Other towns rely on robins or melting snow to tell them when spring has truly arrived. Washington, D.C. has cherry blossoms. Each year at the end of March or the beginning of April, the whole of the Tidal Basin gets a pink-and-white coating as the thousands of cherry trees ringing the water all bloom at once. Hundreds of thousands of people come to see the spectacle.
The trees first arrived at the Tidal Basin in 1912 as a gift from the people of Japan to the people of the United States. It’s only fitting, then, that the two-week National Cherry Blossom Festival has a distinctly Japanese flavor. The Japanese embassy shows Japanese movies and displays traditional art. The National Sushi Society holds a sake and sushi tasting. The Smithsonian sponsors a kite festival on the mall. It all peaks in a massive Japanese street fair featuring martial arts demonstrations, origami, koto players and rock bands, food from 20 different restaurants, sake, beer, and much more. There’s even a parade running down Constitution Avenue.
The Cherry Blossom Festival offers plenty of non-culturally-aligned events too. There are paddleboat rides, bike rides, and photo safaris; river cruises and guided tours; a soccer tournament, a rugby tournament, and a regatta. In short, the festival is Washington, D.C.’s excuse to get back outdoors after a long cold winter.
ALERT – February 5, 2021 – From The National Park Service Website
“We will be following guidance from the CDC and recommendations from DC. This will be updated with the newest information on Public Gatherings that would effect the Cherry Blossom Festival.” Visit www.nps.gov/subjects/cherryblossom/index.htm
The 2021 National Cherry Blossom Festival is scheduled to run from March 20 – April 11, 2021. For a full calendar of events, visit www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org. This event brings plenty of tourists to DC, so it’s a good idea to book a hotel reservation as early as possible. For 2021, festival events will be virtual, check out some of these events below.
Saturday, March 20, 2021: Virtual Opening Ceremony
Saturday, March 27, 2021: Virtual Pink Tie Party
Saturday, March 27, 2021 – Sunday, March 28, 2021: Blossom Kite Fly
Saturday, April 3, 2021: Sakura Matsuri – Virtual Community Gathering
Friday, April 9, 2021: Virtual Celebration Show
Photos of the Washington DC Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossom Festival
Admission: Most events are free.
Parking: For current information on parking, and getting around during the Cherry Blossom Festival, visit: www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/getting-to-the-blossoms/
Metrorail: Blue and Orange Line stops for Smithsonian.