Events, Festivals and Exhibitions

National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington DC

20 March - 14 April

Free – $250

Washington DC explodes with colour for the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

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Anyone who has visited the US capital during Spring will find it impossible to forget the overwhelming sight of hundreds upon hundreds of delicate flowering cherry trees, looking like canopies of snowflakes, an event celebrated with the National Cherry Blossom Festival Washington DC.

The trees are mainly Yoshino cherries grown in three different parks in DC, located around the Tidal Basin, the East Potomac Park and the Washington Monument. There are 3,750 cherry trees in the Tidal Basin alone.

National Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry trees in bloom, c. Darid Luria

With this wealth of natural beauty, although cherry trees are not indigenous to the USA, it is unsurprising that the inhabitants of Washington DC would want to celebrate this floral heralding of Spring.

Origins of the Washington DC National Cherry Blossom Festival

So how did this major US festival come about?

In 1912, 3,000 cherry trees were given as a gift by Mayor Yokio Oraki of Tokyo to celebrate the closeness of the relationship between Japan and the United States. On March 27, Helen Herron Taft, the First Lady, together with Viscountess Chinda, the wife of Japan’s ambassador to the US, planted the first couple of cherry trees in West Potomac Park. The gift was reciprocated by the American Government in 1915 by sending some flowering dogwood to Japan. From this time, America’s First Ladies have been very involved in the festival and have been honorary chairs of the proceedings.

The cherry blossom season or Sakura is held in high esteem in Japan.

National Cherry Blossom Festival
The National Cherry Blossom Parade

Since those early days, America’s biggest spring time festival has expanded considerably. Its philosophy is to promote the beauty of nature and international friendship. In 1994, it ran over two weeks, but now takes place over four weekends. So what fun and delights does the festival have in store for us this year?

2024 National Cherry Blossom Festival Programme

23 March: The 2024 National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony will take place from 5pm to 6:30pm at the Warner Theatre. The ceremony will involve Naotaro Moriyama, composer Kaoru Watanabe, Jo Kanamori and dancers from The Washington Ballet Company. Tickets are free but you need to register and pay registration fee here.

30 March: Pink Tie Party; cocktails, food and walking the runway in cherry blossom pink from 7pm to 11pm at this gala event at Union Station. Tickets for $250 can be purchased here.

30 March: Blossom Kite Festival – kite flying and Japanese drums in this free event from 10am to 4pm at the Washington Monument Grounds as well as various parks across Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia.

6 April: Petalpalooza – free event along the Capitol Riverfront with art and music for all the family from 1pm to 9pm, concluding with the Official National Cherry Blossom Festival Fireworks Show from 8.30pm.

13 April: National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. From 10am to 12pm, tickets $25-40 can be purchased here. (see below for more details)

You can also tune into BloomCam to view the amazing blooms in real time.

For more cherry blossoms, check out Dallas Blooms.

Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossoms in Virginia

Cherry blossoms are not just reserved to the capital. They can be seen across the Potomac river in the state of Virginia. One great way of enjoying this experience is to take a Cherry Blossom Cruise through the old town of Alexandria. Or you could visit the many spring gardens that Virgina has to offer with an abundance of cherry blossoms. For more information on cherry blossoms in Virginia click here.

The National Cherry Blossom Parade
men in pink
The National Cherry Blossom Parade: Pretty in Pink

Traditionally the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade is the highlight of the show. This year it will take place on 13 April. Thousands of spectators line the route, as floats and marching bands from all over the country join the procession on Constitution Hill from 7th to 17th Street. It’s free to stand and watch, or you can buy a grandstand seat, bookable on line.

When is the National Cherry Blossom Festival 2024?

It is from 20 March to 14 April, 2024.

Further information on the National Cherry Blossom Festival Washington DC

For further information and tickets for the National Cherry Blossom Festival DC, click here.


20 March
14 April
Free – $250


Washington DC
Washington DC,United States+ Google Map

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Mike East

Mike East

Mike began his career in travel writing by writing his own guide on his holidays. He sent this manuscript off to a range of travel guide companies and got a range of rejection letters — all except one. Getting a contract to write for Roger Lascelles Publications on Trinidad and Tobago, and The Bahamas was how his career began. With this opportunity came other pieces for British magazines, The Sunday Telegraph and now Travel Begins at 40.

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