With a colour palette ranging from soft white to delicate rose to deep and glorious pink, cherry blossoms have long been a symbol of springtime in Metro Vancouver – and New Westminster has more than its fair share of trees to enjoy.
As the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival officially kicks off tomorrow (April 1), we had to ask: Where you can find the most beautiful cherry trees in New West?
With the help of the festival's neighbourhood map, plus some input from New Westies on Twitter, we've rounded up this guide to get you started on your sakura strolling. (Note that all dates are from the VCBF map, and they're based on past blooming patterns from last year. As the season unfolds, blooming estimates may be updated.)
Here, in roughly east-to-west order, are some must-see spots:
Hume Park area
You can find some stately beauties along the park edge and in the adjacent neighbourhood, including Fader Street between Major and Braid. The VCBF map says the Fader Street trees appear to be of the Kanzan variety, meaning they'll reach their peak between April 17 and 30 or thereabouts.
Skwo:wech Elementary School
If you ever travel Richmond Street, you know this beautiful stand of stately, mature cherry trees in front of Sko:wech (former Richard McBride Elementary School). But did you know they're of the Akebono variety? Akebono cherry trees are among the early bloomers in the region, with an estimated peak bloom between the end of March and April 13 or thereabouts – meaning they're prime for viewing and Instagramming right now.
Fraser/St. Peter's Cemeteries
Just a little ways down Richmond Street, you'll find these beauties that haven't yet come into bloom. These gorgeous old trees are of the Kanzan variety, so their peak blooming time is estimated between April 17 and 30. But save the date, because these are a New Westminster highlight you won't want to miss.
Kwantlen and Jamieson courts
As Richmond Street turns downhill to head down to East Columbia, you'll pass some prime cherry tree viewing territory. Don't miss Kwantlen and Jamieson courts, in particular – not to mention the beauties along Richmond Street itself. Cherry tree experts will need to weigh in on which varieties you'll see here, but the VCBF map notes the ones at the end of the Jamieson cul-de-sac are of the Shirotae variety, so you can expect to see them at their peak between April 6 and 21.
The neighbourhood is full of an abundance of trees, and the park proper boasts a few highlights. You can find three Washi-no-o trees near Vancouver Street (two mid-block and one near the Millennium Trail). There's also some large Washi-no-o trees right near the park entrance at Third Avenue and First Street. All of those will be at their peak between April 3 and 18, according to the VCBF map.
This glorious little pocket of beauty isn't listed on the VCBF map, so we'll have to let other experts weigh in on which varieties of cherry trees these are – or if, in fact, they're cherry trees at all. (I am informed they may, in fact, be plums). Either way, Regina Street, just west of Queen's Park, is a clear winner, and blossoms are abundant right now. Check out the stretch between Second and Third streets.
It's not quite yet at its peak, but the stretch of Third Street between Royal and Sixth Avenue offers a glorious arch of blossoms. Foremost among them are the Kanzan trees, meaning their peak is anticipated between April 17 and 30. You can also find some Washi-no-o in this neighbourhood, peaking between April 3 and 18.
Also notable for its Kanzan beauties is Seventh Avenue, particularly between Fourth and Fifth streets. Again, expect peak glory between April 17 and 30. Also on Seventh is a notable Washi-no-o, set to peak between April 3 and 18.
Tucked in near the entrance to the Pattullo Bridge is a block of beauty on Hastings Street, between Agnes and Wellington. These are the later-blooming Ukon, anticipated to reach full glory between April 18 and May 1.
New Westminster City Hall
Right at city hall, you can find several beautiful, mature Akebono trees in full blossom now (until April 13 or so). Neighbouring Tipperary Park and Friendship Gardens also have a variety of trees in various stages of bloom, so this promises to be an excellent destination for at least the next few weeks.
Royal Avenue and 10th Street
Right at the entrance to the Plaza Pointe condos at 98 10th Street, you can find a popular group of Akebono trees, in their viewing prime until April 13 or so.
There are a couple of pockets here. At the foot of 14th, you can find Shirotae in Riverside Adventure Park, set to peak between April 6 and 21. Uphill, look for the stretch between Dublin and London, which we're told is not to be missed.
Here's a reader-submitted addition to the list (thanks, Ellen!): "Some of New West's best cherry trees are admired while driving down Eighth Avenue on the west side of town. All the way to Connaught Heights area."
Share your best New Westminster cherry tree ideas and photos
We know this list isn't even close to exhaustive, so don't be shy: reach out with your ideas of where else to find great blossoms. And if you're willing to share some photos, please do – we'll collect a gallery of highlight blossoms as the month unfolds.
Send your ideas and photos to Julie, email@example.com.
Here's the scoop on the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival
Obsessed with all things sakura? Be sure to check out the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.
- Steps for Sakura: This event marks the official festival launch on Friday, April 1 at noon at Lot 19 (855 West Hastings St.)
- The Big Picnic: Meet under the cherry tree canopy in David Lam Park (1300 Pacific Blvd.) for all kinds of fun including a tree dedication ceremony, food trucks, interactive arts activities and workshops, an outdoor yoga class and much more.
- Sakura Days Japan Fair: Delve into the fun at Van Dusen Botanical Gardens April 9 and 10.
- 2022 Haiku Invitational: Can you write 17 memorable syllables and earn your place among the best cherry-blossom poets? The annual contest is open again, with prizes up for grabs in several categories.
You can find all the details at the festival website.