For around two weeks each year the trees here draw visitors and locals alike in droves to enjoy the colourful display of pink and white blossoms. You may even spot a lone red blossom as I did one year but making the flora even more wonderful is the picturesque lake in the centre with its tea house and the pristine peacocks roaming around the gardens. Photo opportunities abound and many dress up in costume for the event.
In previous years all the activities were over two weekends but this year they're mixing it up a bit with events during the week as well. Both modern and traditional Japanese culture come together through music and performance with brand new additions to the fold that include movies, a silent disco and more.
Kicking off the festival on Friday night is Yozakura, meaning night cherry blossom, a traditional night held in Japan during the cherry blossom season and for the first time at this festival you can do a VIP night blossom viewing where you wander through an illuminated garden before you sit back relaxing outdoors enjoying an exclusive movie screening. The most successful animated Japanese film Your Name (2016) will show on 18 August, whilst on 25 August you can watch Shin Godzilla, winner of the Japanese Academy Prize for Best Picture and Best Director in 2017. On from 5.30-9.30pm, it costs $15 for one night and is limited to pre-sales only. You can view the trailers and get your tickets here. Tsuru food truck will be on hand serving Asian street food should you find yourself hungry.
Speaking of food, on the weekends, Japanese food will be in abundance with a village set up hosting several food trucks and restaurants. There's everything from noodles and Sashimi from Masyua to Katsu curry from Kenta's Katsu and Japanese-inspired hot dogs from J Dogs. Or perhaps a Bento Box, a pork belly Bao bun, Teriyaki chicken wings and Japanese pancakes are up your alley. If you're wanting something other than Japanese for lunch, don't despair as there is an international food court and picnic area across the road between the aviary and the Peacock Gallery. Food here includes Gozleme, Vietnamese from both Trang's Kitchen and Mama Linh's, Korean BBQ, Yum Cha, Mr Creamy's ice creams and milkshakes, and Grab a Cino with their coffee cart.
All that food requires a liquid wash down. Adults (18 & over) can do so with Asahi beer, imported Sake or plum wine at the new Izakaya Bar. You can also learn more about Sake with a Sake appreciation workshop on Sundays.
The first weekend also sees a Love your Leftovers stage with Season 2 Masterchef Australia winner Adam Liaw hosting Japanese food demonstrations and making dishes using leftovers. See him at 12pm and 2pm for all the how to's.
On the second weekend, you can work off the food by joining Japanese DJ legend Teddy Loid for the Hush! Silent Disco and Cosplay Jam. J Pop music and headsets are provided for a one on one dance experience with The Little Raven set at 1pm, Jadeabella at 2pm and Teddyloid at 3pm. Don your best costume and put on your dancing shoes for some fun.
The Sumo wrestlers are back in the gardens with their own stadium. Watch a professional Sumo match, cheer them on as they compete for the Sakura Cup, and learn the history and traditions of this noble sport. Matches take place at 11.30am, 1pm and 3pm on both weekends.
On the gallery side of the road at the Kyoto stage, be further entertained on weekends with Taiko drumming and percussion, Koto (Japanese stringed musical instrument) and Shakuhachi (Japanese end-blown flute) performances.
Craft-wise, local artists from the Auburn Arts Studio (next to the Peacock Gallery) will run daily Origami workshops for both adults and children. You can then add your piece to the community display or take it home with you.
At the Peacock Gallery there is a Kimono display on certain days and for further craft you can make your own blossom-inspired costume or floral headwear as part of the Bayanihan Philippine Art Project. You can then wear your output by joining the Spring Parade on 2 September.
Many dress up for the day in both traditional Kimonos and modern costumes
Plant-wise, if you want to learn more about the blossoms and other plants in the gardens then you might want to take a guided tour with one of the gardens' horticulturists. They run at 10am and 1pm on selected dates.
Learn more on these fabulous blossoms from experts
There's also a Garden Clinic on 22 August with Graham Ross from Better Homes and Gardens giving talks on the blossoms at the Garden Stage at 12pm and 3pm. He knows his stuff, having hosted multiple tours to cherry blossom season in Japan. The garden stage will also host a Bonsai workshop and Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) demonstrations.
A special Seniors Day has been arranged as well this year for 24 August with traditional music performances to be enjoyed from 11am-1pm at the Garden stage and a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at the Peacock Gallery.
If you're a budding photographer and just want to get some great photos of the blossoms without the crowds then the best time to visit is during the week. On 21, 23 & 25 August they are having Serenity days for you to tour the cherry blossom trail at your own pace and discover the Cherry Arbour, the Cherry Grove, the Hanami Lawn Cherries and the Cherry Alley.
With so much to enjoy, plan your day/s to get the most out of what's on here. Timings and further details can be found on the council's website.
The gardens are located on the corner of Chiswick and Chisholm Roads with entry free for Cumberland residents and children under 16 years of age. For visitors living outside the area, entry is $5 per person.
A free shuttle bus operates on the weekends to and from Auburn train station between 9am and 5pm. If you want to drive, there is quite a bit of parking but best to arrive early to get a spot.
Let the sun shine bright for this beautiful flowering season!