It seems like Nashville has some kind of festival every weekend. Beer festivals, food festivals, wine festivals; there is a festival for everything. It is easy to get burnt out on the whole festival thing, but there is one Nashville Spring festival you shouldn’t miss. The Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival! This post contains affiliate links.
Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival
Held in Spring, the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival is a celebration of Japanese culture. Public Square in Nashville turns into a beautiful festival grounds full of musicians, entertainers, and other exhibits. It provides a fantastic opportunity to interact with and learn about Japanese culture. 2017 was the 9th year of this festival and it had an incredible turn out.
Kicking off the Festival
The festival started at 9:00 am with a 2.5 mile Cherry Blossom Walk. The Cherry Blossom Walk begins and ends at Public Square and follows the Cumberland River Greenway, looping at Sister Cities’ Magdeburg Connector to Morgan Park in Germantown.
After the walk the first performer was Kaminari Taiko of Houston, a Japanese Drumming Ensemble. They were followed up by a welcome to the festival, a partner spotlight, and a few other things that we missed because we decided to walk around and see some more of the festival.
After the initial performance and welcome, we walked the grounds for a bit to see the vendors and informational booths. My favorites were the Nashville Bonsai Society and Tennessee Foreign Language Institute booths. Watching the Inflatable Suit Sumo Wrestling was pretty hilarious too! However, my favorite part of the day was sitting under the cherry trees near the back and people watching! Everyone was having a great time.
A bit of advice, don’t wait until you are hungry to start looking for food. By 12:30 I was starving; we walked down to the road to see what we could find from a food truck. There were a lot of them there, and being lunch time the lines were ridiculously long. Some of my favorite food trucks were on site (Funk Seoul Brother, Hoss’ Loaded Burgers, Bajo Sexto Taco), but making our decision basically came down to jumping in the line we were closest to. Did I mention the lines were really really long? We ended up eating at Hibachi 4 Hire which turned out to be really tasty! I hope to see them at some other festivals.
Another really fun thing that happens at the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival is a Cosplay Contest. If you are unfamiliar with cosplay, it is the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game, especially one from the Japanese genres of manga and anime. There were a lot of people in some incredibly elaborate costumes. I won’t pretend to know what most of the costumes were, but these folks put a lot of work into them and it shows. The winner of the Cosplay contest received an airline ticket to Japan, and the runners up received passes to other conventions that are coming up soon.
Drums and Things
By late afternoon, we were pretty exhausted, but we wanted to stick around to see another performance by Kaminari Taiko. We made our way to the front and got comfortable. Their drumming show is amazing! We decided to head home after this show and it was the perfect way to close the day for me. I wish we could have seen a few of the other performances like: Kent Family Circus and the Japanese Festival Dance with the Consulate General of Japan. Maybe next year.
Tips to make the best of the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival
Wear Sunblock. Sure it is early April and the weather is amazing, but if you are anything like me you will get sunburned.
Try to eat early or late, but don’t wait until you are starving to get in line for food.
Check the website ahead of time and make a plan for what you want to see. Get to the stage early if you want to be close. The seating area fills up fast.
Wear comfortable shoes, there is a lot of walking.
Try something new. Take advantage of the opportunities at the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival to be adventurous.
Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival is a great experience. I can’t wait to see what they do for their 10th anniversary next year! I’ll be there, will you? Tell us your favorite things about the festival in the comments.