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National Cherry Blossom Festival Events

Cherry blossoms

Not just dazzling the Tidal Basin, the cherry blossoms are celebrated throughout the entire city.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival, a three-week, citywide festival celebrates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees to Washington, DC by the mayor of Tokyo. The festival features a range of spectacular events, from its eponymous kite extravaganza on the National Mall to fun cultural experiences like sake tastings. Local restaurants even get into the spirit with the Cherry Picks program, featuring cherry blossom-themed food and drink items. And it all leads up to the capper: the storied National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade.

The average peak bloom date, when 70% of the flowers of the cherry blossom trees are open, is April 4. In the past, peak bloom has occurred as early as March 15 and as late as April 18, according to the National Park Service.  As a reminder, please, do your part in helping to protect the National Mall by never picking the cherry blossoms (it's against the law).

Below is a list of notable events, for a full list of the events, visit the National Cherry Blossom Festival website.

1 Pink Tie Party
Pink Tie Party Tim Evanson

Show off your duds and show your support for the blossoms at this exclusive pink tie fundraiser, where a $225 ticket will give you access to one sophisticated celebration. Mixologists go toe to toe with their own heady cherry blossom concoctions, while chefs also get into the spirit by rustling up spring-themed eats.

2 National Cherry Blossom Opening Ceremony
National Cherry Blossom Opening Ceremony Flickr user: kathmandu

Die-hard blossom-goers make a point to be official about their visit by reserving tickets to this free event. Experience the festival on stage, through traditional and contemporary performances at the Warner Theatre. *Note: There will be a $5 registration fee when tickets are claimed.

3 Japanese Culture Day at Library of Congress

Watch Japanese culture come to life at the Thomas Jefferson Building. The Library of Congress will introduce children and adults to Japanese life and culture through hands-on activities like origami, kimono-wearing and karate demonstrations by Tsuyoshi Takemori of DC Yamato-juku Karate Club. This free event will also feature special programming from the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC, covering Japanese life in the states, as well as Japanese cuisine. Past National Cherry Blossom Festival princesses will also plan to attend, teaching children the art of tiara-making.

4 Family Days presented with the National Building Museum

This free event is a favorite for kids. Take in Japanese-style design and art; or, let the kiddies create their own art or partake in other exciting activities.

5 Blossom Kite Festival
Blossom Kite Festival Victoria Pickering

Head to the Washington Monument for this kite-flying festival. Watch expert kite fliers from all over the world participate in the Hot Tricks Showdown, a stunt kite-flying event. Make sure you bring your camera.

6 Annual Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk

Lace up your sneakers for this stroll, which commemorates Japanese Americans and their experience during the Second World War. The walk begins and ends at the intersection of Louisiana & New Jersey Avenues NW, the site of the National Japanese American Memorial.

7 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run and 5K Run-Walk
Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run and 5K Run-Walk Sheila Brennan

Set up shop in East Potomac Park to catch views of runners participating in this year’s contest. The slots fill up quickly, so enter the lottery early or watch the race and cheer on the approximately 15,000 participants.

8 Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival Victoria Pickering

Music lovers, get ready for eight straight hours of free tunes at the Southwest Waterfront. Folks can stroll along the riverside for fresh seafood finds, and stick around for one of the best vistas for firework watching. Entertainment begins at 1pm and is capped off with fireworks at 8:30 p.m.

9 Sakura Matsuri - Japanese Street Festival

The largest Japanese cultural festival in the U.S., the Sakura Matsuri - Japanese Street Festival is an event for all ages. Enjoy live performances, food, merchandise and even martial arts demonstrations.

10 National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade presented by Events DC
National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade presented by Events DC Chase McAlpine

The culmination of the three-week festival yields arguably its most popular event: the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. Catch everything from giant helium balloons to elaborate floats to live musical performances. Hunker down in the grandstand, or walk along the parade route for free.

11 Events DC presents Cherry Blast!

Held at the Carnegie Library, this vibrant spectacle is a people-watcher's paradise. The event spotlights all things anime, from electric drifting competitions to cosplay and gaming. Adding to the mix is a chance to munch on Tokyo street food, to sip sake and to make your own maki (sushi rolls). It all culminates in a wild Japanese-inspired dance party

12 Anacostia River Festival

This year’s Anacostia River Festival celebrates the river and connecting people to parks in recognition of the National Park Service’s Centennial. Activities include hands-on art projects, kayaking and canoeing, live music and performances, and much more. Held in Anacostia Park, this free event encourages residents and tourists alike to explore the communities and parks east of the river.

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.