The long, gray days of winter can drag. Are you ready for spring? Like magic, colorful, fragrant flowers invigorate us with energy and hope. We outline 15 amazing flower festivals to help you celebrate the warmer, brighter days ahead.
National Cherry Blossom Festival
- Where: Washington, DC
- When: March 20 – April 16, 2023
The National Cherry Blossom Festival, America’s largest springtime celebration, draws 1.5 million people to our nation’s capital each spring. Upon seeing the pink blossoms along the Tidal Basin and near historic national monuments and memorials, your heart will swell with pride.
The celebration honors a gift of cherry trees from Japan in the early 1900s. Still, it has grown to a massive event that promotes so much more, including art, culture, natural beauty, and community spirit.
The event is so big that the National Park Service (NPS) provides a bloom watch page online. They predict the peak bloom dates, so guests know the best time to visit Washington, DC. Peak bloom is when 70% of the buds have opened in the cherry trees surrounding the Tidal Basin.
Festival events include parades, kites, a pink-tie dinner party, and live performances. Around town, you can sample festival-inspired treats like cherry donuts, coffees, and teas. The city is abuzz with hope as people set aside political differences.
You should add the event to your bucket list if you have never visited Washington, DC, to see the cherry blossoms. After smelling the cherry blossoms, you can explore the many monuments and museums. Many of the festival events are free, as are most of the area attractions on the National Mall.
Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
- Where: Epcot in Orlando, Florida
- When: March 1 – July 5, 2023
Epcot sometimes gets overshadowed by Disney World’s other theme parks. The park dons brilliant gardens and fragrant blooms each spring for its flower and garden festival. You will find brightly colored, perfectly manicured gardens in many park sections.
The park is known for its beautiful topiaries that resemble iconic Disney characters. With the topiaries scattered throughout the park, many guests consider finding them all challenging.
You will find displays, a butterfly house, specialty merchandise, and outdoor kitchens where you can sample tasty dishes, desserts, and beverages featuring flowers and garden vegetables.
The theme park houses thrill rides, family rides, characters, restaurants, and more. One of the biggest attractions is Epcot World Showcase, where guests walk around a large, reflective lagoon to visit pavilions from various countries to sample food and drinks. During the spring celebration, Epcot offers unique foods and beverages, making your trip around the world even more fun.
Epcot also offers a dining experience at Space 220 that is out of this world. If you have always wondered what it would be like to eat in outer space, now is your chance to find out.
With Disney attractions, the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is one flower show your kids will be excited to attend.
Nantucket Daffodil Festival
- Where: Nantucket, Massachusetts
- When: April 27 – 30, 2023
Imagine a sea of yellow as the beautiful island of Nantucket emerges from a long, gray winter. Although the yellow flowers often take a backseat to cherry blossoms, roses, and tulips, Nantucket shines the spotlight on daffodils, giving them their just due.
The Nantucket Daffodil Festival comprises events like the daffodil festival hat parade, daffodil flower show, antique car parade, tailgate picnic, and daffy events at Children’s Beach. You have another reason to go if you have always wanted to visit Nantucket. In addition to the festival, you can explore the piers and cobblestone streets, shop in high-end boutiques, and eat in quaint restaurants with delicious food.
- Where: The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina
- When: April 1 – May 25, 2023
Nestled along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville harbors the Biltmore Estate, where you can explore acres of lovely gardens and manicured grounds painted by blooming tulips and spring flowers. With a lengthy celebration, the timing of your visit will determine what type of flowers you will see. No matter when you go, be sure to visit the walled garden.
Late March presents orchids, hyacinths, and crocus. Daffodils and flowering shrubs highlight the grounds in early April. Thousands of tulips paint the gardens in mid-April, while dogwoods and redbuds provide color in the background.
Walk under the wisteria pergola and smell the emerging azaleas in late April. In early May, the 20-acre azalea garden takes over the canvas like an artist experimenting with colors. The seductive scent of roses fills the air in late May as summer annuals and perennials climb the garden wall.
Enjoy wine tastings at the estate’s award-winning winery, savor delicious food at the restaurants, and browse the shops at your own pace. There is much to do at the Biltmore Estate, making it a delightful Blue Ridge Mountain retreat.
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
- Where: Skagit Valley, Washington
- When: April 1 – 30, 2023
You will discover lots of natural beauty in Washington no matter when you visit. However, seeing rainbow fields of tulips will take your breath away.
