The place to be in Los Angeles this weekend will be Descanso Gardens Cherry Blossom Festival. This annual event has drawn such crowds each year that the gardens are now requiring reservations, and, alas, is sold out. If you are lucky enough to have that golden ticket for this weekend, read on as Michael and I were able to snag tickets last minute to the first weekend!
While purchasing tickets in advance is usually not required, Descanso has now installed ordering them online or by phone. Once you select a time, you are welcome to join in on the festivities anytime after that. One element that was a bit confusing is that even with your ticket, you must still get in line to check in when you arrive. You’re then given a fun hand stamp for entry that says “Happiness” in Japanese.
The event was definitely was at capacity, yet the gardens did not feel “mobbed” or that we were navigating overwhelming crowds. With several Japanese-inspired food stands to check out, Michael decided to make a bee line for some chicken curry…..
Nearby, you could also grab a glass of wine, beer or BBQ specials. While the festival events took place at Descano’s Japanese Gardens section, the cherry blossoms are beginning to bloom throughout the grounds, and, while some definitely had a little more ways to go, we nevertheless saw some absolute beauties.
We stumbled upon a traditional Japanese band on stage, Minyo Station, and they were about to launch into a celebratory song. When they asked if anyone was celebrating a marriage, engagement, birthday, I was quick to raise my hand that I am about to be married, and we were one of the couples the song was dedicated to. It was absolutely lovely and the vocals on the lead singer were beautiful. After the performance, they invited attendees to take part in learning the art of the Obon dance. Between my good friend, Alex, who dances each year at the Obon Festival in Portland, and, Mike and I loving Kubo and the Two Strings, it was awesome to see them teach just how Obon is done. Did we participate? No….we were the shy kids in the back observing!
With it being Mike’s first time at Descanso, I wanted to check out their famous Boddy House and their “Bloom” art gallery. After that, we decided to do our own thing and found a fantastic (and a little deserted) hiking trail that ended us up at the top of a gorgeous hill overlooking La Canada Flintridge and The San Gabriel Valley. Complete with a bench that had “Love” painted on the back, it was a fun surprise to find and to listen to the Japanese music being played down at the festival.
IF YOU GO….
Parking is free and ample
You can buy your own cherry blossom tree! Many were under $50, but, sell out early, so grab yours first thing when you enter (they are available out front of the gift shop)
If you have little ones in tow, the train looked really fun. you can buy your tickets for a ride at the entrance for $3.
Their cafe is now serving brunch on weekends….need we say more?!
Pack a bag of your essentials. Its a lot of walking, so, wear comfy shoes and remember your water.
You can learn more HERE and if you are unable to snag a ticket this weekend, rest assured as the cherry blossoms should be in bloom for awhile and you can go anther time soon! xo
(*Photos: Michael Farah.)