As flowers and trees start to bloom, the migratory birds return, and the days grow longer and the weather grows warmer, NYC Parks is excited to welcome spring back to the city! To celebrate, Parks’ horticulturists are sharing their top 5 favorite flowers to look for in parks across the city, which New Yorkers can track on the Signs of Spring page. Residents are also invited to join the Urban Park Rangers for free spring tours, visit any of our 300+ miles of hiking trails and birding locations, and more to welcome the season!
In addition, The Green-Wood Cemetery is another great location to view these elegant ornaments of nature, boasting 172 cherry blossom trees throughout their 478 acres.
With Spring just around the corner, Green-Wood has planned a plethora of programs—from Concerts in the Catacombs to fascinating history tours—throughout the season. Much more than a cemetery, Green-Wood is constantly transforming the urban green space to serve as a unique venue for a wide-range of fascinating programs.
“This new season provides ample opportunities for first-time and long-time visitors to discover Green-Wood anew.”’ says Harry Weil, director of public programs and special projects at Green-Wood. “Events, concerts, and installations highlight the beauty and history of the Cemetery, with artists and performers engaging the site in dynamic never before seen ways.”
Throughout the season, visitors can hop aboard the trolley to Discover Green-Wood every Saturday. Or, for those who prefer to stretch their legs, walking tours provide connoisseurs of all sorts an opportunity to indulge: Early-morning Birding, Great Trees, Green-Wood at Night, and many more! Visitors can also attend a diverse line-up of arts and cultural programs—performances and exhibitions drawing on the Cemetery’s history and landscape for inspiration. And for those with an avid curiosity, Green-Wood’s death education programs explore themes of death and dying across experiences and cultures.
Among the highlights of the season are:
Hanami Festival: (Wednesday, April 20th) Translated from the Japanese as “flower viewing,” the Hanami festival celebrates the spring season with music and entertainment set among Green-Wood’s extensive collection of flowering trees as they come into full bloom. On Wednesday, April 20th, from 6:00pm–8:00pm, the iconic NYC green space will be open after hours for a night of music, entertainment, and opportunities to learn more about the Cemetery’s arboretum and wildlife.
Visitors will stroll the winding paths of the cemetery, including its famous cherry allée, while taking in the beautiful sights of these natural wonders. Green-Wood boasts 172 cherry blossoms within its collection of fauna, featuring two species that are traditionally celebrated in Hanami festivals; the Yoshino Cherry and the Kanzan Japanese Flowering Cherry.
“Hanami Festival is an incredible example of what makes Green-Wood a true cultural landmark of New York City,” says Harry Weil, director of public programs and special projects of The Green-Wood Cemetery. “It’s amazing to see our community coming together to appreciate the natural beauty of one of New York City’s greatest green spaces.”
Flower-viewers can immerse themselves in this cultural event while enjoying sweet and savory treats from Japan Village in Industry City. For those of drinking age, We Sake will offer samples of their crisp and smooth Junmai Ginjo style Japanese sake.
A Day in the Life of a Mortuary Science Student: (Thursday, March 31st) Hear from mortuary science students and graduates as a part of Green-Wood’s “A Day in the Life” series, which brings together those in the death-care field for lively conversations on the intricacies of their trade and to answer your questions about end-of-life care.
A Night at Niblo’s Garden: (Thursday and Friday, July 28th and 29th) A Victorian extravaganza like none other! Set around beautiful Crescent Water this evening features a dazzling array of nineteenth-century showmanship under the starry summer skies. Bring a blanket and a picnic!
Concerts in the Catacombs: (April–September, various dates) Curated by acclaimed composer, Broadway star, and vocalist Gelsey Bell, this series features a diverse range of musicians—including Palestinian Kanun (Mediterranean Zither) player and composer Firas Zreik and electro-acoustic composer and improviser Zeena Parkins—in a space rarely open to the public.
Gardens as Cosmic Terrains, an art installation by Heidi Lau: (May 7th–June 26th; open Saturday & Sundays) Heidi Lau, Green-Wood’s first-ever artist in residence, will present the sculptures she created during her residency at the Cemetery. These were created specially for the Cemetery’s Catacombs.
Memorial Day Concert: (Monday, May 30th) After a two-year hiatus, Green-Wood’s annual Memorial Day concert is back to kick off the summer. Bring a picnic, sit back, and enjoy the music by composers who are interred at Green-Wood, including Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson, selections from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein, and many more, plus patriotic favorites of course. Fred Ebb, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Leonard Bernstein, and others.
