National Cherry Blossom Festival: Top Experiences

Get insider tips for Washington, DC's most anticipated annual event, when 3,000 cherry trees bloom to life.

Cherry Blossoms, Washington DC, DC, festival, tidal basin, Jefferson Memorial, National Cherry Blossom Festival, USA
Admiring the cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin
Cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin, Washington, DC
Viewing the cherry blossoms from a paddleboat
Washington DC Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry trees in bloom near the Jefferson Memorial
Cherry Blossoms near the Washington Monument in DC
Cherry blossoms near the Washington Monument
Cherry Blossom, bicycle, bike, tour, Washington DC
Book a Blossom Tour with Bike and Roll
Kites flying at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC
The Blossom Kite Festival
Cherry Blossoms, Washington DC, DC, festival, tidal basin, Jefferson Memorial, National Cherry Blossom Festival, USA
Cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin, Washington, DC
Washington DC Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossoms near the Washington Monument in DC
Cherry Blossom, bicycle, bike, tour, Washington DC
Kites flying at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC

Back in 1912, the mayor of Tokyo gave the city of Washington, DC 3,000 cherry trees to honour the friendship between the United States and Japan.

Today, the pink-and-white blooms are one of the area’s most beloved sights and the National Cherry Blossom Festival is the region’s most popular event, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors over several weeks in March and April. Here are some of the most fun and photo-worthy top festival experiences:

Admiring the Cherry Blossoms

See the famous flowering trees with a stroll along Independence Avenue, along the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial or take a free tour with a guide who will recount the history of how the trees came to Washington, DC. To enjoy the view from the water, rent paddleboats at the Tidal Basin. There are also Potomac River cruises that offer stunning views of the monuments and cherry trees. Take an extensive tour of the blossoms by bicycle with Bike and Roll's two-hour-long Blossoms By Bike tour, the official bike tour of the festival. Peak bloom typically occurs in early April, but the timing depends on the weather and varies annually.

Enjoying the Opening Ceremony & Cultural Events

Take your pick from hundreds of international cultural performances. Highlights include a star-studded show of music and dance at the Opening Ceremony; daily performances of theatre, dance and martial arts at the Sylvan Stage on the National Mall; and the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival. This popular festival-within-a-festival, the largest Japanese cultural festival in the United States, features food, music, martial arts demonstrations and more.

Cheering at the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade

Celebrate springtime and the blooms perfuming the air at the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. Each year massive balloons, elaborate floats, celebrity entertainers and marching bands from across the nation merrily make their way down Constitution Avenue. Get there early for the best views of the jovial procession on the parade route from the National Archives to the Washington Monument.

Sampling Celebratory Cherry Cuisine

Throughout the festival, visitors will be able to feast on foods that celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Restaurants serve creative cherry-infused cocktails, appetisers and main courses, and they decorate plates and glasses with blossoms. Multi-course menus inspired by the festival pay tribute to America’s friendship with Japan. Sample several blossom-inspired dishes on one of Carpe DC Food Tours' Tastes of Spring Cherry Blossom Food Crawls through Washington, DC or Alexandria, Virginia. 

Seeing Kids’ Imaginations Soar at the Kite Festival

From a photo safari to special museum exhibits, the National Cherry Blossom Festival features activities for kids of all ages. One of the most popular events for children is the Blossom Kite Festival that takes place in late March, showcasing creative kite makers and hosting competitions where fliers show off their sky-high tricks.

Watching Romance Bloom Throughout DC

Spring is clearly in the air during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, but so is love. There are a variety of ways to enjoy the blooms together. By day, picnic under the trees with a special cherry-inspired basket from a local restaurant. By night, watch fireworks illuminate the sky during Petalpalooza, a festival featuring live music, games, fireworks, free giveaways and more in DC's newest waterfront neighbourhood, The Wharf. 

 

Visiting the Capital Region during another season? 
Check out these top monthly events and seasonal trip ideas!

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Outdoors & Nature
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History & Culture
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