About an hour north of Seattle, you can tiptoe through the tulips at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. The festival comprises multiple locations and feels like a driving tour. Between La Conner and Mount Vernon, you will discover four different tulip gardens to explore:
- Garden Rosalyn
- Tulip Town
- Tulip Valley Farms
The tulip festival runs throughout April. You will find many events around Skagit Valley to celebrate the colorful flowers during that time.
The area offers plenty of other entertainment, like antique shopping, dining, hiking, and casinos. It is the perfect time and place for a getaway.
Portland Rose Festival
- Where: Portland, Oregon
- When: May 26 – June 11, 2023
To say the Portland Rose Festival is a tradition, is an understatement. The celebration goes back more than a century. Beyond seeing beautiful roses, Portland serves up all kinds of events. You will find more than enough to do at this flower festival.
Opening weekend blasts off with fireworks choreographed to music and a ribbon cutting ceremony. During the festival, you can watch parades, participate in the Starlight Run, and use clues to hunt for treasure in the Rose Festival Treasure Hunt.
The Waterfront offers carnival rides, games, and food for the whole family. During Fleet Week, you can view ships from the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard, and the Royal Canadian Navy. There is also a fun event where competing teams paddle in a Dragon Boat Race.
- Where: Burnet, Texas
- When: April 7 – 9, 2023
On the second weekend of each April, Burnet draws 35,000 visitors for the Bluebonnet Festival to honor the state flower of Texas. Although only a weekend, the celebration packs a ton of activities to cover the entire family’s interests.
Adults can enjoy live music, a classic car show, a demolition derby, shopping, food, and the Bluebonnet Biergarten. Kids will love the carnival, pet parade, bicycle decorating contest, wiener dog race, sack race, and spoon race. If that is not enough, you can watch the wild west shoot-out, walk or run in a 5K race, or take advantage of the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast.
With the beautiful bluebonnets and so many events, visitors often return. If you are worried there is nothing new for you, the festival is renowned for adding new activities for returning visitors. With so much to do, it is the most exciting small-town festival in Texas.
California Poppy Festival
- Where: Lancaster, CA
- When: April 21 – 23, 2023
The orange petals of the California poppy brighten the Golden State like rays of sunshine. You cannot help but don a cheery smile when you see a vast field of poppies. No wonder it is the state flower.
Lancaster yields one of California’s most abundant poppy crops. For three days, you can join in on the celebration of live entertainment, carnival rides, displays, festival food, a beer garden, and live animal exhibits. More than 200 vendors participate so that you can find plenty of goods to commemorate your experience.
The California Poppy Festival is at the Antelope Valley Fair and Event Center. About 15 miles from here, you can walk the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve trails for a closer look at the poppies.
Note that the massive area consists of rolling hills and ranges in elevation from 2,600 to 3,000 feet. You can do a lot of walking. Lancaster is in the western portion of the Mojave Desert, so wear sunscreen and stay hydrated as you admire the poppies.
Washington State Apple Blossom Festival
- Where: Wenatchee, WA
- When: April 27 – May 7, 2023
Wenatchee has earned its reputation as a top apple-growing region. It is befitting that the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival gets held here.
The gala draws more than 100,000 visitors annually, making it one of the Pacific Northwest’s premier festivals. Beyond the fragrant white and pink apple blossoms, you will find plenty of food, a beer garden, a carnival, and entertainment.
The event has a Youth Parade and a Grand Parade where you will observe beautiful floats in the processional. More than 100 arts and crafts vendors attend, so there are plenty of goods to purchase.
If you love golf, the festival has its golf tournament. The festival hosts an entire day of events and activities devoted to kids. It truly is a fun event that offers something for all ages.
Mackinac Island Lilac Festival
- Where: Mackinac Island, Michigan
- When: June 9 – 18, 2023
An island where most visitors arrive by ferry, Mackinac Island is a unique vacation spot with fine dining, historic sites, and exciting attractions. It is known for being car-free. Most people get around the island by bicycle or on foot. You can take horse and carriage rides as well.
The Mackinac Island Lilac Festival is the island’s largest and most historical festival, and this year marks its 75th anniversary. Festival events include:
- Lilac Queen Coronation
- Official event poster reveal
- 10K run/walk
- Lilac walking tours
- Lilac planting seminars
- Bounce houses
- Michigan cornhole tournament
- Live music
- Grand Parade
The quaint downtown area houses lush trees but is even more charming when decorated in lilacs. Although busy during the lilac season, it is a beautiful time to visit.
Tulip Time Festival
- Where: Holland, MI
- When: May 6 – 14, 2023
The Tulip Time Festival, one of North America’s best flower galas, started in 1929 when the town planted its first crop of 100,000 tulips. Since then, the celebration has grown dramatically and now includes programs, parades, pageantry, costumes, and the fan-favorite Dutch Dancers. It boasts events and activities for all ages.
