The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival takes place in April most years. It features a Japan Fair and other blossom-themed events.
In 2021 the festivals celebrated its 15th anniversary with a series of virtual events due to COVID-19. In 2022 the festival runs from April 1st until the 28th in a slightly scaled-down format.
Events happening in 2022 include the Big Picnic at David Lam Park on April 2nd and Sakura Days Japan Fair at VanDusen Garden on April 9th and 10th. Both are in-person events. There are a few other smaller events too this year. Several events that normally take place during the festival, however, aren’t happening in 2022. Hopefully they’ll be back in 2023!
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Cherry Blossom Festival
In celebration of spring and the blossoming of cherry trees, there are events throughout Metro Vancouver most years. They include a Cherry Jam Concert downtown, Sakura Days Japan Fair at VanDusen Garden and more.
It’s a great festival, as acknowledged by the Canadian Garden Council which named it Canada’s Garden Festival of the Year Award winner a few years ago.
Cherry Jam Concert at Burrard Station
The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off most years (but not this year) with a Cherry Jam concert at the Burrard SkyTrain Station.
In 2020 the event was scheduled to take place from 12:00 to 1:30 pm on April 2nd and 3rd. Due to concerns about the coronavirus, however, the event didn’t happen in 2020 or 2021. It didn’t happen in 2022 either.
In years when it does take place the Cherry Jam event usually includes Taiko Japanese drumming, singing, dance and other musical performances. There is also the reading of haiku poetry.
Cherry Jam isn’t huge, with typically only a couple hundred spectators. It’s a great little event though and recommended if you are downtown at the time.
See our article about the Cherry Jam Concert for more information.
Cherry Blossom Nights of Light
The Nights of Light was going to be a new Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival event. It was to make its debut in 2019. Unfortunately, however, it was cancelled. The event didn’t happen in 2020 or 2021 either. Nor is it happening in 2022. Maybe they’ll try to run it again in the future.
Similar to the Spring Lights Illumination Night from previous years (which was also cancelled for 2019), Nights of Light was going to be a free multi-sensory event at Queen Elizabeth Park featuring music and light displays.
For more information click Nights of Light.
Spring Lights Illumination Night
In 2019 the Spring Lights Illumination Night was going to take place by the Japanese Monument in the middle of Stanley Park (between the Miniature Train venue and the Vancouver Aquarium) in mid-April. This particular event was cancelled for 2019, however, and it hasn’t taken place since.
The Stanley Park location was going to be a new venue for the event and it was set to be one day longer than in previous years. The last few years the event has taken place over the course of just two nights and, not at Stanley Park, but at Queen Elizabeth Park instead.
In years when it does take place, a few thousand people attend. The lights and blossoms are amazing.
Note: The date each year has been subject to change at the last minute depending on the weather and state of the cherry blossom blooming. Whatever the final date, however, the event has typically involved a beautiful light display, performing artists and people with their picnics.
For more information, check out Spring Lights Sakura Illumination Night.
TIP #1: If and when the event next takes place, dress warmly. It can get cool at night. Also, arrive early to find parking and enjoy a stroll and the evening views before the show.
TIP #2: Double check the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival website before going to an event as they sometimes have to change plans at the last minute due to the weather.
Sakura Days Japan Fair at VanDusen Garden
The Sakura Days Japan Fair did happen in 2022!
In 2020 this event was going to take place at VanDusen Botanical Garden on the weekend of April 18th to 19th. That didn’t happen, however, due to concerns about the coronavirus. The fair did happen, however, on April 9th and 10th of this past year.
Each year Japanese anime comic art is featured and celebrated at the event, and there is a Japanese tea ceremony to experience, Japanese food for sale and sake to sample. There are also usually workshops for the public on things like origami (Japanese paper folding art), calligraphy, and ikebana (Japanese flower arranging art).
The cost for the Sakura Days Japan Fair typically depends on whether you are a member of VanDusen Garden and if you purchase your tickets in advance. In 2020 adult admission was going to range from between about $9 to $14 for adults, depending on when and how tickets were purchased. In 2022 tickets cost between $6.75 and $17.83 depending on your age.
Click Sakura Days Japan Fair for more information about the event.
The Big Picnic at David LamPark
The Big Picnic is a free cherry blossom-viewing event. It has taken place at Queen Elizabeth Park in past years. It was scheduled for Saturday, April 11th, in 2020. Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, the event didn’t take place in 2020 or 2021. It was back in 2022, however, but at a new venue.
