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Cherry Blossom Paradise: Sakura Matsuri Returns To Gardens By The Bay

Most of the programs will be free this year

Photos: Gardens by the Bay

Can’t make a trip to Japan to see the cherry blossoms come into bloom this year? You won’t be missing out much, because Gardens by the Bay is bringing Japan and the sakura season to Singapore!

Following the successful debut of Sakura Matsuri last year, the festival is back and happening at Gardens by the Bay right now since 9 March, and will be running till 31 March. Grab your camera, call up your friends and family, put on your favourite kimono – a stunning cherry blossom floral display and lots of exciting Japanese cultural programs are awaiting you. This year, the festival is treating you to an even more authentic and immersive experience of Japanese culture, through performances, food, novelty products, and even anime. What’s more, most of the cultural programs are made free this year!

But first things first: let’s talk about the sakura of the Sakura Matsuri. The signature highlight of the festival is the floral display in the Flower Dome, and this year, visitors can look forward to an incredibly diverse spread of cherry blossoms. There will be 30 different cherry blossom varieties featured throughout the festival’s run, dotting the Flower Dome in many beautiful hues of pink and white. You can expect to see one of the most iconic Japanese sakura varieties, the Prunus serrulata, and witness it come into its lovely big blooms. Look out also for the gorgeous Prunus ‘Kanzan’ and its double pink flowers with as many as 30 petals.

Don’t wait long to check out the floral display, because many of the cherry blossoms are already in bloom earlier than expected! The above photo is a very recent shot by Gardens by the Bay of the little sakura florets just making an appearance, still on their way to full bloom.

Complementing the pink and white paradise at the Dome are lots of red, the red of Torii gates and traditional bridges. 15 Torii gates line the path that takes you through the blooms. There are also red wooden bridges that might just call to mind the Hirosaki castle bridge in Aomori Prefecture, one of the most popular and magical cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan.

These features recreate iconic Japanese cultural sights and ambiance even more powerfully than the previous display did last year, taking visitors right into the feeling of being in Japan. And of course, they’re perfect for photo-taking and adding more vibrant beauty to your Instagram feed!

There’s an admission charge to enter the Flower Dome and enjoy the floral display, but if you’d prefer not to whip out your wallet at all, you can still soak in the lively Japanese atmosphere of the festival by joining in the free cultural programs at The Canopy.

Welcome the spring season by catching the joyful Sendai Suzume Odori traditional dance, also known as the Sparrow Dance. More Japanese dance performances will also be free to enjoy at The Canopy, as well as other forms of traditional Japanese arts, such as choral and instrumental performances. For those already visiting the Flower Dome for the display, don’t miss the chance to witness a Japanese tea ceremony while you’re there.

The programs are all curated with the input of the Japan Creative Centre from the Embassy of Japan in Singapore, so you can look forward to a really excellent and authentic showcase of Japanese traditional culture. You can find the full program and schedule here.

Fans of Japanese pop culture have much to be excited about at the Sakura Matsuri, too! The Anime Garden also makes a return to the festival, to take place on 30 and 31 March at The Meadow and Flower Dome. Get ready to meet celebrity cosplayers from around Asia, and maybe get their autograph and a photo with them, as well as singers of some of our favourite anime theme songs, who will be performing in two concerts.

Want even more cosplay? On 31 March, the finalists from the World Cosplay Summit 2019 (Singapore) will be taking the stage to show off their amazing costumes and moves. The final round of the Anime Garden Cosplay Competition will also be happening live at The Meadow on the same day!

After a long day of excitement, kick back with your loved ones and catch two popular anime movie screenings – Crayon Shin-Chan The Movie, and A Silent Voice.

Finally, it’s not a Japanese-themed festival without lots of yummy Japanese street food. Head over to Nippon Street, a huge bazaar going on now until 17 March at the Flower Field Hall of the Flower Dome, to satisfy your cravings for takoyaki, okonomiyaki, onigiri and more! Journey back to retro Japan as you play some traditional Japanese festival games with attractive prizes to be won. Need a yukata to complete your look? Rent one at Nippon Street, and you’re ready for a unique selfie with the cherry blossoms!

Visit the official website for more information on Sakura Matsuri at Gardens by the Bay 2019.