rose-like petals delight our winter-weary eyes. For an unforgettable experience, check out the gorgeous display of Accolade cherry blossoms in front of the North entrance of Vancouver’s City Hall (453 West 12th Avenue Vancouver). In mid-to-late March you can savour the more subtle beauty of the Yoshino cherry tree. Varying in hue from butter white to the faintest powder pink, this is one of the most abundant of Vancouver’s flowering cherries. There are stunning displays in Nitobe Memorial Garden at UBC (1895 Lower Mall), in Queen Elizabeth Park (4600 Cambie Street), and at the Stanley Park Japanese Canadian World War I Memorial (located directly behind the Vancouver Aquarium). By early May the Kanzan cherry trees are performing a stunning finale. The most widely planted cherry tree in Vancouver, these bundles of lipstick-pink blossoms over-arch numerous streets in and around the city. Displays are particularly spectacular on Granville Street, between Davie and Robson, and on Cornwall Avenue and Broadway.
If you are truly passionate about the “Sakura” (Japanese for cherry blossom), mark April 5th-28th on your calendar for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (VCBF). It all starts on a joyful note on April 5th with the Cherry Jam Downtown Concert (at the indoor concourse of Burrard SkyTrain Station). Arrive with an appetite because renowned leader in Japanese cuisine, Tojo, will be demonstrating his culinary finesse. You can then work off those calories with some free umbrella dance instruction at 11:30am (a prelude to the actual event on April 14th, see below). At noon, you can relax and enjoy the Talent Concert. To learn more about this event, please click here.
On April 7th and 8th, between 10:00am and 5:00pm, there is the delightful Sakura Days Japan Fair held at VanDusen Botanical Garden. This celebration of Japanese culture includes such highlights as a tea ceremony, origami (paper folding), ikebana (flower) arranging, Haiku invitational, sake tasting, taiko drumming, shakuhachi (bamboo flute), koto (Japanese harp), martial arts performances, yukata dressing, and more!
You can learn some smooth new moves by signing up for the one-of-a-kind Cherry Blossom Umbrella Dance on April 14th. Created by renowned choreographer Shiamak Davar, this energetic and whimsical dance combines Bollywood moves with jazz and other Western styles to create one heart-pounding routine and allows you to see umbrellas like never before – Let’s face it, living in Vancouver, we see lots of them. For details on how to sign up, please click here.
For the art lovers reading this, please visit the exceptional Plein-Air Blossom Painting event held every Saturday from April 7th-28th (11:00am-2:00pm) at VanDusen Botanical Garden. Exceptional local artists such as Janice Robertson, Alan Wylie, and Bob McMurray will instruct and direct you to express the glory of the Sakura on canvas. Bring your own easel and painting supplies and go wild! Please visit the website to learn more.
This is just a sampling of what Vancouver’s Cherry Blossom Festival has to offer, so why not join in and celebrate Vancouver’s Sakura with all the diversity and creativity that this city has to offer.