Finally, spring is oficially here! As the the rainy season fades, Vancouver packs away its coat and takes its turn in the spotlight thanks to 55 varieties of cherry blossom trees, creating a wonderful sea of pink and white. Like they do every spring, the pink blossoms suddenly emerge, and for a brief moment Vancouverites pause and marvel at the yearly renewal of nature.
The Japanese cherry blossom tree does not yield fruit like other cherry trees, and why should this born aristocrat produce a market crop anyway when its single mission is to be beautiful? We collected some interesting facts about cherry trees and cherries to share before we all go outside to celebrate this natural phenomenon.
There are 40,000 cherry trees in Vancouver (37,000 cherry trees were gifted from Japan, and in 2010, the city planted 3,000 new cherry blossom trees in celebration of Vancouver’s 125th birthday).
- This year, Japan’s representative tree ended up opening already on March 16, setting a new record for earliest opening since the beginning of the record taking in 1953.
- Canada holds the record for baking the biggest (18 kilograms) cherry pie in the world.
- The world’s heaviest cherry was grown in Italy and weighed 21.69 grams.
- It takes 250 cherries to make a cherry pie.
- A single slice of a cherry pie prepared from a recipe contains 486 calories.
- According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the record distance in cherry-pit spitting is 28.51 metres.
- A cherry fruit is packed full of healthy nutrients and unique antioxidants.
Cherries by jayneandd
- Cherries can relieve pain, help you avoid premature aging, fight diseases, help you sleep, or add years to your life.
- The double-petal blossoms are preserved in salt for making a refreshing drink called akura-ya served on felicitous occasions by floating a few blossoms in a cup of hot water.
Cherry blossom trees were gifted to the City of Vancouver in the early 1930s to honour the Japanese-Canadian soldiers who fought in World War I. Vancouver was given another gift of cherry blossom trees in 1958 to symbolize the friendship between Japan and Canada. The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is a perfect way to express gratitude for this gift and to celebrate the beauty and joy the cherry trees bring to Vancouverites.
Like every year, the festival introduces many interesting events like dances, art classes, bike rides, and lunches to celebrate the blooming. Events take place from April 4 to 30 at various locations. You don´t want to miss the following events!
Plein-Air Blossom Painting
Saturdays, April 7–28, 11:00 AM–2:00 PM
VanDusen Botanical Garden
Plein-air instructors will lead watercolour, pastel, oil, and acrylic painters in art-making sessions right inside the garden, helping painters to capture the garden’s cherry trees and other plants in their work.
Cherry Jam Downtown
Thursday, April 5, 12:00 PM–1:30 PM
Burrard Skytrain station (there will be a new installation created by a team of local architects involving balloons and haikus)
The official festival kick-off will be a rockin’ good time with performances that honour Vancouver’s multicultural heritage. As a preparation for the grand happening, the Shiamak Vancouver Performance Team will be giving free World Umrella Dance lessons under the Burrard SkyTrain Station cherry blossom trees from 11:30 to noon. Don’t forget to pick up your bento box lunch from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM created by Master Chef Hidekazu Tojo and other local chefs.
Tree Talks & Walks
Various times and locations (check the schedule)
Nine walks through some of Vancouver’s spectacular spring gardens are led by notable tree enthusiasts who help visitors find the city’s most beautiful blooms, talk about their origins, and help identify different varieties.
Sakura Days Japan Fair
Saturday and Sunday, April 6 and 7, 10:00 AM–5:00 PM
VanDusen Botanical Garden
Celebrate Vancouver’s longtime friendship with Japan at this family-friendly festival within a festival. Don’t miss tea ceremonies, the Haiku Invitational reading, ikebana, sake tasting, anime, taiko drumming, Japanese cuisine, hands-on workshops, and much more.
Bike the Blossoms
Saturday, April 28, 10:30 AM
China Creek Park South
Visitors are invited to view the cherry trees from atop two wheels. Join Velopalooza for a guided ride that weaves through Vancouver’s most blossom-laden neighbourhoods.
Cherry Blossom Flash Mob
Saturday April 14, 2012, 2:00 PM
Vancouver Art Gallery, Georgia side
It wouldn’t be a flash mob if we gave away the details. Wait for it, it will be a surprise!
2013 Haiku Invitational
Submissions accepted until June 4
Let your creativity bloom witnessing the bloom of cherry blossoms. Poets and non-poets alike are invited to submit haikus on the subject to festival organizers. The winning poets’ works will be published on the festival’s website.
Vancouver Cherry Blossom Tree Festival
Don’t forget to check the map that shows where to find trees and when they are in bloom. Bring your camera with you, take some photos, and don’t forget to share them with us!