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The Five Best Flower Festivals for Spring Flowers

BY: Jorie Larsen | Mar 3, 2015

In certain regions across the US, the blooming of spring flowers heralds the arrival the season—think bluebonnets in Texas or cherry blossoms in DC. We’ve rounded up five iconic flower festivals that usher in warmer weather with a gorgeous kaleidoscope of color.  

1. National Cherry Blossom Festival | March 25–April 15, 2017 | Washington, DC

Each spring, 3,000 cherry blossoms burst to life along Washington DC’s Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park. Tokyo mayor Yukio Ozaki gave the trees as a gift in 1912 to celebrate the friendship between Japan and the US. Today, more than 1.5 million people make the trek to DC each year to see the blossoms, making it one of the most popular flower festivals in the nation.

Best time to go: From 1992 to 2013, the cherry blossoms’ average peak bloom occurred on March 31, but it varies from year to year depending on weather conditions. Check in with the National Park Service for up-to-date details on this year’s bloom.

Where to stay: Rest your head in a charming inn in one of DC’s neighborhoods. Try Georgetown if you want to scope out centuries-old mansions and upscale shopping, or Dupont Circle if you want to be closer to the National Mall.

2. Tulip Time Festival | May 6–14, 2017 | Holland, Michigan

In 1928, the mayor of Holland, Michigan, purchased 100,000 tulip bulbs from the Netherlands, planted them, and held a one-day festival to celebrate the town’s Dutch heritage. Nearly 90 years later, the Holland, Michigan tulip festival has swelled to 8 days and drawn international acclaim for its 4.5 million colorful tulip bulbs planted along city streets and public parks.

Best time to go: The weather determines when the tulips will hit full bloom, though you'll be able to enjoy the colorful displays throughout the festival.

Where to stay: Stay in Holland itself, where you can revel in more Dutch culture, from old world-inspired facades downtown to plenty of spots to try on wooden shoes. If you’d rather explore a bigger city, Grand Rapids is 30 miles away.

Pro Tip: Be sure to catch the large concentration of colorful tulips—more than 100,000—on nearby Windmill Island, named for its 260-year-old Dutch windmill.

3. Bluebonnet Festival | April 7–9, 2017 | Burnet, Texas

The Bluebonnet Festival isn’t the work of a scrappy city planner or a gift from a passing dignitary—it’s a celebration of the natural flora of Texas Hill Country. In the town of Burnet, dubbed the “Bluebonnet Capital of Texas,” hills and roadsides are carpeted in the native Texan wildflower.

Best time to go: The festival is short, so be sure to go that weekend.  

Where to stay: Burnet is 60 miles from Austin and 100 miles from San Antonio. You can also make a weekend of it and stay in Texas Hill Country.

4. Rochester Lilac Festival | May 12–21, 2017 | Rochester, New York

Rochester’s first Lilac Festival was a bit of an accident. In 1890, several Rochester horticulturalists planted thousands of flowering blooms; eight years later, 3,000 townspeople turned out one sunny day in May to enjoy the magnificent display. The festival is now an annual tradition (with more than 500 varieties of lilacs) held in Highland Park, a green space designed in part by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The fest has expanded to include a parade, several free outdoor concerts, an arts-and-crafts show, and more.

Best time to go: The lilacs’ peak bloom date depends on the weather, though you'll be able to enjoy the colorful displays throughout the festival.

Where to stay: Rochester makes the most convenient base. However, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Niagara Falls are all within easy driving distance.

5. California Poppy Festival | April 22–23, 2017 | Lancaster, California

The Golden California poppy typically blooms around Earth Day every year, so the city of Lancaster, California, decided to marry the two events—and thus the California Poppy Festival was born. The fest is held on the outskirts of the Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve, which is home to nearly 3 square miles of wild poppies, the state’s official flower. There’s also live music and an arts-and-crafts show.

Best time to go: The festival is short, but the poppies are expected to be in bloom this year from mid-March through April.

Where to stay: The closest big city is Los Angeles, about 70 miles away. If you stay in town, follow our tips for doing LA like a local.

Guide Staff Writer
BY: Jorie Larsen
Guide Staff Writer

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