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Spring is in the air and the cherry trees are in full bloom. Here are the best spots to check out these ephemeral flowers during the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival
Every year in April, Vancouver’s 37,000 cherry trees bloom and the city dons a pretty, pink cloak of blossoms. Many of Vancouver’s cherry trees were gifts from Japan in the 1930s, honouring the soldiers who died during WWI.
The frilly flowers became a symbol of Vancouver spring, and thousands more were cultivated in parks, along roadways and in private gardens.
Today, Vancouver’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival, including a flash mob and foodie events, rivals the sakura (cherry blossom) festivities in Kyoto. But the simplest way to celebrate is to head out and view the blooms.
Stanley Park is the original Vancouver cherry blossom location, with over a dozen Shirotae cherry trees adorning the Japanese Canadian WWI war memorial.
The park's Rose Garden is another ideal destination for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) with rows of Yoshino and Akebono trees shedding a pale-pink carpet of petals, and is a lovely spot for picnicking.
There’s no doubt that UBC’s Nitobe Memorial Garden is authentic: "I am in Japan," said the Crown Prince (now Emperor) of Japan as he walked through it. The garden is considered to be the one of the top five Japanese gardens outside of Japan.
The exquisitely designed, harmonious, two-and-a-half acre space includes blossoming cherry trees alongside a reflecting pond, and a rare authentic tea garden with a ceremonial teahouse. The garden honours Inazo Nitobe (1862-1933).
You’ll spot another memorial to Nitobe – his portrait – on the 5000-yen note.
Beachfront Kitsilano boasts several ballerina-blush pockets of cherry trees. Stroll through Kitsilano Beach Park where clusters of mature Yoshino trees do their thing.
The blossoms continue up the Yew Street strip, incorporating Kanzan cherry trees.
With the ample cafe choices on Yew, your best bet is to grab a latte + sweet and continue along the beach toward the Museum of Vancouver and Vanier Park, where the blossom density increases and benches abound.
The 130-acre Queen Elizabeth Park is arguably the finest place to doze under fragrant, pink clouds, and boasts several varieties of cherry trees that bloom March-May.
While the sheer number of trees makes this a desirable destination, the park also boasts the ultimate hanami experience, Vancouver’s largest cherry tree: The Great One.
Vancouver’s public garden scene is highly competitive and the gem in the collection is VanDusen Botanical Garden, one of the top 10 public gardens in North America.
This living museum of plants has 100 flowering cherry trees with 24 different varieties – the most you’ll find in any one place. The garden’s user-friendly map helps you find a tree species by location, from Tahaku (Great White) to Pendula Rosea (Weeping Higan) cherry trees.
For overall impact, visit the David C. Lam Cherry Grove, named for BC’s former Lieutenant Governor – a gardener with an ardor for the cherry tree.