The Best Places To See Cherry Blossoms Across Canada
After a long winter, Canadians are eager to put a spring in their step. The gorgeous cherry blossoms at these ten destinations will do exactly that.
Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Canada
No flower represents the transitory beauty of spring quite like the cherry blossom. These delicate rosy-white blooms are a symbol of renewal and the fleeting nature of life. And they are indeed fleeting themselves, generally lasting no more than two weeks—but what a two weeks it is! From the earliest tight buds to the final days when falling petals turn the ground pink, walking among the cherry blossoms is an ethereal experience. In Canada, their season generally stretches from late April to early May but can vary depending on region and climate conditions.
Here are ten beautiful cherry blossom destinations to add to your travel list.
Photo: The Artona Group
Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver is a dream location for anyone who loves cherry blossoms. In the early 1930s, the city received hundreds of trees as a thank you to the Japanese-Canadians who served in World War I. Now Vancouver is home to an incredible 40,000 trees! You can find the trees in the city’s many parks and gardens and celebrate the blooms at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs this year from April 1st to 23rd.
“We’re so happy to be able to reconnect safely…in our gorgeous parks and gardens to share the joy of cherry blossoms and our programming with everyone again,” says Linda Poole, the festival’s artistic creative director. “Know that there are no strangers under the cherry blossoms!”
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Photo: City of Burlington
Burlington boasts three superb spots to admire cherry blossoms. Spencer Smith Park is home to 50 trees donated by Itabashi, Burlington’s sister city in Japan. The trees are planted in such a way that they form a tunnel around the walking path. Add in the fact that it’s right next to Lake Ontario and you have one of the most mesmerizing spots in the city. Other captivating spots include Itabashi Way, a suburban street with cherry trees and lovely residential gardens, and the Royal Botanical Gardens, home to cherry trees, crabapples, lilacs, and magnolias.
Come May 14 this year, visitors can enjoy the Sakura Festival (the Japanese word for cherry trees). “We are delighted put on a live, in-person Sakura Festival this year,” says Rob Lyng, chair of the Burlington Itabashi Subcommittee. “We have a great line-up of performers and look forward to a wonderful afternoon of Japanese music and dance.”
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Every August, the tiny community of Bruno hosts one of Canada’s tastiest festivals. Cherry Sunday lauds the delicious sour cherry with pies and jams a’plenty. The event takes place on the grounds of a former convent and girls’ school, a property that once served as a satellite campus for the University of Saskatchewan. Faculty from the horticulture department saw the potential for a demonstration orchard on the property grounds. Dwarf sour cherry trees, tough enough to handle the local winters, thrived and their success launched this unique festival.
Visitors will enjoy Cherry Park on Main Street, as well as the many residential home gardens which sport a tree or two. “Like the air we breathe and the living skies above us, the spring cherry blossoms are part of our landscape,” says Debbie Kramer, a councillor with the Town of Bruno.
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Hamilton shares the Royal Botanical Gardens with Burlington and also boasts several other cherry blossom sites. Bayfront Park is home to a walkway which is lined with cherry trees, a gift from Japan in 2002. Gage Park is a delightful destination for flower lovers. In addition to mature cherry trees, it features a tropical greenhouse and a rose garden. Finally, Centennial Park, near Dundas, is home to 37 cherry trees, a gift from Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin School in Japan whose founder, Martha Cartmell, was a Canadian missionary.
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Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria is one of Canada’s prettiest cities and its springtime flowers are equally enchanting. Fans of cherry blossoms will want to check out James Bay, Beacon Hill Park, and South Turner Street (among other gorgeous destinations). The Butchart Gardens is another knockout spot, offering visitors the chance to view more than 900 plant varieties over 55 acres, including an opulent Japanese garden featuring blue poppies, rhododendrons, azaleas, and maples.
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Come spring, Toronto is absolutely awash with pink blooms. High Park is one of the most popular spots to see the flowering trees. There’s even a website dedicated to tracking their progress. Torontonians are obsessed with the site’s “Sakura Watch” which maps every aspect of the trees’ progress, from early buds to falling petals. These particular trees are near and dear to local hearts, as the first one was a gift from the people of Tokyo in 1959. Over the years, more than 2,000 trees have been given to Toronto as thanks for accepting relocated Japanese-Canadians following World War II. Other spectacular Toronto destinations include Birkdale Ravine and Centennial Park, home to nearly 500 trees. You can see a full list of cherry tree locations on the City of Toronto website.
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After a chilling Quebec winter, it’s possible that Montrealers love seeing spring cherry blossoms more than anyone else. The Montreal Botanical Garden should be a blossoms-lovers first stop. It hosts an annual O-Hanami, a traditional Japanese custom of enjoying spring with picnics and parties. It takes place underneath the cherry trees (though it sometimes moved to the crabapple trees if the cherries don’t bloom in time).
Other excellent locations to see the blooms include Parc Jean Drapeau (the L’Homme statue by the water is a great place for photos), Nature Park of Île-de-la-Visitation, Avenue McGill College (where pink tulips are usually planted, making this an especially pretty spot), and Westmount Park.
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Mississauga’s Kariya Park celebrates the city’s relationship with its twin city in Japan, Kariya. The park is home to 65 cherry trees. Their gorgeous blooms are enhanced by the park’s Japanese-style garden. Some of the attractions include red Japanese maples, a marsh containing Japanese irises, and a large assortment of rhododendrons, pines, ginkgos, and sweetgum trees. Art fans will appreciate the intricately carved friendship bell, a mosaic-style mural, and a stone basin carved by Kariya sculptor Fumio Naito. In past years, a webcam has been set up for virtual visitors to enjoy the blooms.
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Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
The Dartmouth Common and nearby Park Avenue has been described as “an Instagram paradise” and “being immersed in a spring fantasy” during cherry blossom season. More than 30 cherry trees line the street and (in pre-COVID times), Park Avenue residents have even come together to have a community dinner under the blooms. It’s a tradition that’s likely to continue, as the municipality is actively planting new cherry saplings to replace more mature trees approaching the end of their life cycle. For everyone not living on Park Avenue, a great alternative is Doraku. One of the city’s most popular Japanese restaurants, it’s less than a block from the blossoms.
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The Dominion Arboretum, part of the Central Experimental National Historic Site, is awash with pink blossoms every spring. However, not all of the pink trees are cherry trees. This 35-acre space is home to a gorgeous collection of “Rosybloom” crabapple blooms, which are sometimes mistaken as cherries. Richard Hinchcliff, editor of the Friends of the Central Experimental Farm newsletter, reports that a May 1949 editorial in the Ottawa Journal describes the trees’ beauty in these terms: “Those who have seen Washington’s famous cherry trees in the spring say these humble crabapples match them for beauty.”
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