VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — For sixteen years the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival has been a spring staple for the city.
Although, due to the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a revision of the month-long event with new additions and a digital experience being created to allow people to enjoy the blossoms safely.
Linda Poole, is the founder and Artistic Creative Director of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. She tells NEWS 1130 after a year of living in the pandemic they had the chance to come up with some new ways to view the blossoms during the virtual festival.
“A large part of this is Patrick Weir of Peacemaker Filmworks — a local film company that does drone filming. He was so choked last spring, when we couldn’t tell people to even go out to view the cherry blossoms. This year he’s going to capture Vancouver coming into bloom, and bring that beauty to everyone, even those that are in isolation.”
Weir says the film uses a fleet of drones to take you on a journey through the trees and see the blossoms from a new perspective.
The short film is titled: “In Full Bloom” and will be released Sunday, April 25.
Preview of the short film:
Like nowhere in Canada
Vancouver is often cited for its natural beauty but when the trees bloom and tunnels of trees with white and pink ceilings form, Poole says the beauty becomes a sight unique to the Lower Mainland.
“We’re the only city that can do this. Also, in Steveston there’s a nice display at Garry Point Park. We’re so very, very lucky. We must have about 44,000 trees now just in Vancouver, and then all the municipalities have thousands more you can check out.”
The festival originated in 2005 and Poole says she was inspired by when she was living abroad while her husband was in the Canadian Foreign Service.
“A Japanese diplomat, Knobu-san, told me about the age-old Sakura Festivals of Japan. Since many of Vancouver’s 43,000 cherry trees originated as gifts from Japan, creating a Vancouver festival struck me as a perfect way to express our gratitude for this generous gift and to celebrate the beauty and joy they bring to everyone.”
You can find a map of all the spots in bloom on the official festival site.
Plum Blossoms Versus Cherry Blossoms
There’s a reason the festival is in April, obviously, because that’s when the trees bloom.
However, less obvious, are the thousands of plum trees already further along in the blooming stage and many people mistake them for cherry blossoms.
Poole says there are a few key differences to watch for:
- Plum blossoms are fragrant (they smell good)
- There is no split at the end of the petals
- Plum tree trunks are dark with no horizontal lines
It’s still a pandemic, folks!
The pandemic has thrown the festivities online for another year but many people are eagerly gathering to get the best possible pictures across Metro Vancouver.
Various posts on social media show lots of people doing photoshoots in the middle of the roads, recording videos on public sidewalks and even breaking off branches to take some blossoms home.
View this post on Instagram
Poole says you should only be taking photos of cherry blossoms, not keepsakes, but health guidelines shouldn’t take a back seat to a photoshoot either.
“We want you to wear a mask, even if you’re outside, and to keep your distance.”
She adds, after a year under the pandemic many people are just fed up and tired of following these restrictions.
“That’s the scary part. People get are getting excited to see them because it’s been a whole year. But I really, really encourage everyone to take care even when we’re outside under cherry blossoms.”
However, Poole still says in whatever form it exists, the festival’s purpose is simple.
“It’s appreciating the beauty in life that makes life worth living. In our universal response to their beauty, we are united.”
Various events and learning tools are up on the festival’s official website.
The festival runs through till the end of April but if the blossoms inspire you to do some poetry, the community Haiku Invitational is accepting submissions until June 1.