Visit the Japanese Friendship Garden for the Cherry Blossom Festival

San Diego is preparing for the Cherry Blossom Festival! Come see the cherry blossoms in bloom during this springtime event at the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Jess Tucker
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Visit the Japanese Friendship Garden for the Cherry Blossom Festival, San Diego

Cherry Blossom Festival at the Japanese Friendship GardenBridge Over Creek at the Japanese Friendship Garden

Founded to bridge the gap between San Diego and its sister city of Yokohama, Japan, the Japanese Friendship Garden helps bring elements of Japanese culture to Southern California. The Cherry Blossom Festival follows through on this mission statement by letting San Diegan residents experience the magic of blooming cherry blossoms.

Japanese cherry trees, also known as sakura, only bloom briefly in the spring, which has made them an enduring symbol in Japanese culture. They often represent the change of the season and the life cycle, and the short window of time during which they can be seen is symbolic of the brevity of life. Cherry blossoms are also associated with good fortune.

The annual Cherry Blossom Festival will take place from March 7-10, 2024 at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.

Statue at El Prado at Balboa Park
Statue at El Prado at Balboa Park

Don’t forget to grab a Go City San Diego pass with our discount code GVSD5OFF to receive discounted admission to many other Balboa Park attractions, including The San Diego Museum of Art and Natural History Museum.

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Cherry Blossoms and Tranquil Teas
Participate in a traditional tea ceremony. Savor the serene ambiance amidst the blooming cherry blossoms as you experience the art of Japanese tea-making firsthand.

Explore the winding pathways and gorgeous landscapes as you tour Balboa Park's Japanese Friendship Garden. With Todd as your guide, see what this scenic and relaxing Go City San Diego pass attraction has to offer.

Visit the Japanese Friendship Garden
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Performances at the Cherry Blossom Festival

Main Doors into Japanese Friendship Garden
Main Doors into Japanese Friendship Garden

The Japanese Friendship Garden will host four full days of performances at the Inamori Pavilion. These performances highlight different aspects of Japanese culture, from dancing and singing to martial arts.

Some performances you can expect to see during the festival are a lion dance, taiko drummers, a shamisen player, a Geisha opera singer, bands inspired by anime and video games, kendo demonstrations, and various dance groups.

Carte Hotel San Diego Downtown
Carte Hotel San Diego Downtown

If you’re planning on coming back for multiple days of performances, book a stay at a nearby hotel. Carte Hotel San Diego Downtown is one of my favorite places to stay in the Core-Columbia neighborhood of Downtown San Diego area, which is just a short trip from Balboa Park.

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What attractions are included with a Go City San Diego pass?

Attractions that you can visit with a Go City San Diego pass include:

The San Diego Zoo, Birch Aquarium, SeaWorld, Safari Park, LEGOLAND, Harbor Cruise, USS Midway Museum, the NAT Museum, Whaley House, PETCO Park Tour, iFLY San Diego and many, many more!

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Food Vendors, Merchant Vendors and Performance Times

Entrance to the Uniquely Beautiful Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park
Entrance to the Uniquely Beautiful Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park

The main draw of the Cherry Blossom Festival is the performance lineup, which runs from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm every day of the festival. Schedules for each day’s events can be found on the event site.

In between performances, stop by vendor stalls to do some shopping and grab a bite to eat.

Art Vendor at Balboa Park
Art Vendor at Balboa Park

Merchant Stalls

Browse the merchant stalls at the festival and take home a keepsake. Some of the items you can expect to see include art prints, cherry blossom themed designs, resin works, jewelry, ceramics, clothing, and various other handmade goods.

The full lineup of merchants can be found on the event’s official website.

Food at the Festival

Food vendors will offer a selection of Asian meals and treats. These include sushi, mochi, dumplings, rice balls, Thai burgers, and sweets like kettle corn and shaved ice.

Japanese Art at the Japanese Friendship Garden
Japanese Art at the Japanese Friendship Garden

Contests and More

The Cherry Blossom Festival will also hold contests and special events during the festival. These include a cosplay contest on Saturday and presentations about sake given during Saturday and Sunday. There will also be a display of submitted artwork inspired by the cherry blossoms.

Helpful Information and Tips for the Japanese Friendship Garden for the Cherry Blossom Festival, San Diego

These useful tips are important to know before you visit the Japanese Friendship Garden.

Japanese Friendship Garden Entrance
Japanese Friendship Garden Entrance

How Much Are Tickets?

Tickets to the Cherry Blossom Festival are $18 for adults and $12 for students, seniors, and military. Children 6 and under can attend for free.

Admission to the garden through the Go City San Diego pass will be accepted during the festival.

What Are the Festival Hours?

Each of the four days of the festival run from 10 am to 7 pm, with final call on admission at 5 pm.

Free Tram at Balboa Park
Free Tram at Balboa Park

How Can You Get to the Festival?

San Diego’s public transportation options make it easy to get to the festival from anywhere in the city. If you’re planning to drive, parking is available for free throughout Balboa Park.

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