The National Cherry Blossom Festival is Washington, DC and the nation’s greatest springtime celebration. The 16-day extravaganza boasts three grand weekends amidst daily activities, mostly free and open to the public, drawing over one million visitors to the nation’s capital each year. This year marks the 99th anniversary of the gift of cherry blossom trees from Tokyo to Washington, DC.
Finding Information: The new website is an up-to-date source of information, and this year, the festival introduces its first mobile app for both iPhone and Android platforms. Follow the festival on Twitter and Facebook, and upon arrival, find information at the Tidal Basin Welcome Area and Festival Headquarters at Union Station.
Getting Around: Visitors and residents are encouraged to bike, walk, and use public transportation whenever possible. Those using Metro are encourage to purchase SmarTrips, and will receive a $.25 savings per trip. A One-Day Metrorail Pass is valid for unlimited trips on weekdays after 9:30am. Once again, the Washington Area Bicycle Association will have Bike Valets near the Jefferson Memorial. New this year, Capital Bikeshare will provide a staffed location at 12th Street and Independence Avenue from 11:00am to 5:00pm during the three festival weekends. If driving, Tourmobile Sightseeing offers a complimentary shuttle from East Potomac Park to the Tidal Basin. Shuttles run daily from 10:00am to 7:00pm at 30 to 40 minute intervals, with several designated hop-on/hop-off stops along the way to and from each destination. Looking for private transportation, Reston Limousine is offering special tours.
Throughout the festival, the Performance Stage at Sylvan Theater on the Washington Monument grounds will be the site of daily performances. Beginning at noon, eclectic music, dance and entertainment will keep guests on their feet. Restaurants get in the festival spirit, offering special cherry-inspired dishes and drinks with the Cherry Picks Program. Area hotels participate by offering blossom-inspired packages.
The festival begins on Saturday, March 26 with Family Day at the National Building Museum (401 F Street, NW). The free public event runs from 10:00am to 3:30pm, with plenty of hands-on activities for kids of all ages. The Opening Ceremony, 4:00pm to 5:30pm, showcases world-class traditional and contemporary entertainment. Also on opening weekend, the Blossom Kite Festival is on Sunday, March 27 from 10:00am to 4:00pm on the Washington Monument grounds.
Mid-festival weekend has the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival on Saturday, April 2 from 1:00 to 9:00pm (600-900 Water Street, SW), expanded this year to include even more family fun leading up to the Festival Fireworks Show at 8:30pm. For adults 21 and over, Cherry Blast: Art + Music Dance Party, is also April 2, from 8:00pm to midnight (700 Water Street, SW). The traditional Lantern Lighting Ceremony is Sunday, April 3, as well as National Cherry Blossom Festival Day at Nationals Park.
The grand finale weekend of the festival brings Petal Fest & Performance Stage on Woodrow Wilson Plaza on Friday and Saturday, April 8 and 9. The highly anticipated National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade® is on Saturday, April 9 at 10:00am, featuring a multitude of stars, marching bands, floats, and giant balloons. Following the parade, The Japan-America Society of Washington, DC presents the annual Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival, the largest of its kind, featuring Japanese pop culture, traditional crafts, cuisine, martial arts and more.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the beauty of nature and international friendship through year-round programs, events, and educational initiatives that enhance our environment, showcase arts and culture, and build community spirit.
Hotline: (877) 44-BLOOM