It is officially spring time! And that means more outdoor festivities in the Bay Area. This year you won’t want to miss the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival (NCCBF), which will take place April 13-14 and 20-21. If you didn’t know already, it is the largest celebration of cherry blossoms outside of Washington D.C. According to the official website, “Each year, over 200,000 people attend this dazzling display showcasing the color and grace of the Japanese culture and the diversity of the Japanese American Community.” The festival is full of culture, food, retailers, dancing, live music, martial arts and, of course, the famous Grand Parade that starts at City Hall and ends in Japantown. Overall, the festival symbolizes spring’s arrival.
There are only three Japantowns left in the United States, and the history of the festival is very interesting. It was first started in 1968 as a means to help bring the people of Japan and the United States back together while celebrating the rich culture of Japanese-Americans. Along with the festival and events itself, the NCCBF has the Queen Program, which is designed to mentor young women to teach them community and leadership values. Another cool part of the festival is the photography contest. Each year the festival has a different theme, and people submit photos they think capture the true meaning and spirit of the festival.
Besides attending the festival and the many events, there are numerous ways to get involved with the festival. Hundreds of volunteers help out with the festival every year, from general help at booths to marketing and social media.
Whether you are attending the festival for the first time and enjoying the beautiful cherry blossoms or you are helping out as a volunteer, experiencing the vibrant culture of the Bay Area will be a great addition to your springtime.