Where To See The World’s Most Dramatic Cherry Blossom and Spring Tulip Festivals
This year more than most, everyone is desperate for a glimpse of spring to help them forget what a disgusting winter 2015 has been. All across the world cherry trees are in bud and ready to burst with pink perfusion to create lacy canapes dancing on spring breezes. Likewise, fat garden bulbs are sending their shoots toward the sunshine and soon gardens will sprout with spring tulips painting the landscape in impossibly bright colors. Oh yes, we need a dose of beautiful spring flowers right now! Here’s our master list of the best Cherry Blossom and Tulip Festivals across the globe.
#1 Japan – Centuries of Cherry Blossom Festivals
The Cherry Blossom is the National Flower of Japan and it’s no surprise that cherry blossom season is celebrated across the country. The Japanese have a special name for viewing their treasured cherry blossom vistas; “Hanami” is the art of picnicking, signing and drinking under and viewing the Sakura blossoms and is a centuries old tradition and celebration. Some of the most popular places to participate in Hanami are:
Kyoto – the entire city is literally blanketed with cherry trees and are a spectacular vision in spring. Among the most frequented viewing areas are Maruyama-koen Park, Kyoto Gosho (Imperial Palace Park), the Kiyomizu-dera Temple (especially at night), Ninna-ji Temple (with 8 petalled blooms that flower very late in the season).
Suzhou – With lots of gardens and parks, the White House Brook and Turtle Head Isle are most favored. For a unique experience seek out the Suzhou Cherry Blossom Horse-Riding Club, at White Horse Brook in Suzhou New District. This is the number one riding area in East China. One special riding trail is designated where you can tour on horseback and take photos.
Tokyo – At the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, you will find a lovely and serene historical botanical garden which boast 120 cherry trees in 21 varieties. The hotel offers special Hanami packages that include garden tours. Just outside the hotel property, there are famous viewing spots like the promenade along the Kanda River behind the hotel.
Peak Season – End of March through Early April
#2 Istanbul – Birthplace of Tulip Festivals
It may surprise you to learn that Istanbul in Turkey is the first local to become fascinated with tulip blooms. In the early 12th centry, Ottoman Sultans began the practice of cultivating tulips for dazzling display. During the 1700’s tulips became the supreme symbol of wealth with some rare bulbs selling for the equivalent of $80,000 today. It was forbidden to purchase or trade for tulips outside of the capital. In fact it is believed the very name “tulip” is derived from the word “Tulbent” in the turkish language, and the “turban” is so-called because of it’s resemblance to a flower shape. But we all know a good thing can’t be contained forever, and eventually the love of tulips spread west to Europe as well. Today, one of the finest celebrations of the tulip can be enjoyed by visiting the gardens of Topkapi Palace. For the entire month of April, the city of Istanbul has brilliant tulip filled garden displays. Thanks to ContextTravel.com for sharing info on Tulip Season in Turkey.
#3 Keukenhof Gardens, Holland, Netherlands
Certainly Holland wears the crown when it comes to glorious tulip displays, with Keukenhof Gardens being considered the most beautiful garden in the world during spring tulip season. From March 20 through May 17th, Keukenhof Gardens dazzle visitors with more than 7 MILLION tulips, daffodils and hyacinths in bloom. Located between Amsterdam and the Hague, Keukenhof Gardens are centrally located and easy to visit. In fact, if you plan a long layover at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, you can easily take the train right from the airport station and fit in a visit to the gardens. Each year, Keukenhof selects a theme and for 2015 it’s Vincent van Gogh. A giant bulb mosaic has been created to depict a self-portrait of van Gogh. You can tour the gardens on a guided walking tour,on a bike ride or silent boat trip. Or for an extra-special day visit on April 25th and enjoy the grand Flower Parade with more than 20 floats, marching bands and luxury cars festooned with decorative flowers. Thanks to Go-Today.com for sharing information on their spring trips to the Keukenhof Gardens.
#4 – The Jerte Valley, Extremadura, Spain – Hillsides Blanketed With Cherry Blossoms
Thousands of visitors travel to Extremadura, Spain (west of Madrid) to view the Jerte Valley in spring when it is blanketed with 2 million cherry trees in bloom. The entire valley turns white for 2 weeks, but there’s only glimpse of snow on the highest mountain peaks surrounding the valley. The area celebrates with numerous festivals, fairs and markets that adds to it’s appeal for mountain biking, hiking, bird watching and Roman ruins.
