Spring is in the air, cherry trees are nearing peak bloom and this weekend New Yorkers can celebrate the season and its traditions in Prospect Park.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden will host its 35th annual Sakura Matsuri — or cherry blossom festival. Music performances, workshops and other activities to celebrate Japanese culture, both traditional and modern, will take place on Saturday and Sunday.
“I can’t think of anything more spectacular than sitting under a canopy of wispy pink cherry blossoms and listening to taiko drumming,” said the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Director of Public Programming, Anita Jacobs.
The festival began as a way to recognize the garden’s cherry trees and Japanese Hill and Pond Garden, which is in its 100th year. This year, activities at the festival will include traditional tea ceremonies, manga workshops and Japanese rock and pop concerts.
The garden will also host the Seventh Annual Sakura Matsuri Cosplay Fashion Show on Sunday afternoon. The fashion show is a crowd favorite according to Jacobs, and it will highlight local cosplayers in their personally handcrafted costumes based on animé, manga or video games.
“It’s been exciting to incorporate cosplay, Japanese street fashion, nerd comedy, manga and other contemporary arts into our programming and watch our audiences evolve,” Jacobs said.
“As the festival gets more and more popular our visitors have been inspired to come in costumes themselves: from traditional kimono, to flower garlands, to cosplay and Japanese contemporary street fashion.”
In past years, Sakura Matsuri has welcomed thousands of visitors over the course of the weekend.
The Cherry Esplanade holds the garden’s largest collection of ornamental cherry trees, the Prunus ‘Kanzan’ trees.
Jacobs said they are expected to be at peak bloom during the festival, and that the cherry blossoms can be tracked on the garden’s “CherryWatch” website at bbg.org/cherries.