Whether it is the pink and white cherry blossoms in the nation’s oldest county park; or the cool sounds of jazz at the Shore; or a trip to celebrate the running of the shad, there are plenty of reasons to explore NJ this spring. In fact, many of them are at little or no cost. With this in mind, we’re rolling out our list of the best spring festivals in New Jersey.
Spring is in the air across New Jersey and traditional signs of the season are upon us. The blossoms and blooms are right on schedule, and you can almost hear the music and taste the culinary delights from upcoming festivals. The New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism encourages travelers to start planning a weekend getaway to experience some of the highlights of the season throughout the state, where there is a celebration in virtually any direction!
Cherry Blossom Festival
One of the preeminent annual events in northern New Jersey is the Cherry Blossom Festival in Newark’s Branch Brook Park. This year, the city is celebrating the blooming of thousands of Japanese Cherry Blossom trees in the 23-acre park. In fact, Branch Brook Park holds the distinction of the first county park in the US open to the public; it was designed by the famed landscape architecture firm of Olmsted Brothers; who in turn is a successor to Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park in New York City. The colorful hue of Newark’s park comes from a donation made by Caroline Bamburger Fuld in 1927; she donated 2,000 cherry blossom trees in memory of her late husband. Click here to see Branch Brook’s calendar of events.
Cape May Jazz Festival
Interested in listening to iconic American music? The 33rd Cape May Jazz Festival will be hosted at venues throughout the historic seaside city April 16-18, 2010. This spring’s festival kicks off with Spyro Gyra and features other artists like: Shemekia Copeland, Tim Warfield, Chuchito Valdes, B.D. Lenz, Amy Shook and Charles Walker. Click here for the full list of performers.
Along the banks of the Delaware River in downtown Lambertville, visitors turn out in droves for the state’s Annual Shad Festival, which has evolved over the decades from a local art show into a nationally recognized, award-winning event. Each year the festival is timed to take place when shad move up river from the ocean to spawn. For 2010, on April 24 and 25 visitors will enjoy steamboat rides on the Delaware, carriage rides and guided walking tours of historic Lambertville, incredible food and family entertainment, the region’s arts and crafts and, of course, the ever popular shad. Local fishermen will show attendees the traditional seine technique of fishing by using large nets, which was originally taught to early settlers by the Native Americans in the area to catch the shad, or river herring. Click here for details.
Seaside Music Festival
Next on our list of springs festivals is the Seaside Music Fest. About half way up the Atlantic coast of the Jersey Shore is Seaside Heights, which is home to the Seaside Music Festival. This free four-day festival from May 20 – 22 brings together music performances, special events, a car show, and visitors who just want to start summer a little early. This unofficial kickoff to summer will rock the Jersey Shore destination with multiple stages, local performers, Saturday-night fireworks on the boardwalk, surfing and wakeboard clinics, a volleyball tournament, and boardwalk rides and amusements will be open for business. Click here for updates.
Wildwoods International Kite Festival
At the state’s southern tip, the Wildwoods International Kite Festival kicks off in May. First, it starts with the Unlocking of the Ocean Ceremony on the beach near the Wildwoods Convention Center. During this time, the sky fills with kites of all colors, shapes and sizes. They also have Nite-kite shows with illuminated kites of all kinds, and the East Coast Stunt Kite Championships. Finally, visitors have the chance to meet guest kite makers and enjoy free kite-flying lessons; they can also listen to musical performances, and best of all, enjoy the classic beach and boardwalk in Wildwood. Find photos of the event here.