There is no more famous rite of spring than the annual blooming of the cherry trees along the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. This year more than 700,000 visitors will descend on the nation’s capital to witness the vibrant blossoms as they herald the coming of spring and kick off the month-long National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 17-April 15).
The festival kicks off with the Pink Tie Party on March 15, followed by the opening of the Tidal Basin Welcome Area and Performance Stage on March 17. The stage is home to visitor services, food booths, and souvenir stands, in addition to hosting free daily concerts and performances. It is the central hub for witnessing the blossoms and for experiencing the numerous family activities and cultural events associated with the festival, which commemorates the friendship between the U.S. and Japan.
A Gift of a Flower
Symbolizing rebirth and renewal, the world-famous cherry trees that line the Tidal Basin were gifted to the District by the nation of Japan in 1912. While over 3,000 trees of 12 different cultivars were planted that spring, today two types of blossom predominate: the Yoshino (~70%), with their singular, tufted white blossoms, and the Kwanzan (12.6%), which produces paired pink blossoms a few weeks later. This year the peak bloom – defined as when 70% of the Basin’s trees are in full bloom – is predicted for March 27-31 (as of March 12), putting it on track for the heart of the celebration. Regardless of when the brunt of the blossoms join the festival, the month-long celebration of Japanese culture, the two country’s friendship, community spirit, and, of course, cherry trees promises to be another in a long line of festivals dating back to the inaugural one in 1927.
Cherry Blossom Festival Events
Beginning with the traditional opening of the main stage and the Opening Ceremony of the Cherry Blossom Festival on March 25, these four weekends boast a wealth of fun, primarily free, family-friendly events for old and young alike. Cruise operators feature tours of the blossom-lined shores, gardens showcase their own beautiful flowers and vegetation with guided and self-guided tours, and galleries showcase the beauty of the flowers and the art they inspire in numerous mediums. For a full listing, be sure to visit the festival’s event page.
Surefire popular events include the Sakura Taiko Fest (March 25), the Cherry Blossom Food Crawl (March 31), and the Blossom Kite Festival (March 31) which features stunt kite performances, competitions, and kite building for all ages.
The crown jewel of the festival is the annual Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on April 14, from 10am to noon. Held on Constitution Avenue, the parade is 10 blocks of elaborate floats, majestic and colorful helium balloons, celebrity entertainers, and a visual spectacle of pageantry and performers. After the parade, be sure to stop by the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival in downtown, the largest celebration of Japanese culture in the country. Over 80 contributors put on more than 30 hours of programs, demonstrations, and activities featuring the art, culture, and food of Japan.
While we may not know exactly when the peak bloom will hit this spring, you can be certain you will have the perfect accommodations to explore D.C., the cherry blossoms, and all the wonderful events of the festival when you book your exclusive vacation rental through LUXbnb. We look forward to your visit! Click here to contact us!