The festival honors Dutch heritage, tulips, and Holland. You will find hundreds of thousands of tulips around the town. Just off the shores of Lake Michigan, you will discover many beautiful sights beyond the flowers.
The festival hosts events in various locations, but you will find that most everything is within a 4-mile radius of downtown Holland. Explore the town’s blooming beds, with boldly painted public parks and downtown streets. Eighth Avenue, the shopping district’s main avenue, is dubbed “Rainbow Road.” It is a must-see spot.
Rochester Lilac Festival
- Where: Highland Park, Rochester, New York
- When: May 12 – 21, 2023
There are many reasons to attend the Rochester Lilac Festival. The venue, Highland Park, is on the National Register of Historic Places. You will observe North America’s most extensive collection of lilacs, with more than 1,800 bushes and over 500 unique varieties. No wonder the ten-day event draws more than 500,000 people.
This year marks the 125th edition and features the following events and activities:
- Wine tasting expo
- Craft beer expo
- Lilac 5K and 10K
- Lilac Health and Wellness Experience
- Bully Hill Wine Grove
- Live entertainment
- Art in the Park
- Dunkin Dash
- Lilac Parade
- Seniors Day
- Kids’ Zone
- Festival food
Rochester, on the edge of Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes Region, is a fantastic location for an extended getaway. Within a 1.5-hour drive, you can explore three of the nation’s best state parks:
- Niagara Falls
- Watkins Glen
You can reach the Y-shaped Keuka Lake in an hour, where you will discover excellent wineries and an emerging brewery scene. Also, less than a 1-hour drive, Seneca Lake features some of the region’s best wineries.
Due to its location, the Rochester Lilac Festival is the perfect excuse for your upstate New York getaway.
North Carolina Azalea Festival
- Where: Wilmington, North Carolina
- When: April 12 – 16, 2023
A tradition since 1948, the North Carolina Azalea Festival has blossomed into one of America’s best flower festivals. Although the celebration showcases the lovely flowering shrubs, azaleas sometimes get overshadowed by attendees decked out in their finest threads. You will quickly notice the event has more flair than others on our list.
You can enjoy fireworks, a street fair, charming home and garden tours, a parade, the queen’s coronation and dance party, and live entertainment. There is lots of merchandise available as well.
Between the street fair and the pomp and circumstance, the event showcases the south’s taste and style. The gala also offers concierge services and a VIP experience. If you cannot attend, you can follow all the events and activities on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Where: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Cincinnati, Ohio
- When: April 1 – 30, 2023
During April, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden explodes with color. Its spring celebration, called Zoo Blooms, shines bright with over one million daffodils, hyacinths, flowering trees, shrubs, and spring bulbs. The month-long event features “Tulip Mania,” one of the most significant tulip displays in the Midwest. Although the animals get the spotlight most of the year, the bright flowers steal the show, if only for a moment.
You can observe animals in natural-looking habitats and explore the beautiful gardens during your visit. There is no additional charge. Your regular zoo admission includes access to the alluring flowers.
On Thursday evenings in April, the zoo presents Tunes and Blooms, where admission is free after 5:00 pm, and local music acts take the stage for a live performance at 6:00. You can enjoy sights and scents from the flower gardens and flavors from the beer garden.
Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival
- Where: Winchester, Virginia
- When: April 28 – May 7, 2023
The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival promotes springtime beauty and apple blossoms in a celebration that spans ten days and offers over 40 events. This year marks the 96th edition, showcasing Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley community spirit and natural beauty.
Events and activities include golf, pickleball, and tennis tournaments, a carnival, a wine fest, cider tastings and orchard tours, an apple pie baking contest, special lunches and dinners, dances, fireworks, parades, live performances, a fire truck rodeo, antique show, and kids’ activities. With a wide variety of events, you will find plenty to entertain your whole family.
Winchester rests just north of Shenandoah National Park, where you can explore nature’s beauty on hiking trails or by a scenic drive on the gorgeous 105-mile Skyline Drive. If you want a spring getaway, Virginia promises a few days of peaceful relaxation.
Wrap-Up: Flower Festivals
Spring is on the way, and it is time to celebrate. Whether you want to smell the roses or tiptoe through the tulips, there is an event to meet your interests. Find a flower festival and celebrate spring’s arrival. Flower power is real!
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About the author
We are Scott and Julie at Miles with McConkey. After nearly 30 years, we took a leap of faith out of the corporate world to enjoy a life of travel and adventure. We hope to inspire you to find ways to travel more and enjoy life now.