8 Best Spring and Summer Flower Festivals In the U.S.
As winter begins to release its hold, spring announces its arrival with blooming flowers all across the globe. In the United States, tulips emerge in a riot of colors in Washington, while upstate New York is perfumed by hundreds of varieties of lilacs. In Washington, D.C., travelers flock from all over to see the blooms of the famous cherry trees, while a tiny town in Texas explodes with tourists during an annual Bluebonnet Festival. Get your fix of the season by attending one of these fabulous flower festivals in the U.S. this spring.
Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.
In 1912, the mayor of Tokyo gifted the city of Washington, D.C. with 3,000 cherry trees. More than a century later, these symbolic trees continue to color the National Mall and West Potomac Park with their cheerful pink blooms every year. From March 24 until April 8, the capitol celebrates the fleeting flowers with marching bands, parades, and art installations during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
California Poppy Festival in Lancaster, California
It’s hard to mistake the bright orange hue of a poppy, and in Lancaster (just north of Los Angeles) fields erupt each spring with the riotous shade. The two-day California Poppy Festival helps mark the return of the state flower with hundreds of art exhibits and avant-garde performances, as well as a farmers market, auto show, and traditional festival fare.
Azalea Festival in Wilmington, North Carolina
The charming city of Wilmington, in southeastern North Carolina, hosts a vibrant azalea festival every spring. Tied to the arrival of azaleas at the beginning of April, the North Carolina Azalea Festival features family-friendly events, Southern music concerts, a three-day street fair, and over-the-top galas. There are also many free activities during the Azalea Festival, including a parade and fireworks show.
Daffodil Festival in Nantucket, Massachusetts
While many will head to Nantucket during the summer months to lounge on the beach, consider arriving earlier in the season this year. In addition to beating the crowds, you can participate in the annual Daffodil Festival on Nantucket, which runs for one weekend at the end of April. What started as an antique car parade in the 1970s has ballooned into a massive event. It still includes the parade, but has expanded to musical concerts, pageants, and a community flower show.
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Mount Vernon, Washington
During the month of April, the Skagit Valley in northwestern Washington is blanketed by tulips in every imaginable color — and nearly one million people enjoying the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Running for the entire month, the festival features a variety of activities, including bike tours, art shows, and quilt walks. And be sure to save room for the routine salmon barbecue.
Lilac Festival in Rochester, New York
Every year in early May, the denizens of Rochester, New York gather in Highland Park for one of the city’s most beloved (and beautiful) cultural gatherings. The Rochester Lilac Festival remains the biggest free festival of its kind in North America, and includes 10 days of parades, concerts, and races. Whether you're in town for a specific event of the entire festival, set aside time to admire the roughly 500 varieties of lilacs in bloom.
Rose Festival in Portland, Oregon
The Grand Floral Parade marks the beginning of the Portland Rose Festival — a 16-day affair that combines a number of races, parades, fireworks, and flower shows. Since 1907, the festival has celebrated the unofficial arrival of spring in Portland. Be sure to stop by the waterfront CityFair, which features classic carnival attractions (like the human slingshot) and fairground foods (corn dogs, elephant ears).
Bluebonnet Festival in Burnet, Texas
Deep in the heart of Texas is a small town called Burnet, which is home to just over 5,000 people. Yet each year, during the second weekend of April, an estimated 30,000 visitors arrive for the Bluebonnet Festival. The historic town square swells with art vendors, live music performances, and a food court. Get to town by the morning of April 14 to see the festival's Grand Parade.