Hanami Festival is a Japanese festival that celebrates spring and cherry blossom season. Cherry blossom festivals are celebrated not only in Japan but all over the world, including Ireland. This year, after a few missed years due to Covid-19, Hanami Festival is coming back to Dublin.
Coinciding with the cherry blossom season in Ireland (between April-May), the award-winning festival takes place Sunday April 10th in Farmleigh House, located within Dublin’s Phoenix Park.
What to Expect at Cherry Blossom Festival
Dublin’s cherry blossom festival is a family-friendly outdoors event in a fantastic location. Cherry blossom season in Ireland usually comes into full swing between April and May. Though sakura sometimes blooms as early as March when temperatures are mild. Hopefully this April 10th we’ll have a generous display of cherry blossoms to enjoy.
However, at Hanami festival, you can not only immerse yourself in beautiful sakura but in Japanese food and culture too.
Of course, for me, the Japanese food on offer is always a highlight. Each year the number of food stalls increases, due to the growing demand for this Japanese festival. I’m hoping 2022 will be no exception!
When I last visited in 2016, a standout dish for me was delicious curry udon garnished with bonito flakes. This classic Japanese festival food was prepared by Galway’s WA CAFE, who had a stall that year.
Keep an eye out for food stalls serving takoyaki and okonomiyaki. These are typical Japanese street foods and Japanese festival foods. They always taste amazing when freshly made straight in front of you!
There will also be plenty of opportunities to absorb a wider display of Japanese culture. From musical and dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, a variety of traditional arts and crafts, as well as seminars.
At the 2016 Hanami Festival in Dublin, I gave a talk titled Japan through the Eyes of Fiona Uyema. I shared my story and how Japan had inspired me to start a blog and to share my recipes. I also hosted (with help from my son) an information stall in the Cowshed on Japanese food and culture. Looking back, it’s amazing to see how my blog and business (and son!) have grown since that time.
Many festival-goers also dress for the occasion. You’ll see people adorned in traditional styles, following Japanese fashion subcultures, or in cosplay.
Cherry Blossom Festival Dublin Tips
To make the most of your experience, my top tip is to get there as early as possible. The festival can get busy with long queues forming, even towards the end of the day.
Secondly, opt to travel by public transport, if that’s an option for you. Phoenix Park is notorious for traffic and limited parking.
Hanami Festival is the flagship event of Experience Japan a volunteer-run, not-for-profit community organisation. The volunteer team is mostly made up of representatives of Japanese and Irish-Japanese communities in Ireland, as well as university students around Ireland who have an interest in Japanese language and culture.
This wonderful team of volunteers’ mission is to bring together local community groups to celebrate and share Japanese traditions and culture. This makes supporting the festival all the more rewarding!
Their events, including Hanami festival, are supported by the Office of Public Works, Dublin City Council and the Embassy of Japan.
If you’re interested in attending Japanese festivals around Europe you should also look at Hyper Japan in the UK and Japan Day in Germany. These wonderful festivals are still on my travel bucket list and I hope to visit them soon!
For more information about Experience Japan and Hanami Festival 2022 visit experiencejapan.ie.
If you want to learn more about cherry blossom season in Ireland, check out my blog post on the best places in Ireland to enjoy sakura HERE.
Photography Acknowledgement: thank you to Natalia at Smiles Photography for imagery used in this article.