Cherry Blossom Season Is Here: A Global Guide to Sakura Spotting

Whether you’re an eternal optimist or have a heart of stone, the charm of these pink petals is irresistible.

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Ah, the cherry blossom—Mother Earth’s playful wink to spring, an oh-so-brief dance of pink and white that ensnares both hearts and cameras. These botanical celebrities give the tulips of the Netherlands and the lavender fields of France a run for their money, captivating onlookers worldwide. In the bustling streets of major cities like Washington, D.C., and the serene landscapes of Japan, they are more than mere flora; they embody deep cultural emblems of ephemeral beauty and the inexorable march of time, urging us to savor the now before it vanishes.

The excitement for D.C.'s cherry blossom season (which, in 2023, drew over one million spectators) is already in full swing, with the National Park Service pinpointing March 23 to 26 for peak bloom. Throngs of visitors descend upon the nation’s capital, hoping to catch the mesmerizing sight of soft petals set against historic landmarks. Yet, the whims of Mother Nature can quickly disrupt this floral extravaganza with a mere gust, underscoring the fragile beauty of these ephemeral blooms. In the U.S., the cherry blossom tale extends beyond D.C.; Macon, Georgia, claims the title of "Cherry Blossom Capital of the World," with a staggering 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees that transform the city into a pink paradise each spring. While Japan is the undisputed leader in hanami (“flower viewing”), the U.S. offers a plethora of popular spots to bask in the glory of springtime, from Brooklyn Botanic Garden's array of blossoms to the University of Washington's picturesque quad.

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Climate change is crashing the cherry blossom viewing party early in Tokyo, turning the sakura season's schedule on its head. Gone are the days of marking your calendar for early April; now, the blooms are gossiping about making their grand entrance as soon as March 17. The cherry blossom forecast is a not-so-subtle nudge for us to stop and smell the roses—or, well, cherry blossoms—while we still can. For the doomscrolling crowd, this unpredictability just adds to the cherry blossoms' allure, serving as a poetic reminder that the best things in life are fleeting. Whether you're an eternal optimist or have a heart of stone, the charm of these pink petals is irresistible. So, buckle up for a petal-powered adventure to the globe's best cherry blossom hotspots, from Kyoto's spellbinding gardens to Bonn's postcard-perfect streets.

Washington, D.C.

March marches in, and D.C.'s cherry blossoms are set to steal the show between March 23 and 26, as per the National Park Service's Bloom Watch. But if you're not keen on battling the Tidal Basin crowds, fear not. We've got the inside scoop on where to catch these beauties in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, but without the jostling.  Kick things off with Casey Trees, a D.C.-based arboreal advocate, which offers an interactive app with a self-guided three-mile tour around town. For a more exclusive blossom bash, make a beeline to the Arboretum. This botanical bonanza is a must-see, boasting over 70 varieties of cherry blossoms, from the punchy pink Okame to the gracefully drooping weepers.

For a more laid-back vibe, saunter over to Stanton Park in Capitol Hill. This four-acre floral haven is perfect for a leisurely picnic, with a playground to keep the little ones entertained amid the blushing cherry trees. And if you're itching to get a jump on the Tidal Basin blooms, the National Cathedral's grounds are your go-to spot. With an eclectic mix of cherry blossoms, including some early risers, you can stroll through a pink canopy of Higan, Taiwan, Kwanzan and Yoshino trees for a floral fever dream. As peak travel season blooms, take advantage of festive hotel packages and events like the "Bloomaroo At The Wharf" from the Pendry Washington D.C. or the Cherry Blossom Package at Fairmont Washington D.C. Georgetown. It might not be a Japanese onsen-ryokan, but it’s still nice! 

Washington, D.C. cherry blossoms. Andy He

Macon, Georgia

Macon's cherry blossom story is a tale of serendipity and generosity. It all started in 1949, when resident William A. Fickling, Sr. stumbled upon a Yoshino cherry tree in his backyard, a rarity in the South at the time. A business trip to Washington D.C. later and Fickling's fascination with these blossoms took root; he offered to plant 10,000 trees in a single year, resulting in tens of thousands throughout his lifetime. By 1982, these blossoms had become a cornerstone of Macon culture, giving birth to the now-famous Cherry Blossom Festival.

