National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington DC
March 20 - April 12
Anyone who has visited Washington DC during the 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 the US capital celebrates with the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
They are mainly Yoshino cherries and are 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.
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 National Cherry Blossom Festival
So how did the 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 National Cherry Blossom Festival and have been honorary chairs of the proceedings.
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 National Cherry Blossom Festival have in store for us this year?
National Cherry Blossom Festival Programme
The Opening Ceremony for the 2020 festival takes place on 21 March at 5pm at the Warner Theatre, with world-renowned performers celebrating springtime as a token of birth and renewal. Japan will gift more trees to show their commitment to international friendship. This event will take place at the Warner Theatre. Although the event is free, tickets need to be applied for in advance and there will be a $5 registration fee at the production of the ticket upon arrival.
For more cherry blossom, check out the Cherry Blossom Season Japan.
Fun for all the family, the Blossom Kite Festival will take place on 28 March from 10am to 4:30pm in the grounds of the Washington Monument. Entry is free and the nearest metro station is Smithsonian. It is the eighth anniversary of this event, which attracts kite flyers from all over America as well as internationally, some of whom take part in competitions. Children can make their own kites at various activity centres.
Another family event is the Petalpalooza on 11 April from 1pm to 9pm, with music, games and fireworks. The Wharf is magically transformed into a fun place with many stages activities, and a beer garden for the non-kids. Fireworks are scheduled for 8:30pm, weather permitting.
The Cherry Blossom Parade
The Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on 4 April (10am to noon) is the grand finale. Thousands of spectators line the route, as floats and marching bands from all over the country join the procession from 7th to 17th Street. It’s free to stand and watch, or you can buy a grandstand seat for $20, bookable on line.
When is the National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020?
It is from 20 March to 12 April, 2020.
Accommodation for the National Cherry Blossom Festival
If you are looking for accommodation in Washington DC during the festival, fill out the form below.
Further information on the National Cherry Blossom Festival
For further information and tickets, click here.
Festivals by Location
Festivals by Category
Latest Travel News
- January 21 - February 9
- January 23 - January 26
- January 23 - February 1
- January 23 - February 2
- January 25 - January 27