Revolutionary Spirits: (Saturdays, April 9th, May 14th, and June 11th) This special event in partnership with Fort Hamilton Distillery kicks off with a trolley tour of the Cemetery to discover the Who’s Who of the Revolutionary War and the distillers who made their mark on the young Republic, followed by a whiskey tasting in Industry City.
Gay Green-Wood: (May 15th) A themed trolley tour highlighting important LGBTQ+ figures including “It’s Raining Men” co-writer, Paul Jabara; sculptor of Bethesda Fountain, Emma Stebbins; activists and founders of the Hetrick Martin Institute, Drs. Emery Hetrick and Damien Martin, among others.
Visit the 478 acres of art, history and nature in full-bloom at Green-Wood Cemetery, main entrance at Fifth Avenue and 25th Street in Brooklyn, NY. Track the Seasons at Green-Wood. See more on a Trolley Tour.
“Spring is the most exciting time in our parks, and it stirs a localized wanderlust only experienced through a stroll through one of our greenspaces. Our city continues to recover, and I hope each and every blossom parkgoers see instills a sense of unique beauty and pride towards our parks and city,” said NYC Parks Horticulture Director Matthew Morrow. “As our park flowers begin to poke through the topsoil, I urge New Yorkers to stop and smell the flowers as they visit our parks, and take the season in stride – enjoy its beauty and surprise as it comes!”
Check out this list of the 10 best places to see Cherry Blossoms in our New York City Parks.
NYC Parks Horticulturalists’ Top 5 Park Spring Flowers & Flowering Trees:
5. Magnolias – For many New Yorkers, it’s officially springtime in NYC when magnolia trees are in bloom. Last year, star magnolias (which usually have white or pink and white flowers) were spotted in bloom in Washington Square Park in late March. The saucer magnolia flowers are pink and much larger and were spotted in bloom in early April.
4. Snowdrops – As winter winds down, snowdrops emerge from the frozen ground, usually in January or early February, as one of the earliest signs of spring. This year, snowdrops were spotted in Central Park and Washington Square Park in late January.
3. Eastern Redbud – Unlike all the other flowering plants, eastern redbud flowers grow directly from the branches (not from stems)! Their unique lavender-pink clusters of flower buds look like pom-poms on its branches. Last year, we spotted flowers on an eastern redbud in Carl Schurz Park in mid-April.
2. Red Maple trees – Usually one of the first trees to bloom in NYC, around early March. Look for tiny red buds on the branches. This year, we spotted red maple trees starting to bloom in Central Park during the second week of March.
1. Violets – Look out for tiny violets dotting our parks with their beauty in late spring as we begin to welcome a new season of flowers. Two amazing long beds flank the allee at Borough Hall, where a carpet of violets grow and bloom with the daffodils.
In addition to the Signs of Spring page tracking flowering plants in parks, Parks is welcoming the season with Ranger Tours, a “best places for birding” list, and over 300 miles of hiking trails for New Yorkers to get out and enjoy the spring air all across the city!
RANGER TOURS: Emerge from your winter hibernation with a sunny spring hike with the NYC Parks Urban Park Rangers! Search for buds, blooms, birds, and other signs of spring in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx on the Signs of Spring Hike, or take part in a Spring Scavenger Hunt in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.
HIKING GUIDE: There’s no need to head Upstate to experience nature in New York. Plan your next hiking trip right here in New York City, the perfect way to embrace spring! Our 300 miles of trails will take you through some of the oldest forests in the city, and past 10,000 acres of wild and untouched natural areas, glacial potholes, and bedrock you can see and touch! Visit Parks’ Hiking in Parks page for tips on the best hiking trails in the city.
SPRING BIRDING LOCATIONS: As the birds return to the city from their winter reprieve, there are no better places to catch a glimpse of raptors, songbirds, and rare waterfowl than in parks! New York City is situated on what is known as the Atlantic Flyway, a migratory path that many eastern species of birds follow during spring and fall migration. Some birds make epic journeys, from as far north as the Arctic, all the way to Central and South America. For the best locations to see Owls, Ospreys, Peregrine Falcons, and more of the birds that visit our city in the spring, visit the Birding in NYC Parks page.
Can’t make it out to a park? Enjoy these stunning scenes of blooming cherry trees taken today on one of Parks’ “Wednesday Walks” through Flushing Meadows Corona Park.