Cherry blossoms in New York City? A sure sign of the start of spring. At the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, they celebrate the blossoms during the annual festival, also known as Sakura Matsuri.
The thing about cherry blossoms is that I don't remember seeing them around when I was younger. I do remember seeing buds on our tree when spring started, but they definitely weren't pretty and pink. In Florida, there is no such thing as spring (or fall or winter...), so they don't have them here. I saw them sprouting on the trees in my neighborhood about a month ago and I was really confused, since I thought cherry blossoms were only in D.C.
The Cherry Blossom Festival is held every year in celebration of the beautiful blooms. Japanese tradition celebrates the "beauty and fleeting nature of cherry blossoms." As part of the celebration, visitors see everything from the blossoms (according to the Botanical Gardens, its the largest display in the country) to tea ceremonies, a parasol society fashion show, and a market at the Osborne Garden. There were people in cosplay as different Japanese characters, and many girls dressed in traditional Japanese geisha garb.
I think I came to the Botanical Gardens once when I was 10 years old on a field trip. To be honest, it may have been somewhere else, but we definitely didn't take the subway there. The Botanical Gardens are located right near the Brooklyn Museum, and it's easily accessible by subway. I try not to spend money on cabs whenever possible, so the easier it is to get somewhere by mass transit, the better.
I knew that it would be crowded, but there were really so many people at the festival! The cool thing though, is that the gardens are large enough that you don't feel overcrowded. I had to wait in a long line to get in, but it moved really quickly. Since the festival is only 2 days long, they have a really good system in place, with plenty of people to ask for help to get inside as quickly as possible.
When I got to the festival, there was a small performance happening on stage. I tried to watch for a little bit, but there was such a crowd of people that I couldn't see much. This is one of those events where it's better to arrive early if you want a good stage view, but not totally required if you're just hanging out like I was.
Sakura Matsuri has a little something for everyone - including the kids! Near the Osborne Garden, they had a bunch of these inflatable chairs set up to sit in. There was also a little stage for performances.
The Cherry Blossom Festival was a cool experience, but I feel like it was one that would be better for groups than it would for one person. I find myself doing many of these bucket list items on my own. While most of them (eating at restaurants, parades, shows, etc.) are fine for a solo trip, I think I would have enjoyed myself more here if I had someone else with me. The festival is great for grabbing a blanket and sitting out in the beautiful weather (um, I guess even today when it was 55 out), which is a little lonely on your own.
I had a good time at Sakura Matsuri, but I do have to question whether it was worth it. The celebration of Japanese culture was cool to see, but I see cherry blossoms every day when I'm walking to the train station. At $30 for admission, the festival may be a little pricey. I wanted to see everything, but I'm not sure if I would pay again next year when there are cherry blossoms everywhere in the city. I am looking forward to going back to the Botanical Gardens to see everything else - there are so many beautiful flowers and plants on display!