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The Jefferson Memorial peeks through the cherry blossoms, Washington DC's springtime signature.
The Jefferson Memorial peeks through the cherry blossoms, Washington DC's springtime signature.

5 Things You Need to Know About the National Cherry Blossom Festival


If there’s anything you need to know about the National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20-April 17), it’s all right here:

1. When do the cherry blossoms bloom?
This popular question has a different answer year to year. The average peak bloom date, when 70% of the flowers of the cherry blossom trees are open, is April 4. The peak bloom date last year occurred on April 10.  In the past, peak bloom has occurred as early as March 15 and as late as April 18, according to the National Park Service. The entire blooming period can last up to 14 days, which includes the days leading up to peak bloom.

NPS offers the official peak bloom prediction on its website, which indicates that “it is nearly impossible to give an accurate forecast much more than 10 days before the peak bloom.” So, check back in March.

2. Where can you see the cherry blossoms?
During the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the most popular place to visit the cherry blossom trees is at the Tidal Basin, which provides great photo ops near the Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

The majority of blossoms are located near the Tidal Basin and along the shoreline of East Potomac Park, extending all the way to Hains Point. Meanwhile, small clusters of trees can be found along the National Mall, just northwest of the Lincoln Memorial and around the Washington Monument. Click the National Park Service’s easy-to-follow National Cherry Blossom Festival map for a visual guide to viewing the blossoms.

Off-the-radar cherry blossom trees can be found at the U.S. National Arboretum, Anacostia Park, Stanton Park and Oxon Run Park.

3. What time of day should you visit?
First off, there is no bad time to visit the cherry blossoms. Any time you get to see them is time well spent. During the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the least busy time to visit the cherry blossoms is in the early morning or early evening. You can expect more people on weekends and when the blooms are peaking.

4. What National Cherry Blossom Festival events are going on?
Family-friendly activities, exciting events and fundraisers occur throughout the festival. The major events include:
March 26 – National Cherry Blossom Festival’s Opening Ceremony
April 2 – Blossom Kite Festival
April 16 – Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival and the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade presented by Events DC

Click our rundown of National Cherry Blossom Festival Events to learn more about these and other happenings.

5. How else can I experience the National Cherry Blossom Festival in DC?
The National Cherry Blossom Festival sweeps the entire city. Many area hotels offer special cherry blossom-themed packages, which, in addition to discounts, may include a free bloom-inspired cocktail, chocolates, meals or more. You can book a hotel package today.

Select restaurants also get in the celebratory spirit and participate in the Cherry Picks program, which brings a cherry blossom- and spring-inspired theme to food and beverages. For instance, Juniper Restaurant at the Fairmont Washington D.C. offers cherry-bourbon-glazed salmon, Sakura (blossom) tea, a cocktail called the Sparkling Blossom, Cherry Blossom French Macaroons and more.

So, now that you have the basics down, you’re ready to go. Enjoy this year’s festival!

Read our complete Guide to the National Cherry Blossom Festival and visit the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s website for more information on this year’s festival.