“Hanami” is the Japanese traditional practice of gathering with friends and family in parks under cherry trees and admiring the blossoms while eating and drinking. “Hana” in Japanese means “flower” and “mi” means “to see.” The Big Picnic is a celebration of “hanami”.
When the event happens, arrive early if you can to find parking, especially if it’s a sunny day. Also, take your own picnic, lawn chair or a tarp or something to sit on. Food is also available for purchase and there is free family-friendly entertainment.
At the Big Picnic event there is live entertainment. There are also free outdoor sessions of yoga and a small number of food trucks.
In total, at the event, we estimate that between around 500 and 1000 people are on site at any given time. So it’s not a huge event, but it is free and a fabulous time to check out the park’s cherry blossoms.
For more information about this Vancouver Cherry Blossom hanami event, click Big Picnic.
Sakura Night Gala in Stanley Park
In years when it does take place the Sakura Night Gala is a standing-only dinner reception at the Stanley Park Pavilion at 610 Pipeline Road in Stanley Park. It hasn’t happened for the past few years because of the pandemic. Hopefully it will return in 2023.
In 2020 the event was scheduled to take place on April 23rd, but it was cancelled due to the coronavirus. The event was set to run from 6:00 until 9:00 pm. When it does happen it’s usually a popular event with a “pink tie” dress code.
Tickets to the Sakura Night Gala are not inexpensive. In 2019 the event cost $175. It’s a fundraising event though, and the ticket price includes a tax-deductible charitable donation to the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.
Although the dinner took place on May 5th in 2019, ticket sales ended earlier in the week. If you wanted to go, you had to make sure to buy your tickets before the deadline (which was April 30th that year).
At the Sakura Night Gala some of Vancouver’s top Japanese chefs prepare a selection of fancy dishes. Hopefully it can happen in 2023.
Bike the Blossoms Cycle Ride in Vancouver
Bike the Blossoms is a free event that usually happens towards the end of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival season. In 2019 it was going to take place on Saturday, April 27th, between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm. It was rescheduled, however, for Saturday, April 20th, due to the state of the cherry blossoms (which were blossoming earlier than expected).
It doesn’t appear that this event is happening in 2022. Hopefully it can return in the future.
In years when it does happen, in total, the ride is about 10 to 12 km in distance. Although free, participants in the Bike the Blossoms event need to fill out a waiver form. Waivers are available online and can be printed and brought with you to the event on the day. Alternatively, participants can arrive at least an hour early to fill out the form on site.
The bike route varies slightly each year, but always starts on the south side of John Hendry Park near Trout Lake at East 19th Avenue. That’s just a short walk from the Trout Lake Community Centre which is located at 3300 Victoria Drive.
Some years the Bike the Blossoms event does a loop and finishes back at John Hendry Park. Other years, like in 2015 and 2016, it ends at Queen Elizabeth Park. In 2017 the bike ride finished back at Trout Lake.
Cherry Blossoms in Vancouver
The Lower Mainland has thousands of cherry trees all over the region, and never is this more obvious than in the spring when parts of the city turn beautiful shades of pink. Japan donated hundreds of cherry trees to the City of Vancouver in the 1930s, and to this day we benefit from that generous gift.
There are various different types of cherry trees, and they all bloom at slightly different times.
Depending on the date, best places to see the cherry trees include Stanley Park, VanDusen Garden and outside Burrard Station, but there are trees bursting into bloom throughout the region during much of March and April.
In most years, some of the earliest concentrations of cherry blossoms start to show up around Burrard Station in downtown Vancouver and in Kitsilano in various areas (including around West 4th and by the Vancouver Space Centre). The entrance to Stanley Park, by the southern end of Pipeline Road, is also one of the first places in Vancouver to see large numbers of pink trees each season.
For more details about the event see the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival website.
For information on other events taking place this time of year, check out our April Calendar.
Depending on the season, some of the Lower Mainland’s best places to see cherry blossoms in the spring include the following parks:
- Stanley Park (in Vancouver)
- Queen Elizabeth Park (in Vancouver)
- Ambleside near Millennium Park (in West Vancouver)
- Deep Cove (in North Vancouver)
- Deer Lake Park (in Burnaby)
- Minoru Park (in Richmond)
- Rocky Point Park (in Port Moody)
- Bear Creek Park (in Surrey)
For other ideas on places to explore outdoors, check out Vancouver’s Parks and Places in Nature.