The National Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual celebration held in Washington, D.C. every mid-March to mid-April and this year it will be marked from March 20 to April 14. The dates are set to coincide with when cherry blossom trees are in full bloom. Did you know these trees were a gift from then Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki to the city of Washington, D.C.? Yes, the trees symbolize the growing friendship between the U.S. and Japan. So, be a part of this festival and enjoy one of the most beautiful sights in Washington, D.C.!
History of National Cherry Blossom Festival
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is organized by the National Cherry Blossom Festival Inc., an umbrella organization consisting of representatives from the business, civic, and government sectors. The three-week festival begins around the middle of March with the opening ceremony taking place at the Warner Theatre. The cherry blossom trees are located in three National Park Service locations: around the Tidal basin in West Potomac Park, in East Potomac Park, and within an area where the Washington Monument stands.
The first cherry blossom festival was held in late 1934 under the joint sponsorship of numerous civic groups. It was only in 1935 that the festival became a national annual event. In 1937, the Garden Club of America commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the gifting of cherry blossom trees (which took place in March 1912) by gifting 5,000 flowering trees and plants to Japan. Initially, the festival would last only for a number of days but in 1994, organizers of the event extended it to two weeks. This was done to accommodate the event’s myriad activities which include, among other things, the releasing of helium balloons, performances by marching bands that come from different parts of the U.S, and other musical events.
Usually, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is planned to coincide as nearly as possible with the blooming of the trees. The authorities determine the peak bloom date, that is, the day when 70% of the blossoms of the cherry trees are open. This is why the dates of the National Cherry Bloom Festival vary from year to year, depending on weather conditions.
National Cherry Blossom Festival timeline
Eliza Scidmore, a travel writer and photographer, approaches U.S. government officials with the idea to plant cherry trees along the Potomac River.
David Fairchild, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official, successfully grows on his own property 100 flowering cherry blossom trees imported from Japan.
The mayor of Tokyo gifts 3,000 cherry blossom trees to the city of Washington, D.C.
The first cherry blossom festival is celebrated in Washington, D.C.
National Cherry Blossom Festival FAQs
When is the best time to see these cherry blossoms?
There’s no bad time to see the blossoms! But visitors should be prepared for bigger crowds on weekends, and when the trees reach their peak blooming period.
Who takes care of these trees?
The task of caring for the cherry trees has been entrusted to the members of the Tree Crew for National Capital Parks-Central.
Are visitors required to buy tickets to the festival?
Although many of the events are free and open to the public, there are a few events that require visitors to purchase a ticket. You can browse the events page for listings and see which events have admission fees.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Activities
Attend the festival
Experience the sights and sounds of the festival. It is an entertaining extravaganza that kids and adults will enjoy. So, start planning your trip!
Perform at the festival
Enroll in the Sing into Spring vocal competition or check out opportunities in the performing and visual arts. There is bound to be something you can participate in.
Share your story
If you have visited the National Cherry Blossom Festival, share some of your interesting stories on social media. Don’t forget to attach some photos.
5 Intriguing Facts About Cherry Blossoms
They are a top-selling fragrance
Cherry blossoms make up the top-selling fragrance in the U.S.
There is a cherry blossom capital
Macon in the state of Georgia holds the title “Cherry Blossom Capital of the World.”
They are originally from India
Cherry blossoms likely originated in the Himalayas before they were brought to Japan.
Yoshino is the most popular variety
The most popular variety of cherry blossom trees is the Yoshino.
They are not always pink
The color of the flowers can range from pale pink to white and ivory.
Why We Love National Cherry Blossom Festival
It’s all about history
Looking at the pretty flowers of the cherry blossom trees brings us the joy of spring. It also reminds us of the rich history of the U.S. and Japan.
It’s a symbol of friendship
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a symbol of friendship between Japan and the U.S. We get to celebrate two great countries.
It’s a much-needed break
The festival with its beautiful scenery offers a break from our everyday routine. It’s time to chill and breathe in this fragrant beauty!
National Cherry Blossom Festival dates