Festivals In Focus: The Cherry Blossom Celebration

Spring is in full bloom. Can you feel it? Have you seen it? We’ll show you the way. 

Each spring season, the landscape of New Haven softens to welcome delicate petals and sprawling forest green leaves. Nowhere in our city is this on a more magnificent display than the blooming pink Yoshino Cherry Blossom Trees that return our greens each year. The fledgling blooms are welcomed by a time-honored New Haven tradition, The Cherry Blossom Celebration, which celebrates the local community, the mystery of nature, and the connection between the two. 

2023 marks the 50th Anniversary Cherry Blossom Celebration in Wooster Square Park, where nature loving residents return each year to honor the beauty of these trees, swimming in the “pink snow” of fallen buds. This year, the Wooster Square Cherry Blossom Committee will welcome residents and visitors from across New England to the festival, which will take place on Sunday, April 16, from 12:00 pm to 4:30 pm.  

New Haven’s Cherry Blossom Festival began half a century ago as a quaint neighborhood gathering to commemorate the initial planting of 72 Yoshino Cherry Blossom Trees on Hughes Street and around Wooster Square Park. The Yoshino Cherry is a species most notable for their vibrant pink and white blooms in Spring and was the first of its kind to be planted in America circa 1902.  

In Japan, the celebration of blooming cherry blossoms is a time-honored tradition, held up for centuries. The trees’ exotic branching patterns showcase the almond-scented, pale pink petals that have been so revered by nature novices and enthusiasts alike. With cherries too bitter to be consumed, the tree’s blossoms are the true star of the show. The Yoshino Cherry is one of the first cherry trees to bloom each season, marking the beginning of spring. The spirit of Japanese “hanami,” which translates to “flower viewing,” inspires our annual celebration in Wooster Square. 

This year, the New Haven Cherry Blossom Festival will be making space for art appreciation. While we’re marveling in the beauty of the natural ecosystem, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the vibrant cultural ecosystem of our city. Join us in the Engagement Zone, sponsored by Yale University. The Engagement Zone will amplify the celebration’s impact as an arts supporting organization by promoting arts organizations in the greater New Haven area. Arts organizations were some of the most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – fueled by Yale’s sponsorship, we are working to help them thrive in the future. Meet the talents behind A Broken Umbrella Theatre, Elm Shakespeare Company, Music Haven, and more. 

Come join us under the cherry blossoms, and come hungry! This year’s festival will feature live music from local artists Airborne, St. Luke’s Steel Band, and the 11-piece band, Carlos Santiago y Su Momento. Along the border of the park, find a line of local food trucks, serving up a wide variety of cuisine all day long. From grilled cheeses from Crispy Melty, to fresh smoothies from Cultured Café, to vegan dishes from Soulfully Vegan, there’s something for everyone to indulge in. Abate Apizza, Cast Iron Chef, Bear’s Smokehouse, The Jitter Bus, Many Donuts, Holy Guacamole, La Matai, La Carreta, Olmo, Regional Water Authority Water Truck, Szabo’s Seafood, Swagat, The Kettle King and Ben & Jerry’s will all be in attendance. 

Will we be seeing you?