Kicking off earlier than in chillier climes, mid- to late March in Macon sees a jaw-dropping 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees burst into full bloom, heralding spring with a pink flourish. Dubbed "The Pinkest Party on Earth"—you can tell from the official BloomCam—the festival officially spans from March 15 to 24 in 2024, but the celebrations start brewing way earlier. Macon gets decked out in pink and floral decor, with fountains gushing bright fuchsia, all gearing up for nine days of themed markets, pancake breakfasts, scavenger hunts, golf, a 5K run, fair rides, a ball, a parade, hot-air balloon rides, concerts and more.

Macon, Georgia. Visit Macon


In Japan, cherry blossom season is a full-blown cultural phenomenon known as hanami ("flower viewing"), a tradition that has evolved from regal plum blossom gatherings to a nationwide frenzy, with both local Japanese people and tourists flocking to the most picturesque cherry blossom spots. Revelers convene under the blooming sakura for picnics and saké-soaked festivities, a practice steeped in centuries of history.

The cherry blossom season starts in the south, in the islands like Kyushu and Okinawa, and ends in cooler regions up north, like Sapporo in Hokkaido, where cherry blossoms often bloom from April to early May. Yoshino in Nara Prefecture is Japan’s cherry blossom mecca. Picture over 30,000 sakura trees setting the Kii Mountains ablaze in pink, with the season typically kicking off in late March. The main attraction is a mammoth cherry tree on Mount Yoshino, stooping gracefully earthward. Tokyo's got its own cherry blossom charm—a thousand trees strong—at Ueno Park. Don't skip the Chidorigafuchi Moat near the Imperial Palace for another dose of floral splendor, or Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.

Kyoto, the old-school capital, is the heart of sakura season, with blooms unfurling from late March to early April, a similar time to Osaka’s expected cherry blossom peak. Maruyama Park steals the show with its towering "weeping cherry tree" illuminated at night. For a less crowded experience, Yamashina, in southeast Kyoto, boasts nearly 700 trees lining the canals. And for a truly unique view, hop on the Sagano Scenic Railway (it’s not as fast as the shinkansen bullet trains, but this is a sightseeing experience) in Arashiyama district, where you'll chug through a tunnel of Japanese cherry blossoms in one psychedelic experience.

Japan. Jonathan Kim

Northern Virginia

Hopping over the Potomac, Northern Virginia is your cherry blossom escape without the D.C. hustle. Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria is a cherry tree hideaway, complete with the blush-pink blooms, plus a kiddie garden and library. Next up, River Farm, also in Alexandria, dishes out historical charm with its cherry tree grove, colorful meadows and a whimsical children's garden on George Washington's old stomping grounds. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna is a 95-acre garden gala, home to about 100 cherry trees in over 20 varieties. Fairfax is the cherry blossom MVP in Northern Virginia, with a lineup of events and tours to spotlight their beauty.

For a splash of adventure, Embark DC in Alexandria offers private cherry blossom boat tours. Tailor your day trip from 1.5 to four hours, with your captain spilling the beans on the Potomac's secrets. Plot a course to George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate or chart your own path to cherry tree landmarks and historic sites.

Northern Virginia. Carol-Jean-Stalun

New York City

You don’t have to visit Japan to see the pink florals—New York City's cherry blossom season turns the Big Apple into a pink paradise from late March to May. Central Park is the go-to spot this time of year, with cherry trees sprinkled between 72nd and 96th Streets, creating the perfect backdrop for leisurely walks and snap-worthy moments. But the cherry blossom magic doesn't stop there. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a cherry blossom utopia with 26 varieties on display, ensuring a non-stop floral show; the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx holds 50 acres worth of 200 flowering cherry trees in the historic landscape. Sakura Park in Morningside Heights brings a historical vibe with trees gifted from Japan in 1912. Check out Riverside Park's Cherry Walk or explore the blossoms at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Randall’s Island Park and newcomer Little Island, which showcases Akebono Yoshino cherry trees amid a medley of spring blooms.

