March 20 – April 13.
Washington, DC welcomes the arrival of spring with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a tradition that showcases the beautiful gift of 3,000 cherry trees that the city of Tokyo gave to our nation’s capital. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual three-week, city-wide event featuring more than 200 international cultural performances and over 90 other special events. From arts and exhibits to cuisine and sports, there is something for everyone to enjoy!
The blossoming cherry trees symbolize the arrival of spring and brighten the area surrounding the Jefferson Memorial on the Tidal Basin with their vibrant pale pink and white flowers. See Frequently Asked Questions About the National Cherry Trees to learn more about these beautiful trees.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off the busy tourist season in Washington, DC and includes many special events near the monuments and the museums on the National Mall.
- Cherry Blossoms on the Tidal Basin
- National Cherry Blossom Festival (an overview of all events)
- Cherry Blossom Parade
- Sakura Matsuri - Japanese Street Festival
- Prelude to Fireworks on Southwest Waterfront
- Cherry Blossoms at Night
Getting to the Tidal Basin:Getting around the city during this popular event can be challenging, especially on the weekends. Parking is limited in the city, so the best way to get to the Tidal Basin and the National Mall is by public transportation. For tips on getting to the cherry blossoms and festival events, see my Cherry Blossom Festival Transportation Guide.
Best Things to do on the Tidal Basin
- Walk and Picnic - The best time to walk around and avoid the crowds is early morning. The view is just breathtaking and this is a great photo opportunity. You are free to bring your own picnic and enjoy the great weather.
- Paddle Boating - View the Jefferson Memorial and Japanese Cherry Trees from the water. Rent a paddle boat for $10.00 per hour - 2 passenger boat; $18.00 per hour - 4 passenger boat. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Free Cherry Blossom Walking Tours - Take a free tour with a National Park Service Ranger and learn about the history of the cherry blossom trees and more. Tours available are Cherry Talks/Walks, Junior Ranger Programs, and Lantern Tours.
- Cherry Blossom Cruises - Enjoy spectacular views of the cherry blossoms from a boat cruise.
- Bike the Sites Tour - Take a two-hour ride specifically designed for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Ride past Potomac Park, the Jefferson Memorial, Hains Point, Japanese lantern, and more.
- Visit the Jefferson Memorial - This is the most beautiful time of year to see the Jefferson Memorial and it's free.
- Enjoy free cultural performances - Daily entertainment includes traditional and contemporary music, dance, song and martial arts demonstrations.
- Guided City Tours - See Washington DC's top sights on a guided trolley tour, walking tour, by segway, by DC Duck and more.
- Enjoy a special meal at one of Washington's Cherry Picks - Restaurants around Washington, DC add cherries to many of their recipes during the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
- Attend the Special Events - A wide variety of events are associated with the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The most popular events include the Opening Ceremony, the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, the Sakura Matsuri- Japanese Street Festival and the Fireworks Display on the Southwest Waterfront.
See page 2 for a schedule of these events and more.