#5 Ottawa 63rd Canadian Tulip Festival
In early May, Ottawa, Canada erupts in brilliant color as more than 1 million tulips come into bloom. This year from May 8-18, 2015, the city of Ottawa will celebrate their 63rd Canadian Tulip Festival which commemorates the close relationship between Canada and the Netherlands. During WWII, Ottawa provided a safe haven for the Dutch Royal Family and they said thank you by gifting 100,000 tulip bulbs to the city. The tulip is now Ottawa’s official flower and the tulip festival gets bigger and brighter every year.
#6 – Washington, DC, National Cherry Blossom Festival
In 1912, 3,000 cherry trees were gifted to Washington, D.C. by the city of Tokyo Japan, and planted along the Washington Tidal Basin. Ever since, crowds have journeyed to Washington to see the spring flowering display, which has grown over the years. This year 1.5 million visitors are expected between March 20 – April 12th, with April 4th expected to be the peak bloom day. Gather all the celebration information from the information center at Union Station and take in all the events including Ranger Guided Tours, Tidal Basin Boat Tours, floral design classes, ArtJamz picture painting, and live music performances at the Tidal Basin. You’ll find specially designed Cherry Blossom Packages at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, Embassy Row Hotel.
All Around The USA! Not to be outdone….communities around the United States have organized their own spring Cherry Blossom and Tulip Festivals. In the American spirit, they are determined to make their celebration among the best in the world. Here’s a look at some of the most popular spring flower fests:
Hershey Gardens, Hershey Pennsylvania
While families usually flock to Hershey Park for big bites of delicious chocolate and fun amusement park rides, Spring brings flower lovers to walk through the Hershey Gardens and view the more than 30,000 gorgeous tulip displays. Using over 100 tulip varieties, the 23-acre botanical garden is one of the state’s biggest springtime attractions.
Albany, New York Tulip Festival
Tulips for Mother’s Day is a long-standing tradition in Albany as thousands gather on May 9-10, 2015 to celebrate their Dutch heritage and the 67th Annual Tulip Festival. Tulip garden displays of more than 100,000 tulip blooms are coupled with life music performances, street vendors, the “Scrubbing of the Streets” by wooden shoe clad Dutch girls, a Royal Tulip Ball, and crowning of the 17th annual Mother of the Year award.
Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan
The ties between the Netherlands and Holland, Michigan run deep and are proudly celebrated each spring with the Annual Tulip Time celebration. This festival that runs from May 2-9, 2015 is the 86th celebration and one of the biggest and most fun in the United States. Gardens in Holland erupt in color with the blooming of more than 4.5 MILLION tulips blooms. Located south of Grand Rapids on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, Holland fills a full week with Dutch entertainment including multiple parades, Dutch dance in the streets, a Kinderparade with 7,000 school children dressed in Dutch costumes, Music Parade with 4,000 participants, Delft art classes, Dutch food at the Marktplaats, Wooden Shoe carving, floral classes, beer tents and so much more! Don wooden shoes and join “Klomp The Record”, this year’s attempt to break the world record for wooden shoe dancers.
Pella and Orange City, Iowa Tulip Festivals
Some of the longest running Tulip Festivals in the United States take place in Iowa. This year Pella celebrates it’s 80th Tulip Time festival on May 7-9, 2015, and Orange City celebrates 75 years of remembering their roots on May 14-16, 2015. Each year Pella becomes a quaint European Village again with residents dressed in Dutch attire, visits to the Vermeer Dutch Mill, a grand parade, ethnic foods and shops and markets selling traditional Dutch goods and attire. Orange City celebrates with a gala carnival, two parades each day, costumed dances, nightly music performances and a dozen replica windmills throughout the village. Lots of fun for everyone who visits.
Wooden Shoe Farm Tulip Fest , Woodburn, Oregon
For the 30th year, Wooden Shoe Farms in the Woodburn/Canby area of Oregon will open their 40 acres of tulip fields to the public to celebrate spring’s bounty of blooms. With Mt. Hood for it’s backdrop and located just 45 minutes from Portland, the Wooden Shoe Farm is a must see destination in spring. Take a bumpy Cow Train ride through the fields, and visit the “You Pick” areas. The weekend brings Hot Air Balloon Rides, Pony Rides, Craft Markets, Photography Classes, and Easter Egg hunt on April 4th and Farm Dinner In The Field on May 3. The display of tulips in bloom at Wooden Shoe Farm is truly one of the most spectacular anywhere in the world.
Regardless of whether you travel across the world to see the most spectacular spring blooms, or visit gardens in your own town, you will no-doubt want to snap a picture or two of the bright display. Here are tips from professional photographer Lynford Morton on how to take the very best shots of Cherry Blossoms in bloom: http://www.shutterbuglife.com/blog/home/10-cherry-blossom-festival-pictures-you-should-take.html
Photo Source: Google Commons