New York City. Atharva Patil

Bonn, Germany

Back in 1980, Bonn, Germany's former capital, got a pink makeover with the planting of cherry blossom trees as part of an urban facelift. Fast forward to today and every April, the Nordstadt neighborhood's cobbled streets transform into stunning cotton candy tunnels. The cherry blossom showstoppers are Heerstrasse (aptly dubbed Cherry Blossom Avenue) and Breite Strasse, where the pastel-pink canopy creates a dreamy tunnel effect. This floral spectacle draws tourists and camera buffs from around the globe, all vying for the ultimate cherry blossom snapshot. Bonn's blooming old town has become a social media sensation, with Heerstrasse often hailed as one of the world's most beautiful avenues. Both spots are a stroll away from Bonn Hauptbahnhof station, a quick train ride from Cologne-Bonn Airport. Pro tip: Hit Cherry Blossom Avenue early in the morning to dodge the crowds and snag those perfect, people-free photos. Post-11 a.m., it's selfie central.

Bonn, Germany. Tim Rüßmann

Toronto, Canada

Toronto's cherry blossom story began in 1959, thanks to a thoughtful gift from Toru Hagiwara, the Japanese ambassador to Canada. To express gratitude to Toronto for welcoming Japanese Canadians after World War II, he presented the city with 2,000 Japanese Somei-Yoshino Sakura trees on behalf of Tokyo's people. Fast forward to today and experts predict that Toronto might witness these blossoms at "peak bloom" a tad later than usual, around mid-April, if the warm weather holds up. However, it's still a guessing game, as January and February's winter weather plays a part, but March's warmth is the real game-changer. If March is balmy, we could see an early bloom; if it's cooler, the blossoms might take their sweet time. Typically, these floral beauties hit their peak, with about 70 percent of their petals unfurled, between late April and mid-May. Right now, they're just budding, but keep an eye out for that first hint of green—that's when things really start to get exciting.

Toronto, Canada. LightRocket via Getty Images

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam's tulips might have some competition, because the city's cherry blossom season is taking center stage from mid-March to early April. Hop on your bike and pedal 40 minutes south from the bustling city center to the serene Amsterdam Forest in Amstelveen. There, you'll stumble upon Kersenbloesempark (Cherry Blossom Park), with 400 sakura trees bestowed a Japanese or Dutch female name, courtesy of the Japanese Women's Club in 2000. For a cherry blossom fix closer to the action, Westerpark is your go-to spot. It's a stone's throw from the city center and offers the perfect backdrop for a leisurely picnic under the fragrant cherry blossoms. Don't forget to swing by the Van Gogh Museum, where you'll find a charming cluster of cherry trees. It's a fitting tribute to Van Gogh's famous almond blossom paintings, and a picturesque addition to your first-time cherry blossom tour.

Kersenbloesempark. Frederick Marschall

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville's cherry blossom tale began in 2008, when the Japanese Consulate-General for the South-Central United States relocated to the city and generously donated 1,000 cherry trees. These trees now adorn the stretch from Nashville's Public Square to the Tennessee State Capitol. The Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival, held on April 13th, offers a 2.5-mile Cherry Blossom Walk to admire these floral gifts in all their glory. Alongside the scenic walk, the festival boasts an array of activities including children's games, martial arts demonstrations, sumo suit wrestling and the adorable "Pups in Pink" parade. Traditional Japanese music and dance performances, as well as stalls serving Japanese delicacies, further enrich the festival experience.

Nashville, Tennessee. Brandon Jean

Copenhagen, Denmark

In Denmark, cherry blossom season is no small affair. The Danes welcome the bloom with a grand two-day Sakura Festival, set for April 20 and 21 in 2024. This celebration occurs in Langelinie Park, a stone's throw from the city center and the iconic Little Mermaid statue. Here, about 200 powder-pink cherry trees, a gift from the Japanese Honorary Consul of Denmark, guide visitors to the majestic Gefion Fountain. Entry to the festival is free, and it's a convivial showcase of Japanese culture. Attendees can experience traditional tea ceremonies, try their hand at haiku and origami in various workshops and indulge in Japanese delicacies like sushi, mochi and sakura-themed treats, as well as take in drum shows, folk dances and martial arts.

Flowers in Copenhagen, Denmark. Anastasiia Andrianova

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