The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival has gone digital again for 2021. Enjoy the blossoms and one of Vancouver’s most beloved events from wherever you are.

I love when April rolls around because it means it’s time for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (VCBF). It makes my heart happy that the cherry blossoms are so beloved in Vancouver that we have an annual festival dedicated to sakura trees. But necessary physical distancing means the festival pivoted to an online format for a second year. Because we need to stay local and stay safe.

Did you know? Many of Vancouver’s 40,000+ cherry trees originated as gifts from Japan. The cherry blossom festival was created as a way to express gratitude and celebrate the beauty and joy they bring to Vancouverites.

To give everyone their cherry blossom fix, the VCBF has revamped their events so Vancouverites and others can experience hanami (the Japanese word for cherry blossom viewing) in digital form or — for locals — at a distance. Here are some crafty ways to enjoy this year’s festival locally (or from wherever you are) on the BC Ale Trail.

Cherry blossoms BC Ale Trail

Raise a glass to the cherry blossoms at the ‘Sakura at Home’ Online Gala

The VCBF has morphed its annual gala into an online event on April 25th. Hosted by local media personalities, the ticket price for this online event features incredible menu selections to be delivered right to Vancouverite doors. With supporting local in mind, I connected with our own Joe Wiebe for some beer pairing suggestions to enjoy your gala meal selection. Here are his recommendations:

  • Consider pairing Strange Fellows Brewing‘s Reynard Oud Bruin with the offering from Salmon n’ Bannock. (Appetizer: Candied Salmon / Entree: Duck Confit with Cherry Glaze / Dessert: Cherry Walnut Cake)
  • With the nutty/salty notes of the Wild Origins “cook-along” option in mind, Joe suggests a tart and salty gose like the 33 Acres Brewing Experiment Mezcal Gose or the “Cuban Taxi Guava Gose from Callister Brewing.
  • Complement the richness of the menu from Burdock & Co. with a porter or stout. The Dive Bomb Porter from Powell Brewery or Cherry Cola Stout from Electric Bicycle Brewing would go well. An alternative to this would be the Faculty Brewing anniversary Benifuki Dubbel. (Appetizer: Cherry Leaf Cured Scallop and Shiso Rice Crisp / Entree: Burdock and Sakura Sausage with Shallot and Beet Salad / Dessert: Sakura Milk Custard with Meringue-Sour Cherries and Salted Cherry Blossom Sorbet)

 

 

  • A tropical IPA will have you feeling like you’re on holiday as you enjoy the menu from Vij’s. Andina Brewing, Superflux Beer Co., and Main Street Brewing have excellent options to choose from. (Appetizer: Papri Chaat / Entree: Vij’s family creamy chicken curry OR coconut curried vegetables; both with cherry blossom Basmati rice / Dessert: Coconut pudding with fruits and rose water
  • Joe recommends a Czech-style Pilsner — like the Stimulus Czech from Callister or Czechmate from Off the Rail Brewing — with the Miku menu. (Shusai + Aburi + Dessert)
  • To pair with the menu from Chefs Will Lew and Clement Chan, a breezy Saison will do quite nicely. Brassneck Brewery and East Van Brewing each have a good option. (Appetizer: Edible Beach / Entree: Sake Kasu Honey Glazed Gindara Sablefish / Dessert: Sakura Sweets)

 

Cherry Blossoms Vancouver on the BC Ale Trail
Photo: Dave @davesbigdayout via Instagram

Virtual Tree Talks & Walks

While Vancouver residents see blossoms on a daily basis as they walk around both the Yeast Vancouver and Brewery Creek Ale Trails, Virtual Tree Talks & Walks are available on the VCBF website for people around the world to enjoy. In addition, the festival will also release a short film, In Full Bloom, at the end of April. (You still have some time to pick out the perfect viewing beer. Just saying…) This calming cinematic experience will let blossom lovers ‘take flight’ and view the trees like never before. You can watch the trailer here.

The Big (Virtual) Picnic

There’s an expression that “there are no strangers under the cherry tree.” Pre-COVID more than 3,000 people from all over would come together in Vancouver for The Big Picnic to share in the beauty of the blossoms. While we can’t do that this year, you can have your own sakura picnic. To provide some inspiration, we’ve shared some local Ale Trail possibilities here. Or if your keen to stay home, use what you have to transform your backyard, balcony, or living room into a creative picnic space. I would also suggest really getting into the spirit with some blossom-themed activities and planning a pink menu.

Some menu suggestions to go with your picnic beers:

We’d love for you to share your cherry blossoms experience with us on social. Tag us @bcaletrail and @vancherryblossomfest on Instagram.


The more we do today, the sooner we can all explore BC again. For more information about COVID-19, please refer to these government resources.

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