Every spring, Vancouverites thrill to the signs that winter is coming to a close: flowers bloom at the Top 5 Vancouver Gardens and Vancouver's 40,000 cherry trees blossom in a sea of pink and white.
In April, Vancouver celebrates spring and its cherry trees with the city-wide, month-long Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (VCBF). This year, the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival runs from April 4 - 30, 2013.
The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is a non-profit festival created in 2005 by Vancouverite Linda Poole. Growing up in Vancouver, Ms. Poole always loved the city's spring cherry trees; when she learned about the age-old Sakura Festivals in Japan and that many of Vancouver's cherry trees originated as gifts from Japan, creating the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival seemed like the "perfect way to express our gratitude for this generous gift and to celebrate the beauty and joy [the cherry trees] bring to everyone."
Steadily growing since its inception, the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival comprises a wide array of events, most of which are free.
Major Events at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2013
VCBF 2013 kicks off with a free day of fun in downtown Vancouver, where festivities include cooking demos, Umbrella Dance lessons, and a free outdoor music concert.
Everyone can enjoy touring Vancouver's cherry blossoms for free, using VCFB's Blooming Now and Cherry Viewing Map to plan a bike trip or walking/driving tour.
One of the best and most popular VCBF events happens at Vancouver's gorgeous VanDusen Botanical Garden: the annual Sakura Days Japan Fair. This two-day festival-within-a-festival celebrates Japanese cultural arts, performances and traditions with an authentic Japanese tea ceremony, festival food, ikebana (flower arranging), premium sake tastings, guided "tree talks and walks," Haiku Invitational readings, Japanese classical dance, taiko drumming, the Cherry Blossom Dance, martial arts performances, and more.
There is a price for performing in the Cherry Blossom Umbrella Dance Flash Mob (the dance is open to anyone; details here), but it's 100% free to watch the Flash Mob in action on April 13 in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver.
One of the most unique and beloved VCBF traditions is its Haiku Invitational, where anyone can submit up to two haikus about their love of cherry blossoms. Winning haikus are published in Haiku Canada, Rice Paper, Ripples, and on the VCBF website; top poems will also appear on TransLink SkyTrains and buses throughout Metro Vancouver!