You know spring is in the air when the weather starts to get warmer and flowers are in bloom. Nothing is more beautiful than the the arrival of Spring in our Nations capital though. The Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin are most definitely a must see. So much in fact, that over a million people come to visit Washington, DC each year to experience the annual Cherry Blossom Festival and breath taking views. This year festivities will take place for three weeks from March 20 – April 14, 2019.
HISTORY AND FUN FACTS
Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries.
- The average lifespan of a cherry blossom tree is only 20 to 30 years, but nearly 100 of the original trees from 1912 still thrive at the Tidal Basin due to the maintenance of the National Park Service.
- Over 1.5 million people attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival each year.
- The first “festival” began as a small celebration in 1927, and expanded to a two-week event in 1994. In 2012, for the 100th anniversary of the trees, the festival became a five-week celebration.
- The festival offers over 200 free performances.
- The festival adds new cherry blossom trees to the region each spring. In 2012 and 2013, staff and volunteers planted 200 trees in DC’s Oxon Run Park.
- When the weather conditions are right, cherry trees can stay in bloom for two weeks. The colorful springtime show is at its peak when about 70 percent of the blossoms are open.
- Currently some 3,720 cherry trees grow near the Washington Monument, in East Potomac Park, and at the Tidal Basin. Visitors can get spectacular views of the monuments and trees on the two-mile walk around the Tidal Basin.
- Each year, the festival reaches out to the community with its Neighborhood Tree Planting Program. The program has helped plants hundreds of trees, including a grove of 200 in Oxon Run Park in southeast Washington, D.C.
***Fun facts courtesy of the National Cherry Blossom Festival organization.***
Each year the National Park Service measures the growth of the buds growing on the trees; they than provide a prediction for when they believe the peak bloom will arrive. Peak bloom is that perfect moment to see this remarkable spectacle; this is when the trees are in at the height of full bloom. Going at this time is most desirable if you want to be surrounded by a sea of pink and white. For 2019 the NPS predicts that the peak bloom period will occur between April 3-6. (The best recommended time to go is week after peak bloom.) Visit this link view the bloomEach year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries.
EVENTS AND MORE
The best way to get direct information about the National Cherry Blossom Festival is by visiting the official website; where you will find details about the festival and a list of events. What I love best about this festival is, it’s not just about celebrating; the events are really about education and culture. No matter what age or budget there is something for everyone. The festivities start off on March 22, 2019 with a Pink Tie Party; which is a fundraiser. The fun really kicks off the Opening Ceremony on March 23, 2019, this free event will be held at the Warner Theatre and will showcase traditional and contemporary performances from American and Japanese artists. You wont want to miss the popular Blossom Kite Festival on March 30, 2019. Our families favorite that we try to attend annually is the Petalpalooza taking place on April 6, 2019 and last but not least the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade is April 13, 2019. The events listed above are just the tip of the ice. Visit the National Cherry Blossom Event Page for a list of more events.
Visit their site for a full guide on bringing kids that offers, safety tips and insight into what to expect. Here are a few things to know before you go:
- There is a self-guided tour map available at the various Information Stations near the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Monument.
- Did you know that the National Park Services offers kids a Junior Ranger Program. To participate find a ranger stations and than participate in the activities at the monuments and memorial near the Cherry Blossom Festival to earn a badge. Be sure to check out special National Cherry Blossom Festival activity and badge.
- Restrooms are located near the Lincoln Memorial, the DC War Memorial south of the reflecting pool and the Smithsonian Castle. Additional portable facilities can be found through out the area. If you aren’t a fan of portable potty’s, keep in mind the Smithsonian museums are free, so you can access museum restrooms during usual business hours.
- If you have a four legged friend, dogs are allowed at the parks and National Mall, if leashed.
- If you want to avoid large crowds, try going earlier in the day. Early morning between 8 am and 10 am is the best time.
- View the tidal basin in a more remote location. The National Arboretum holds 42 different spots to take in the beauty of cherry blossoms. In Bethesda’s Kenwood neighborhood, more than 1,200 trees planted in 1929 by a pair of developers bloom along Kennedy Drive and Dorset and Kenwood avenues. Other stellar DC spots include: Oxon Run and Stanton parks as well as Dumbarton Oaks.