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Guide to the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC - The Best Things to Do This Spring in DC

Guide to the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC

Peak bloom for the cherry blossoms began on March 28

Everything you need to know about DC’s cherry blossom trees and the National Cherry Blossom Festival can be found right here.

Nothing signifies the arrival of spring in the nation's capital quite like the blooming of the cherry blossom trees and the National Cherry Blossom Festival to celebrate the occasion. Visitors descend upon Washington, DC each year to admire the 3,000-plus trees. The festival, which runs from March 20 – April 11, 2021, is full of both virtual and in-person events that honor American and Japanese cultures and represents a close bond forged between the two countries that began with Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki’s gift of the trees back in 1912.

Speaking of trees: you can assist in the effort to preserve and protect DC's iconic cherry trees through the Trust for the National Mall's Endow a Cherry Tree campaign.


In accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and DC Health and in consultation with the National Park Service Office of Public Health, the National Park Service will limit all vehicular and pedestrian access to the Tidal Basin, East Potomac Park and West Potomac Park during the peak bloom period of the cherry blossoms as a public health precaution to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  The start and end dates of any restrictions are dependent on the bloom cycle of the trees, but are currently projected to fall between approximately March 26 and April 12. Updates will be posted the National Park Service's website and on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts dedicated to the National Mall.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is March 20 - April 11 and offers many virtual and in-person events, activities and other ways to celebrate the season.

To ensure the health/safety of our communities, it is recommended for all to enjoy the festival virtually this year and see the cherry blossoms via the live BloomCam. If you find yourself in DC, please observe all health/safety protocols and travel guidelines. Visit nps.gov/nationalmall for the latest safety information about seeing the blossoms.

Tell me more about DC's cherry blossoms and peak bloom

 

Peak bloom is the magical moment visitors want to be on hand for during the cherry blossom season. The peak bloom date is defined as the day when 70 percent of the trees surrounding the Tidal Basin have opened their buds, creating an unforgettable sea of pink and white. The National Park Service (NPS) is responsible for measuring the growth of the buds of the trees and provides a prediction of when peak bloom will arrive each year. The organization provides a peak bloom prediction on its website each year; stay tuned for the 2021 update.

On average, peak bloom occurs around April 4, but that date changes year-to-year. For instance, 2016’s peak bloom occurred on March 26 due to extended warm winter weather, while 2018's bloom did not happen until April 6 due to a cold winter. The blooming period, when 20 percent of the blossoms are open before the petals and leaves fall, can last up to 14 days, depending on weather conditions. Just remember that "forecasting peak bloom is almost impossible more than 10 days in advance," according to NPS. The best viewing of the cherry blossom trees typically lasts four to seven days after peak bloom begins.

For more tips to help plan your visit, make sure to check out our list of things you need to know about the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Please do your part in helping to protect the National Mall and the cherry blossoms. We kindly remind you to enjoy the blossoms, but never pick them (it’s against the law).

More about the National Cherry Blossom Festival

Couple on Tidal Basin Paddleboats - National Cherry Blossom Festival - Washington, DC

Couple on Tidal Basin Paddleboats - National Cherry Blossom Festival - Washington, DC

The National Cherry Blossom Festival isn't just a celebration of the blossoms—it's a three-week-long cultural festival held across the city, with this year's edition offering virtual events and in-person opportunities. This year's virtual opening ceremony takes place on March 20, while the annual Pink Tie Party fundraiser will also take place online on March 26. The 2021 calendar also includes Art in Bloom, the Blossom Kite Fly (March 27-28), a Celebration Show (April 9) and the Petal Porch Parade (April 10-11).

How do I get to the cherry blossom trees surrounding the Tidal Basin?

There are many great ways to get to the stunning cherry blossom trees surrounding the Tidal Basin. The DC Circulator's National Mall route makes stops directly on the Tidal Basin at the Jefferson and Martin Luther King, Jr. memorials, as well as other popular sites near the cherry blossoms. Perhaps best of all, the DC Circulator is free to ride. If you're taking the Metro, use the Blue, Orange or Silver lines and exit at the Smithsonian Metro stop. From there, it’s a 10-15 minute walk to the Tidal Basin Welcome Area, located at 1501 Maine Avenue SW. Via Metrobus, the 32, 34 or 36 routes will drop you at the National Mall, near the Washington Monument. A 10-minute walk south will bring you to the welcome area. Please note that public transportation in the city may be operating on a modified schedule during your visit due to COVID-19.

For more information about getting to the blossoms, check out our guide to reaching the most-popular cherry blossom spots in DC, as well as less-populated areas for blossom revelry.

Where can I stay during the National Cherry Blossom Festival?

Celebrate springtime by checking out these National Cherry Blossom Festival hotel packages, deals, discounts and more at some of the city's best places to stay.

In addition to these hotel packages, many DC-area hotels offer special cherry blossom-themed deals and discounts, which may include a free bloom-inspired cocktail, chocolates, meals or more. Make sure to check out all the places to stay in Washington, DC.

Fun facts about Washington, DC’s cherry blossoms

  • The first donation of 2,000 trees, received in 1910, was burned on orders from President William Howard Taft. Insects and disease had infested the gift, but after hearing about the plight of the first batch, the Japanese mayor sent another 3,020 trees to DC two years later.
  • First Lady Helen Herron Taft planted the first tree in West Potomac Park. Many First Ladies, including Mamie Eisenhower, Lady Bird Johnson, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush, have officially commemorated the blossoms. On March 27, 2012, Michelle Obama took up the cause by planting a cherry tree to mark the centennial of the blossoms.
  • One of the earliest recorded peak blooms occurred on March 15, 1990, while the latest recorded peak bloom occurred on April 18, 1958.
  • The majority of the cherry blossom trees around the Tidal Basin are of the Yoshino variety. But another species, the Kwanzan, usually blooms two weeks after the Yoshino trees, giving visitors a second chance to catch the blossoms.
Your ultimate guide to the cherry blossoms and springtime in Washington, DC

Your ultimate guide to the cherry blossoms and springtime in Washington, DC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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