Cherry blossoms, tulips, lilacs: Flower festival time

Beth J. Harpaz
Associated Press
Holland’s tulip festival includes entertainment, costumes, parades and other activities.

We’re coming up on cherry blossom festivals, tulip time and lilac season. Here’s a look at some of the places that celebrate spring flowers with festivals and other events:

Tulip time

■ You could visit Holland, which hosts a Tulip Time Festival May 5-13. The Michigan city planted 100,000 tulips back in 1929, and the annual celebration of the tulip now includes entertainment, costumes, parades and activities.

■ Or go to the Netherlands to see the Keukenhof gardens in Lisse, which are planted with 7 million flowering bulbs — tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and more — blooming Thursday-May 13.

■ Pella, Iowa, has also been hosting a Tulip Time celebration for decades. Pella’s event is May 3-5, and includes parades, Dutch costumes and performances, a craft and vendor fair, quilt and flower shows in addition to the tulip gardens.

■ The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, based in Mount Vernon in the state of Washington, is scheduled for April 1-30, though the festival’s website notes that the tulips are expected to bloom the last week of March.

Cherry blossoms

■ In Washington, D.C., the projected peak date for cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin was pushed back to March 27-31 due to colder temperatures, with the National Cherry Blossom Festival running Tuesday-April 15. The festival marks the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from a Tokyo mayor to the U.S. capital city.

■ The Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York City also celebrates the blooming of cherry trees that were a gift from the Japanese government. A two-day festival called Sakura Matsuri is planned this year for April 28-29 with some 60 events, including performances by taiko drummers. The garden features a Japanese pond and garden, as well as an esplanade lined with some of its 200 cherry trees.

Tourists view tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and more blooming in the Keukenhof spring garden in Lisse, some 20 kilometers from Amsterdam, Netherlands.

■ Macon, Georgia, claims to be home to 350,000 cherry trees, a phenomenon that began with one tree in the backyard of a local businessman in 1949. The trees will be celebrated through March 25 in what local residents bill as the “pinkest party” on Earth.

■ In Japan, the cherry trees are expected to begin blooming around March 24 in Tokyo and March 27 in Kyoto, according to a forecast on the Japan National Tourism Organization website.

Flower fests elsewhere

■ A lilac festival is held on Mackinac Island June 8-17. Festivities include the coronation of the Lilac Festival Queen and Court, Lilac Festival 10K, horse drawn carriage tours, numerous concerts, wine tastings, A Taste of Mackinac Culinary Event, Mackinac Island Dog and Pony Show, the Lilac Festival Grand Parade and more.

■ In Rochester, New York, the annual Lilac Festival is May 11-20. Organizers say the event draws more than 500,000 people to see not just the largest lilac collection in the U.S., but also music and comedy shows, art exhibits, a race and more. Another

■ Bluebonnet season brings out locals and visitors alike in Texas Hill Country. Typically they bloom the last week of March through April, though, as with all flowers, it can be hard to predict.

■ Walt Disney World’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival runs through May 28 with display gardens, entertainment and more at the theme park just outside Orlando, Florida.