The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival takes place in April, is in its 13th year in 2019, and features a Japan Fair and other blossom-themed events.
Some years the festival begins in March, but in 2018 it ran from April 5th to 29th.
Cherry Blossom Festival
In celebration of spring and the blossoming of cherry trees, there are events throughout Metro Vancouver including a Cherry Jam Concert downtown, Spring Lights Illumination Night at Queen Elizabeth Park, Sakura Days Japan Fair at VanDusen Garden and more.
It’s a great event, as acknowledged by the Canadian Garden Council which named it Canada’s Garden Festival of the Year Award winner for 2015.
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Cherry Jam Concert at Burrard Station
The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off most years with a Cherry Jam concert at the Burrard SkyTrain Station.
In 2018 the event was scheduled from 12 to 1:30 pm on April 5th. The event includes Taiko Japanese drumming, song, dance and other musical performances, and the reading of haiku poetry.
It’s not a huge concert, with typically only a couple hundred spectators, but it’s a great little event and recommended if you are downtown at the time.
See Cherry Blossom Festival Cherry Jam Concert for more information.
Spring Lights Illumination Night
In 2017 the Spring Lights Illumination Night took place at Queen Elizabeth Park (at 4600 Cambie Street) after sunset on April 15th and 16th. In 2018 the venue is the same but the dates are to be determined (and dependent on the blossom season).
A few thousand people attend each year and the lights and blossoms are amazing.
Note: the date each year is 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 involves a beautiful light display, performing artists and people with their picnics.
For more information, check out Sakura Illumination.
TIP #1: Dress warmly and 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 have a habit of changing plans.
Sakura Days Japan Fair at VanDusen Gardens
In 2018 the Sakura Days Japan Fair took place at VanDusen Botanical Garden on the weekend of April 14-15.
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 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 depends on whether you are a member of VanDusen Garden and whether you purchase your tickets in advance. In 2018 adult admission ranged from about $14 to $16 for adults, depending on when and how tickets were purchased.
See Sakura Days Japan Fair on the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival website for more information.
The Big Picnic at Queen Elizabeth Park
In 2018 the Big Picnic was a free cherry blossom-viewing event at Queen Elizabeth Park on Saturday, April 14th, from noon until 3 pm.
“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”.
Queen Elizabeth Park is located on West 33rd Avenue just off Cambie Street. 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 in 2018 there was live entertainment with groups like the Vancouver Morris Men Dancers. There were also free outdoor sessions of yoga and around 3 food trucks, including one from McDonald’s giving away free coffee and hot chocolate.
In total, at the event, 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 the Vancouver Cherry Blossom’s outdoor “hanami” event in 2018, click Big Picnic.
Sakura Night Gala in Stanley Park
The Sakura Night Gala is a standing-only dinner reception at the Stanley Park Pavilion at 610 Pipeline Road on Sunday, April 22nd. In 2018 the event ran from 6:30 until 9:30 pm and it’s a popular event.
At $172.18 including taxes and online fees, tickets are not inexpensive. It’s a fundraising event, however, and the ticket price includes a tax-deductible $100 charitable donation to the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.
Although the dinner took place on April 22nd in 2018, ticket sales ended earlier in the week – at the end of the day on Wednesday, April 18th. If you wanted to go, you had to make sure to buy your tickets before the deadline!
At the Sakura Night Gala some of Vancouver’s top Japanese chefs prepare a selection of fancy dishes. New for 2018, there were also wine pairings.
For more information about the dinner event at Stanley Park, click Sakura Night Gala.
Bike the Blossoms Cycle Ride in Vancouver
Bike the Blossoms is a free event that takes place towards the end of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival season. In 2018 it happened on Saturday, April 28th, between 11 am and 1 pm. 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 are encouraged to arrive at least an hour early and 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. The same as last year, in 2018 the bike ride finished back at Trout Lake.
For more information about this Vancouver Cherry Blossom cycling event, click Bike the Blossoms.
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.
To find out what’s blooming and where, the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival actually has an interactive map available, where people can post and see what’s in bloom.
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.
See the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival‘s website for more details.
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.