Spring is here! And so are Vancouver’s cherry blossoms. Every year, Vancouverites eagerly anticipate the blooming of the city’s 40,000 cherry trees. The blooming period, usually between late March and the end of April, signals the arrival of spring, covering the city in a wave of pink petals. The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival marks the period and celebrates the beauty of Vancouver’s cherry trees with a celebration of all things spring.
The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival began in 2006. As many of Vancouver’s cherry trees originated as gifts from Japan, the Festival began as a way to express gratitude for the gift and to celebrate the beauty and joy the cherry blossoms bring to the city. Since 2006, the Festival has marked the occasion with educational programs, musical performances, and fine art and craft exhibitions. The Festival’s mission is simple: “To sustain & renew Vancouver’s cherry tree heritage, while educating and actively engaging diverse communities in local arts and culture to celebrate the fragile beauty of the iconic Cherry Blossom.”
The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival features several events over the month of April. A full list of events can be found below or, if you’d like to take a self-guided tour, click here to see a map of cherry blossoms in Vancouver. To see some highlights from past years, check out the video below!
Cherry Jam Downtown Concert
What: Cherry Jam will showcase performances by the Yayoi Movement Theatre, folk artist Michael Averill, 2013 Haiku Invitational celebrity readings and Haiku Bard by Christopher Gaze of Bard on the Beach, an energetic dance performance by VanCity Soran and the thunderous sounds of Richmond’s Tetsu Taiko to warm up the scenes of Cherry Jam.
When: April 3rd @ 12pm – 1:30pm
Where: Indoor concourse of Burrard Skytain station
What: Stuart Ward uses LED and patterned video lights to illuminate a canopy of cherry blossoms with his sensory projection artwork. The single night quality reflects the tempo of the blossoms, and their varying bloom times. The unique experience will create an intangible memory of a time and place never to be duplicated.
When: April 4th @ 7:30pm – 9pm
Where: Sutcliffe Park behind False Creek Community Centre, Granville Island
Carousel Theatre Wondrous Tales of Old Japan
What: Wondrous Tales of Old Japan is a collection of amazing Japanese folk tales including worlds where ogres clash with heroes who are born from giant peaches, fishermen fall in love with dragon princesses, and magical dogs reincarnate. These ancient Japanese legends are brought to life through a dynamic fusion of Kabuki theatre, Taiko drumming, and shadow puppetry. For ages 7+.
When: April 4th – 20th
Where: The Waterfront Theatre, 1412 Cartwright Street, Granville Island
Tickets: Adults/$29, Seniors & Students/$25, Youth/$15. For showtimes and tickets please visit the Carousel Theatre website.
Stanley Park Young Naturalists: Flower Power
What: Flowers are in bloom and a buzz is in the air. Discover the powerful partnerships between plants and pollinators in Stanley Park. Bugs, birds, bees and other crafty creatures all work together to keep every spring colourful. For accompanied kids ages 5-14. To preregister, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When: April 5th @ 10am – 12pm
Where: Stanley Park Nature House on Lost Lagoon, Foot of Alberni St
Sakura Days Japan Fair
What: Escape to VanDusen Botanical Garden and experience the special ritual of the Japanese tea ceremony, enjoy Japanese festival food, sample premium sake, take guided Tree Talks and Walks to the cherry trees, and enjoy haiku readings. Experience Japan with hands-on workshops and try your hand at ikebana (flower arranging) and calligraphy, and origami and other Japanese arts and crafts demonstrations. Other Sakura Days performances include Japanese classical dance, taiko drumming, the Cherry Blossom Dance, soothing tones of shakuhachi (bamboo flute), martial arts performances, anime, the Kid’s Tent and more!
When: April 5th & 6th @ 10am – 5pm
Where: VanDusen Botanical Garden
Tickets: In advance: Adults/$10.50, Seniors/$8, Children/$5.50, Youth/$8, Family/$25. At the gate: Adults/$12, Senior/$9, Child/$6.50, Youth/$9, Family/$28. Garden members: Adults/$9, Seniors/$8, Family/$20, Group rate/$9.
Plein-Air Blossom Painting
What: It does not matter if you are a beginner or an advanced artist; come join Alfonso Tejada (watercolour & sketching), Sandrine Pelissier (colour exploration using multimedia, acrylics and watercolour) and Elizabeth Harris (oils & acrylics) for four, three hour Saturday sessions.
When: April 5th, 12th, 19th & 26th @ 11am – 2pm
Where: VanDusen Botanical Garden, 5151 Oak Street. Meet inside the Visitor’s Centre.
Cost: Individual classes: $50, all four classes: $175. Additional Festival ticket entrance of $5 for non-garden members per session. Register here.
World Green City Lecture
What: Please join an engaging session with international experts in the presentation and discussion session “World Green City”. As our populations become more urban, celebrating urban nature and our sustainable communities will become the way of the future. A panel of experts will share international initiatives around the way we design and measure our cities, and some of the programs for celebrating success that are already changing how we live together in our communities. Celebrate new ideas, meet new organizations, be inspired by the tremendous positive change that is happening now around the world.
When: April 7th @ 2pm – 4pm
Where: 800 Robson Square – Theatre C300
Tickets: $20, purchase online here.
What: Learn hip new Bollywood moves this spring with SHIAMAK dancers! Moves so easy to learn that no prior rehearsals are required. Get ready to prepare for this Blossom Bollywood Dance Party outdoors with the SHIAMAK Vancouver Dance Team! All ages are welcome.
When: April 12th @ 1pm – 2:30pm
Where: Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza
Cost: Free, register online here.
Cherry Blossom Picnics
What: YVR Airport Authority hosts a Cherry Blossom Picnic in Larry Berg Flight Park. Bring a picnic, listen to guest speakers, and take a Tree Walk & Walk (hosted in English and Mandarin).
When: April 13th @ 11:30am
Where: Larry Berg Flight Path Park, Richmond
Sakura Windows Unveiling Ceremony
What: Please join us as we unveil the memorial windows to commemorate the history of Japanese Canadians and cherry blossom trees planted in 1977.
When: April 18th @ 12pm – 2pm
Where: Oppenheimer Park, 488 Powell Street
Bike the Blossoms
What: Join Velopalooza and the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival for a fun, free, guided bike ride.
When: April 26th @ 11am – 3pm
Where: Meet at China Creek South Park, E. Broadway & Clark Dr.
The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival invites you to celebrate the beauty of the cherry blossoms with your haiku. Enter your haiku in the 2014 Haiku Invitational. The theme this year is “Meet your neighbours.” For details and to enter, please visit the VCBF website. Deadline: June 20th, 2014.
Tree Talks & Walks
Eight Tree Talks & Walks will take place around the Lower Mainland. Areas include Downtown Coal Harbour (April 3rd), West End and Stanley Park (April 5th), Oppenheimer Park (April 6th), VanDusen Botanical Garden (April 6th), UBC (April 12th), Stanley Park (April 12th), Queen Elizabeth Park (April 13th), and Larry Berg Flight Path Park (April 13th). There will also be a Tree Talk (not a walk) on April 10th at VanDusen and an Easter Parade on April 20th (location TBA). For more details, please visit the VCBF website.
BC Blossom Watch Photo Contest
Inspired by the cherry blossoms around you? Snap a picture and share it. The BC Blossom Watch Photo Contest will begin accepting submissions April 3rd to 28th. Win prizes like gift cards and transit tickets. For details on entering, please visit the VCBF website.