Celebrate Spring with Millions of Blossoms
As warmer days drift in, the spring weather cues the cherry blossom trees, and they explode with pink petals. For a two-week period every March and April, Washington, DC, is awash with blooming cherry blossoms. The iconic blooms have inspired the three-week National Cherry Blossom Festival that involves everything the capital city does so well: food, fireworks, parades and celebrations. This year’s festival takes place March 20 through April 12. Making the easy drive down to DC to usher in the season is a must-do.
Visitors often ask when the best time to go is, and the answer, like so many things in life, depends upon the weather. The average peak bloom date, or when 70 percent of the blossoms are open, is April 4. But that date can swing from March 15 to April 18. The good news: The blooming period lasts up to 14 days, so you’re likely to see a good amount of color whenever you choose to visit.
Pick your dates now, though, because the cherry blossoms and their namesake festival draw a crowd. Many Washington, DC, hotels offer special packages. The Embassy Row Hotel’s Cherry Blossom Package runs from March 18 to May 15 and includes two free cherry blossom cocktails and a cherry blossom gift bag. The Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown, located in the fashionable West End area near Georgetown, offers a Cherry Blossom Festival Package that comes with notecards depicting Washington, DC’s famous national treasures. Don’t forget to make reservations at one of several “Cherry Picks” restaurants, which boast creative spring menus in honor of the festival.
As you decide on travel dates, check out the list of festival events. The Opening Ceremony on March 21 commemorates the festival’s history, which dates back to 1912 when the Tokyo Mayor presented the nation’s capital, with a gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees. The festival and its events honor the close relationship between the United States and Japan. The Blossom Kite Festival takes place on March 28 when kites soar above the grounds around the Washington Monument. The festivities continue with the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival on April 4 and the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on April 11.
The Cherry Blossom Festival attracts photographers of all levels, from professionals capturing the capital city at its finest to amateurs preserving family memories. Stand at The Jefferson Memorial, and you’ll catch an idyllic view of the Tidal Basin lined in pink, or take a paddleboat ride and soak in the view from the water. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is home to 182 of the newest cherry blossom trees, planted in 2011 to celebration the memorial’s opening. The Japanese Lantern, lit each year by the Cherry Blossom Princess, is a true reminder of the festival’s history. Depending on the timing of your visit, the U.S. National Arboretum might be your best photo option. The blooms here peak at a different time than the Tidal Basin trees.
Springtime offers a quintessential Washington, DC, experience whether for a day date or weekend escape. Click here to plan your cherry blossom excursion.This is a paid partnership between Destination DC and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio