Cherry Blossom Festival, Branch Brook Park

Here's a little-known fact: New Jersey has more cherry trees than Washington, D.C. Branch Brook Park in Essex County has earned the distinction of having the largest and most varied collection of flowering cherry blossom trees in a park within the United States. And this spring, you can see them all.

Branch Brook Park, which runs through Belleville and Newark, features more than 5,200 Japanese cherry blossom trees that burst into full bloom during the annual Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival, being held April 1 – 16, 2023.

The festival kicks off with the action-packed Cherry Blossom Challenge Bike Race. Other festival favorites (in addition to admiring the countless blossoms and fantastic photo ops) include the Cherry Blossom 10K Run, Essex County Family Day, the 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk and Bloomfest! featuring live music, fun for the kids, crafters, and Japanese cultural demonstrations. Of course, it’s also a great time to enjoy lunch in the park under a canopy of blooms or learn about the trees during an audio tour via your cell phone.

Thousands of visitors are awed by the exquisite natural beauty of the blossoming cherry trees at the Cherry Blossom Festival each year. The park first adopted a pink and white hue in 1927, when Caroline Bamberger Fuld donated 2,000 cherry blossom trees to the Essex County Parks system in memory of her late husband. Since that time, trees have been added in a variety of different hues ranging from snow white to vibrant pink, resulting in the explosion of color we see on more than 5,000 trees today. The very first Cherry Blossom Festival at the park was held in 1976.

Branch Brook Park is an expansive, 360-acre park listed on both the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. It is the very first county park in the United States to open to the public. The park was designed by the famed Olmsted Brothers landscape architectural firm, established by the sons and successors of Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park in New York City.

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