Flashback Friday: Cherry Blossom Festivals

I apologize for the lack of posts in the past week. Lack of internet access in the most connected country in the world, holidays, and hospital visits have had me slacking! I return with a Flashback Friday post dedicated to cherry blossoms in honor of my trek down to Gyeongju this weekend in hopes of finding some more of these famous flowers.

I attended my first cherry blossom festival in 2010 in Washington, DC. I was living in Philadelphia at the time and had always wanted to see the blossoms in our nation’s capital. So, when I happened to have the Friday of the festival off I decided to make the 2 hour drive south and check this off the old bucket list.

In March 1912 the mayor of Tokyo gave the city of Washington these cherry trees as a gift to represent the growing closeness of the two countries. Now, every spring a festival is held to commemorate this offering. The peak blooming dates vary by year, so if you are considering taking a trip make sure you do some research ahead of time. The best time to see the cherry blossoms in Washington DC is usually the very end of March or beginning of April, but depending on the weather it can change. For example, this year the blooms were at their peak on March 20, weeks earlier than the average due to some unseasonably warm weather. The National Park Service has a great site, complete with a live Cherry Blossom webcam, that can help you accurately plan your visit.

On this first Friday of April in 2010 I headed straight to the Tidal Basin after arriving in the DC metro area. This is the best place to catch the blooms due to the abundance of trees and great photo opportunities with the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument. It really is beautiful, especially in the evening as the setting sun begins to reflect on the monuments and the water, providing the perfect backdrop for photographing the flowers. The crowds here can be rather large, though, so if you can, try to go on a weekday when there aren’t quite as many people.

After you’ve seen enough of the trees around the Tidal Basin, take a walk through the mall. It’s a great place to relax, and you’ll probably spot a few more trees there as well.

How to get to there? Take the Blue Line or Orange line to the Smithsonian Stop. It’s about a half mile walk from there.

Last year I checked out the Yeouido Spring Flower Festival in Seoul. This island in the Han River is known for its concentration of cherry blossom trees that begin to bloom in early to mid April. I wrote one of my first blog posts about this festival last year.

The best place to spot the blossoms is on the street behind the National Assembly building, called Yunjungno. In 2012 the festival will be held from April 13-17 (so, if you’re looking for something to do in Seoul this weekend, check it out!), but like all flower festivals, the dates change every year depending on the weather. In addition to the flowers you can see some traditional Korean dance performances and try a variety of Korean street food snacks.

This festival will be extremely crowded, with thousands of people cramming into this small street and surrounding the trees for the perfect photo opp. The scenery and flowers are definitely worth battling the masses but if you need a break from the action, walk along the nearby Han River for a bit where you can get a nice view of the city with far fewer people.

How to get there? Take Line 9 to National Assembly Station and go out Exit 1. Or a sightly further, but still convenient, way is to take Line 5 or Line 9 to Yeouido Station, go out Exit 2, and walk through the park toward the river.

I’m generally not a flower enthusiast, but I love a good reason to get outside when the weather first turns warm. Cherry blossom festivals provide a great way to get excited about spring. I’m hoping the ones in Gyeongju live up to their expectations!

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2 Responses to Flashback Friday: Cherry Blossom Festivals

  1. Ooh I LOVE cherry blossoms – both years in Japan I went crazy trying to get to as many good cherry blossom spots as possible in the short season! I will have to try the DC version one day. If only the timing wasn’t so tricky – I remember that from Japan! You just never quite know!

    • Amanda Slavinsky says:

      They are amazing! And everywhere you see the blossoms they seem a little bit different. It’s such a springtime treat!

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