Hirosaki Park—Hirosaki, Japan
The cherry blossom is an extremely important symbol in Japanese culture: the flower's brief bloom symbolizes the fragility, transience and beauty of life. Each year, the Japan Weather Association tracks the peak bloom, and when the trees finally flower, the nation erupts into a celebration known as hanami, where families hold picnics under the blooming branches.
One of the most idyllic places to view the blooms in Japan is in Hirosaki Park, where over one million people enjoy the 2,600 trees each spring. Visitors can stroll through blossom tunnels created by overlapping branches, snap photos in front of the 400-year-old Hirosaki Castle and row rented boats through the petal-dotted moat.
Kungsträdgården Cherry Blossoms—Stockholm, Sweden
Cherry trees line an open plaza in Stockholm's Kungsträdgården (King's Tree Garden), a park in the center of the city that dates back to the Middle Ages. Sixty-three Japanese cherry trees were planted in 1998—each spring, tourists and locals alike take advantage of their beauty by picnicking, strolling or sitting beneath the trees.
Fiesta del Cerezo en Flor—Jerte Valley, Spain
Each spring, Spain's Jerte Valley blossoms with flowers from over two million cherry trees. The sweet cherry varieties grown in the region produce snow white flowers that appear to frost the hillsides. In March, the villages in the valley host the annual Fiesta del Cerezo en Flor, offering markets and exhibitions throughout the area to celebrate the tree's flowers.
Champs de Mars—Paris, France
Cherry trees can be found dotted throughout Paris' parks and neighborhoods, but for prime blossom viewing, head over to the Parc du Champ de Mars, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Here, rows of trees burst into vibrant pinks as the warm weather comes.
Expected peak bloom: Mid-April, 2016
Brooklyn Botanic Garden—Brooklyn, New York
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden boasts 42 different varieties of flowering cherry trees, making it the most diverse collection outside of Japan. Each spring as the trees blossom, the garden hosts Sakura Matsuri, a cherry blossom festival with over 60 performances celebrating contemporary and classical Japanese culture.
Expected peak bloom: Late March through mid-May. (Check the Brooklyn Botanic Garden CherryWatch page for updates)
Germany's largest hanami takes place each year in Hamburg. In the 1960s, Hamburg's large Japanese population began planting cherry trees along the banks of Alster Lake. In 1968, the city took its appreciation to the next level, launching Kirschblütenfest, which happens each year in May. The festival includes spectacular fireworks, the election of a "Cherry Blossom Princess" and Japanese Culture Day, which features foodstalls, martial arts performances and educational exhibits.
Expected peak bloom: Mid-to-late May, 2016
Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival—Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver is home to over 37,000 cherry trees, gifted to the city by Japan. The first Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, was held in 2006. The festival, Canada's only official cherry blossom festival, features art performances, film screenings and an annual haiku competition, as well as the chance to marvel at the beautiful blossoms.
Botanical Garden of Curitiba—Curitiba, Brazil
Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan—and this influx of Japanese culture brought with it beautiful cherry trees, especially in the south. In Curitiba, the capital of the state of Paraná, Japanese cherry trees line the walkways of the Botanical Garden of Curitiba, and additional trees are scattered throughout the city, making Curitiba one of the best places in South America to see cherry blossoms.
Expected peak bloom: Late June to early July, 2016
State Capitol State Park—Salem, Oregon
45 miles south of Portland sits the capital of Oregon, Salem, also known as the Cherry City, a nod to the cherry orchards that once surrounded the valley town. Nowadays, the only remnant of Salem's once-bustling cherry business is the double row of cherry trees which line the State Capitol State Park, outside of Oregon's capitol building.
Expected peak bloom: Late March to early April, 2016
National Cherry Blossom Festival—Washington, DC
Back in 1910, Japan gave 2,000 cherry trees to Washington, DC. Those trees contracted disease and died—but that setback didn't deter cherry-blossom-relations between America and Japan. Instead, they tried again in 1912, sending 3,000 trees to Washington, D.C. Those trees remain today and are celebrated each year with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, held over a five week period on the National Mall. This year's event, includes a kite festival, fireworks and a parade. Even if you can't make it to Washington to see the blooms, you can watch them via the Blossom Cam.
Peak bloom: March 25, 2016. (Flowers visible through end of March.)
National Cherry Blossom Festival: March 20-April 17, 2016