9 Spring Flower Festivals That Will Inspire You to Start Planting

Immerse yourself in cherry blossoms, tulips, lilacs, roses, and more at these iconic events around the country.

After a long winter, spring feels like the ultimate ‘ahhh’ of relief, especially as flowers start blooming again. And after almost three years of adapting to pandemic procedures and changing recommendations, 2023 can feel like an even bigger breath of fresh air now that many of the events we enjoyed pre-pandemic are returning somewhat back to normal. This year all around the country, various garden and flower festivals like the picturesque cherry blossoms in Washington D.C., or mesmerizing purple Azaleas in North Carolina will celebrate the natural beauty of spring. In 2023, some of these events are even experiencing big milestones, making them even more momentous to attend.

blooming cherry blossom trees near the Washington Monument during the National Cherry Blossom Festival

National Cherry Blossom Festival

1. National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D.C.

Of all of the spring gathering, the Cherry Blossom Festival at the nation’s capital is one of the most beloved. For three fragrant and beautiful weeks, Washington D.C. welcomes upwards of 1.5 million visitors, all hoping to admire (and pose in front of) 3,000 perfectly pink trees. Of course, you’ll never be charged to stroll along the mall that stretches from the U.S. State House to the Lincoln Memorial, or for most of the other many events throughout the festival. These include celebrations of both American and Japanese cultures, the Pink Tie Party that raises money for charity, as well as the Opening Ceremony, held at the Warner Theater that showcases dance and song performances. And, you can’t miss the Blossom Kite Festival, the Cherry Blossom Parade, or the Pedalpalooza. Note that parking is limited and the festival recommends alternative transportation modes.

When to Visit: March 20 to April 16

Price: Free for most events. The Pink Tie Party is $225.

tulip field looking out on mountains
Rows of colorful spring tulips blooming in Washington state. Courtesy of Pam Headridge/Skagit Tulip Festival

2. Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Mount Vernon, WA

The state of Washington offers one of the most sought-after destination events in the Pacific Northwest every April. It’s during this month that tulips put on their stunning annual show. Depending on the timing of Mother Nature, the fields may be the most colorful at the start or the end of the month, so it’s recommended to drive through the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival a few times.

When to Visit: April 1 to 30

Price: This year, there are four tulip farms that festival-goers can visit. Each of them has their rules and pricing, and you’ll need to purchase tickets separately. These include:

  • Garden Rosalyn: $17 for general admission; kids under two are free
  • RoozenGaarde: $15 for general admission; kids under two are free
  • Tulip Valley Farms: $15 for general admission weekends; $13 on weekdays
  • Tulip Town: $13.81 for general admission. You can also book packages at various price points, including Date Night, Engagement, Photography and more. 
dogwoods trails in spring
Pink and white blooming dogwood trees. Courtesy of Loch & Key Video Productions/Dogwood Arts

3. Dogwood Trails and Gardens, Knoxville, TN

While you’ll find native dogwoods blooming from Maine to Florida, they're truly breathtaking in the Volunteer State. Each year since 1955, Knoxville lights up with white and pink flowers dogwood flowers along 13 dogwood trails (more than 90 miles) and in historic neighborhoods. You can enjoy walking, driving, or biking through the blooms. And throughout the month of April, events such as guided hikes, open garden weekends, and the Dogwood Arts Festival are also on tap.

When to Visit: April 1 to 30

Price: Free, but donations suggested.

North Carolina Azalea Festival parade float

North Carolina Azalea Festival

4. North Carolina Azalea Festival, Wilmington, NC

Beautiful blooming azaleas have been celebrated on the coast of North Carolina since 1948. In addition to plenty of photo opportunities when these shrubs are at their peak bloom, expect to also find concerts, fairs, and special events throughout the five days of this event. In 2023, you can book tickets to see Carly Pearce and the Old Crow Medicine Show. Every year, more than 200,000 people enjoy the two-day street fair, and 100,000 watch the parade.

When to Visit: April 12 to 16

Price: Free but some events require paid tickets.

signage from California Poppy Festival

City of Lancaster

5. California Poppy Festival, Lancaster, CA

Though you may not recognize this California town, it’s the place to be to celebrate the Golden State’s official flower. Since the spring of 1970, Antelope Valley has welcomed as many as 200 million people from 141 countries to bask in the glow of blooming California poppies and West Coast sunshine. Always held around Earth Day, it’s a special yearly event full of food, performances, and local crafts, ideal for the whole family. Attending this year will be extra special, as the event is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

When to Visit: April 21 to 23

Price: Adults, $13; children, seniors, and active military or veterans, $8; children under 5, free. Parking is $10.

Grace Arents Garden Victorian-style garden at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Roger Foley

6. Historic Garden Week, Across the State of VA

It’s not one city that celebrates the arrival of spring in Virginia—it’s the whole state! While the official name of this 90-year-old event is Historic Garden Week, it’s a bit misleading because "America’s Largest Open House" is actually eight days long. During this time, visitors can drive and walk through a variety of gardens and homes to admire a kaleidoscope of blooms. The price varies depending on location, but it all benefits the state’s historic public gardens and landscapes, a research fellowship program, and other initiatives.

When to Visit: April 15 to 22

Price: Varies depending on the tour, $25 to $70.

tulip field
Colorful rows of tulips at the Tulip Time Festival. Courtesy of Tulip Time Festival

7. Tulip Time Festival, Holland, MI

While tulips are a beloved flower throughout the year, spring is their prime time—and this Michigan town overflows with them annually. It’s not just locals who flock here, since the Tulip Time Festival often includes top performances. This year you can book tickets to see multi-platinum entertainer Sara Evans and Girl Named Tom, the first-ever trio to win NBC's The Voice.

In addition to capturing a no-filter-needed Instagram photo, you'll also enjoy dance performances, artisan markets, and fireworks, all in celebration of the country of Michigan’s Dutch heritage. Though walking around the grounds is free, some concerts require a ticket purchase so make sure to book before you head out.

Dates: May 6 to 14

Price: Free, but donations suggested. Prices vary for tickets to concerts.

lilac festival crowd
Courtesy Andy Buscemi Photography/Rochester Lilac Festival

8. Rochester Lilac Festival, Rochester, NY

You always know when you’re around lilacs because their scent is among the most recognizable and aromatic. That’s why walking through Rochester’s display of 1800 lilacs is a one-of-a-kind experience. Since lilacs derive from other countries—including Mexico, India, China, and Germany—this festival also celebrates cultures and customs from around the world. Get ready to sniff, eat, and dance at this family-friendly party. This year will have the added specialness of celebrating the event's 125th anniversary.

When to Visit: May 12 to 21

Price: Free

portland rose festival
Roses on display in Portland, Oregon. Courtesy of The Portland Rose Festival Foundation

9. Portland Rose Festival, Portland, Oregon

Iconic, romantic, and perfect for any moment, anniversary, or "just because" opportunity, there’s a reason why roses are many people’s favorite flower of all. At the Portland Rose Festival, the largest and longest-running rose show in the country, you can immerse yourself in all things roses. This is its 115th year running, and the 2023 theme is "Focus on Fun," which is exactly what you'll experience. Parades, concerts, a treasure hunt, friendly garden and rose competitions, art shows, and more await.

When to Visit: May 26 to June 11

Price: Free. $15-$30 for the Grand Floral Parade

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