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A Celebration of Spring: The 2024 Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival

Mar 31, 2024
Branch Brook Park Newark NJ Cherry Bloosoms

As spring awakens the landscape with vibrant colors, Essex County prepares to host its much-anticipated Cherry Blossom Festival in Branch Brook Park. This year's festival, scheduled to start on Saturday, April 6th, and go through Sunday, April 14th, 2024, promises a blend of athletic endeavors, cultural experiences, and family-friendly activities set against the backdrop of the park's stunning Cherry Blossom Trees. Plus, it is a short distance from Harrison in Newark.  You can take Route 280 West and get off at the 2nd Exit- Clifton Avenue and book a right at the 1st traffic light.  The entrance to Branch Brook Park is on your left after the 1st Traffic light and before the 2nd Traffic light, a ½ block away from the gorgeous Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart is located.

There was a time when the Cherry Blossoms were a very precious treat that was enjoyed by mostly residents of North Newark and Bloomfield NJ where the park is located.  There was a time when suggesting a trip to Newark to see the Cherry Blossoms would get a blank stare.  Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. and the Branch Brook Park Alliance have through the years brought the spotlight on Branch Brook Park’s Cherry Blossom Trees and now the blank stare has turned into a smile as more persons have discovered the serenity of standing in the midst of the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom.  The bloom is only for a short time each year which makes it even more special.  You have to make time to visit otherwise you will miss it.

Over the years, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. and his able staff and volunteers from the Branch Brook Park Alliance have expanded the events during the Cherry Blossom Festival.  Here is a list of events we have gathered up for your easy reference.  You can also skip all these events and just sit on a bench in the park and take it all in.  It is quite a special feeling to sit among the Cherry Blossoms.

Cherry Blossom Challenge Bike Race

Kickstarting the festival on Saturday, April 6th, from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm, is the Cherry Blossom Challenge Bike Race. Cyclists will race through the scenic vistas of Essex County Branch Brook Park's Northern Division Oval, competing for cash prizes across various categories. With registration fees ranging from $35 to $45, participants can sign up at Spectators are welcome to enjoy the race and the park’s beauty free of charge.

Cherry Blossom 10K Run

On Sunday, April 7th, runners will have their moment amidst the cherry blossoms from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. The Essex County Cherry Blossom 10K Run invites athletes to race through historic groves, offering a unique way to experience the park’s natural splendor. Registration costs vary, with discounts for early and USATF-NJ members, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Special Olympics New Jersey. To register, visit RunSignup.

1-Mile Fun Run/Walk

A highlight for families and children, the One-Mile Fun Run/Walk takes place on Saturday, April 13th, from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. This event encourages young runners to enjoy the park and its cherry blossoms. Participation is free. Schools were required to register by March 15th, 2024 so it's too late to register as a School but you can register as an Individual registrations on race day. For more information, contact Jackie Matthews at [email protected].

Essex County Family Day

Following the Fun Run, the Essex County Family Day offers an array of activities from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, also on Saturday, April 13th. Held at the Concert Grove, Southern Division, this event is free and features paddle boats, crafts, face painting, a bouncy house, rock climbing, and more. It's a perfect way to spend a day outdoors with family under the Cherry Blossoms.


The festival concludes with Bloomfest on Sunday, April 14th, from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, spanning both the Oval, Northern Division and the Prudential Concert Grove, Southern Division. This day is packed with Japanese cultural demonstrations, children's activities, live music, a crafter's marketplace, and delicious food. Highlights include performances by Soh Daiko, Cobu Taiko Drum & Dance Troupe, and Taikoza, among others.

Cherry Blossom Talks and Historic Cell Phone Tours

Throughout the festival, attendees can also enjoy Cherry Blossom Talks on Thursdays and Saturdays at 11:00 am at the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center, Extension Division. For those who prefer a self-guided experience, Historic Cell Phone Tours are available throughout the season by calling (973) 433-9047.

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