Save the dates! The official dates for the 2017 Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival have been officially announced by the Essex County Dept. of Parks as shown above. Arguably the most beautiful spring event in the NYC metro area, the Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the spring bloom season of more than 4000 cherry blossom trees in Branch Brook Park. The first county park in the United States, Branch Brook Park is located in the North Ward section of Newark, with a portion that extends into the township of Belleville.
Cherry Blossom Watch Update Saturday, April 29, 2017: The cherry blossom season is well past peak. However, you can still see a few late blooming pink cherry blossoms throughout the park. Visit the Branch Brook Park Live Cherry Blossom Webcam for a live bird’s-eye view of the cherry blossoms.
The cherry blossom display in Essex County Branch Brook Park is larger than the national display in Washington, DC and is the most diverse collection of cherry blossom varieties in the world. The 14 varieties of cherry blossom trees offer blooms that range in color from white to pink. it is an unforgettable spectacle that draws thousands of eager visitors every year.
Here is the event schedule planned for the cherry blossom festival. For more details you may also visit the official Branch Brook Park website. More details will be added as they are released:
The festive highlight of the Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival is Bloomfest, Sunday, April 23, a day of live performances and attractions in Branch Brook Park. Bloomfest 2017, will be held in Essex County Branch Brook Park, Cherry Blossom Welcome Center Extension, Belleville/Newark, on Sunday, April 23 from 11 am-5pm. Bloomfest attracts over 7,000 attendees from New Jersey and surrounding metropolitan areas for stage performances, cultural demonstrations, and children’s activities.
The Bloomfest marketplace features crafters and artists selling handmade, cherry blossom themed crafts and products. Bloomfest is held rain or shine. This years’ Bloomfest will feature a packed schedule of events includes the always popular Japanese cultural demonstrations, children’s activities, live music, a crafter’s marketplace, food, and more! Events are held at the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center and the Prudential Concert Grove.
Held on Saturday, April 8, the Cherry Blossom Challenge Bike Race takes place on the oval in the northern section of Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ.
The Children’s One-Mile Fun Run/Walk will be held on Saturday, April 22nd from 10am to 11am in the southern division of the Branch Brook Park. More than 1,000 children aged 6 through 14 ran through Branch Brook Park in 2016 to celebrate the blooming of the historic cherry tree groves. Many stayed for the afternoon Family Day event activities held directly after in the Prudential Concert Grove section of Branch Brook Park.
Family Fun Day is held on Saturday, April 22nd, from 11 am – 3 pm in Essex County Branch Brook Park, Concert Grove, Southern Division, Park Street Entrance, Newark. This is a free family event! Enjoy an afternoon of live performances, family activities and food vendors.
Of course, the star attraction of this event will always be the beautifully adorned cherry blossom trees. Japanese cherry blossoms predominate among the more than 4000 cherry blossom trees in the park. Their large white blossoms put on quite a show and are the most prominent feature of the bloom season. However, the addition of flowering Yoshino, Higan and Fuji cherries add blooms that range from pink to white in color. This variety also extends the blooming season to two weeks or more.
Thousands of visitors, both local and international, converge on the park every April to see the first reddish-white flowers bloom on the trees. The celebration of the start of the cherry blossom bloom season has been a longstanding Essex County tradition. The festival is a point of pride for Belleville, which identifies itself as the “Cherry Blossom Capital of America.” Cherry blossoms are a wonderful testimony to our loving Creator, who has made all things on earth for our benefit and endless delight.
The best way to answer that question is to visit the Branch Brook Park Cherry Blossom Webcam (follow this link). This webcam shows the cherry blossom trees live in front of the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center and is a great way to determine how the trees will look on the day of your visit.
We have something in common with China. They are also celebrating a cherry blossom festival during the month of April! The photo below is from an article on Time.com (Time magazine) showing beautiful aerial photography of cherry blossoms from various cities Chinese cities this month. Follow this link to see more photos of China’s cherry blossoms.
I have been photographing the Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival for nearly a decade! Some of my most popular photos from Cherry Blossom Festivals are shown on this page. I will be making these images available as free high-resolution downloads during the festival in 2017!
I created a set of free cherry blossoms wallpaper to celebrate the Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival in sizes for both computers and smartphones. Visit this page to download your cherry blossom wallpaper!
All photographs on this page are by Don Peterson.
Branch Brook Park is distinguished by being the first county park to be opened for public use in the United States. It has been placed on both the New Jersey (1980) and National (1981) Registers of Historic Places. Located in the City of Newark and bordered at the northern end by U.S. Route 280, the park crosses Bloomfield Avenue, Park Avenue, and Heller Parkway, terminating just across the Newark/Belleville border.
The park is nearly 4 miles long and averages 1/4 mile in width. At 359.72 acres, it is the largest developed park in the County. It is featured by a combination of open meadowland and small patches of woodland on gently rolling terrain. Named for a branch brook that flowed through the valley into the Passaic River, the park was originally intended to remain in its natural state, but today is used largely for athletics activities.
More than 4,000 cherry trees that blossom during April are greater both in variety and number than the famed Washington, D.C., display–a tradition that began with a 1927 gift from the Bamberger and Mrs. Felix Fuld family. In fact, the park has the largest collection of Japanese flowering trees in one location in the United States. The blooming of cherry blossoms in Japanese culture represents the end of winter and the beginning of new life and the start of the spring growing season.
In Japan, cherry blossom festivals are celebrated under the trees with elaborate tea ceremonies along with singing and dancing. The life cycle of a cherry blossom lasts about two weeks. It is said that the Japanese see the short lifespan of the cherry blossoms as a metaphor for their lives.
For the past four years, a volunteer crew of master gardeners from Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Essex County has taken on the task of maintaining the cherry trees, pruning hundreds of the park’s current inventory of 4,300 cherry trees and donating hundreds of hours of volunteer labor. The cherry tree project began in 2011 as a way for the Rutgers master gardeners to learn about ornamental trees while fulfilling the community service requirements for all trainees or certified Rutgers Master Gardeners. But the original group Cowie trained “got hooked” and adopted the Branch Brook Park in Newark, said Jan Zientek, senior program coordinator of Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Extension Station – Cooperative Extension in Essex County.
Branch Brook Park is a pleasant year-round open space that is also known for its resplendent fall color. With its lakes, ponds, athletic fields and trails, it offers an urban oasis for all who enter it.