high park cherry blossoms 2020

High Park cherry blossoms in Toronto expected to reach peak bloom earlier this year

High Park's famous cherry blossom trees are on track to boom a bit earlier than usual for 2020, according a Toronto-based sakura expert, thanks to relatively mild winter temperatures and an abundance of precipitation.

Steven Joniak (aka Sakura Steve) just dropped the first of his highly-anticipated annual cherry blossom forecasts for High Park — the historic groves of which attract hundreds of thousands upon people every spring for the Japanese tradition of Sakura Hanami (cherry blossom viewing.)

"The Toronto cherry blossom season has officially begun!" reads SakuraInHighPark.com's first update of 2020, published Monday night. 

"Wonderful warm weather this past weekend offered the perfect opportunity to explore High Park and see just how the trees have survived the winter so far."

Sakura Steve reported after his first exploratory walk of the season on Sunday that cherry tree branches around Toronto's largest park were "full of well-shaped, round cherry blossom buds, with many of them in beautiful deep bronze colours."

"Overall, my anticipations quickly turned to exhilaration as I began to see a treasure trove of healthy-looking cherry blossoms buds on nearly all of the sakura trees," the dedicated sakura-watcher noted on his blog. "This was an incredible start for the first visit of 2020!"

Joniak updated his YouTube channel on Monday evening as well to share current footage of the now more-than-60-year-old cherry blossom trees, which were gifted by the City of Tokyo in 1959 to commemorate Toronto's support of Japanese-Canadian refugees after World War II.

"I was happy to see the trees all looked healthy and robust, with little signs of damage from the winter" he can be heard saying in his latest Sakura Watch video. 

"While taking a closer look at the blossom buds situated along the winding path down cherry hill, all indications were showing that they were developing well," he continued, noting that he was delighted to see much of the same along the shores of Grenadier Pond.

While it's impossible to predict exactly when High Park will experience its peak bloom period (when at least 70 per cent of all cherry tree blossoms are open) for 2020, Joniak says that all signs point to an early season.

"It's far too early to accurately predict and usually requires a number of visits for me to get a handle on the pace of development as well as correlating how they will react to the ever-unpredictable weather," he writes.

"We did have an early-season back in 2012, so time will tell. But for now, all signs are pointing to a possible bloom at some point between late April to early May."

It is of note that Vancouver and parts of Japan saw their cherry blossoms bud in February this year and are both predicting earlier-than-usual peak blooms, which typically last between 4 and 10 days.

No word yet on whether cars will be banned in High Park again this season during the sakura festival, but I can almost definitively say that the park will be packed as usual once the gorgeous pink blossoms finally emerge from their buds.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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