The annual Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival truly signifies the start of spring in our area. Now in its 41st year, the Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival has grown into a community and cultural showcase that celebrates the natural beauty of the nearly 5,000 pink cherry blossoms.
“The natural beauty of the cherry blossoms has been attracting visitors to the park since they were first planted there in the late 1920s. The festival has helped unify the community, highlighted the benefits of Branch Brook Park and the local neighborhood, and enabled the public to enjoy the blooming trees in a variety of ways,” Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. said. “We invite the public to come out and enjoy our display of 5,000 trees, which is larger than the national display in Washington, DC, and the most diverse collection in the world,” he added.
Take a look at the Cherry Blossom Cam for a live update on peak blooming
This year’s Cherry Blossom Festival begins on Saturday, April 8 and includes the following events:
Cherry Blossom Challenge Annual Bike Race
Saturday, April 8 from 7 am – 1 pm
Race through Branch Brook Park in the Cherry Blossom Challenge, a competitive New Jersey tradition, or cheer on the cyclists while enjoying a day in the fresh, spring air. Various races occur throughout the morning, with the first race at 7 am and the last race at 12 Noon. Registration fees apply to racers. It’s free to enter the park and watch. Cost: $30 – $35, varies by race category
Cherry Blossom 10K Run
Sunday, April 9. Registration at 8 am / Race at 10 am
Run through the historic cherry tree groves in this race that is sanctioned by the USATF. A portion of the race proceeds benefit the Special Olympics. Online registration can be done here. Same day registration begins at 8 am Advanced registration is recommended. Race starts at 10 am. Disabled Run starts at 10:10 am. It’s free to enter the park and watch. Cost: $22 Pre-Registrants; $19 USATF-NJ Member Pre-Registrants; $25 General
1-Mile Fun Run
Saturday, April 22. Registration at 8 am / Race at 10 am
Celebrate the arrival of spring and get fit with your family or friends. Children are encouraged to run individually or as a member of a school team. Schools and groups must register in advance by calling 973-268-3500. This is a free event. All participants will receive a commemorative T-shirt.
Essex County Family Day
Saturday, April 22 from 11 am – 3 pm
The public is encouraged to come out and enjoy an afternoon of family-fun with a variety of events including live performances, children’s activities, a fishing derby and more. Bring your own picnic lunch or purchase food from vendors who will be on site and enjoy the picturesque views overlooking the lake. Admission is free but food and other merchandise will be for sale.
Sunday, April 23 from 11 am – 5 pm
Enjoy a family day in the pink park! A packed schedule of events includes cultural demonstrations, children’s activities, live music, a crafter’s marketplace, food and more at the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center. Winners from the “Why My Essex County Park is Important to Me” essay contest for 4th graders and “Cherry Blossom Poster Contest” for 6th graders will be recognized on stage. Additional musical performances will be held at the Prudential Concert Grove. Admission is free; food and merchandise will be for sale..
Guided Historic Park Tours
Sunday, April 17 through Saturday, April 23 (11 am, 12 noon, 1 pm and 2 pm)
This free, self-guided historic walking tour can be accessed by cell phone or smart phone. Spend the day exploring all 72 tour stops or pick and choose your favorites. One call to 973-433-9047 or a scan of the bar code at each tour stop unlocks a world of park history and horticultural information.
History, driving directions, a complete list of activities and a web cam where the public can monitor the cherry trees for the peak of the bloom season can be accessed by visiting www.essexcountynj.org and clicking on the Cherry Blossom link. More information can also be obtained by calling 973-433-9047.