Spring is here, and in the District, it brings both the cherry blossoms and the many tourists who come to admire the flowers in all their glory. This year, the National Park Service predicts the peak bloom, or 70% of Yoshino cherry blossoms, will be March 22-25.
It’s a big year for flowers: 2022 marks the 110th birthday of Tokyo’s mayor Yukio Ozaki donation of 3,000 cherry trees to the District, and it is also the 95th year of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. And, after a two-year hiatus, the festival will finally go fully in-person again. (But if you’d rather stay safe by staying home, you can still catch the blooms via the #BloomCam, a 24/7 live, real-time view of trees in the Tidal Pool.)
Celebrated for four weeks, the festival attracts over 1.5 million people from all over, making it one of the region’s most popular events. Diana Mayhew, chairman of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, confirms that it’s not just for tourists. “It evolved to celebrate beyond the tidal pool, through food and cuisine, entertainment and culture,” she says.
To help festival newbs, or those who haven’t left their homes for two years, city paper has your essential guide to everything from notable events, transportation, and Parade 101.
There’s a parade?
Yes. The directory National Cherry Blossom Day Parade is one of DC’s most popular events this year, taking place on April 9 from 10 a.m. to noon. Expect the route to stretch along Constitution Avenue NW between 7th and 17th Streets NW. For the best seats in the house, reserved grandstand seating can be purchased for $30.
If you prefer to stand (for free) along the streets, Mayhew recommends posting between 9th and 17th streets NW for the best views. You can’t do it? ABC7 will air the event on April 17 at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.
How to get to the festival, that is to say the Tidal Basin, during these four weeks?
The best advice when it comes to driving in DC during the festival is: don’t.
Do not drive to the festival or the Tidal Basin. Unless you’re planning a pre-sunrise ride, there’s no reason to drive – and even if you drive early, it’ll be hard to leave with all the scheduled road closures. Parking will be limited.
Use the metro to get around, but plan ahead. Depart early in case of delays and check WMATA alerts online or via Twitter at @Metrorailinfo.
The water taxi is also an option. It offers mooring locations at the Wharf Transit Wharf, 950 Wharf St. SW; Georgetown at 3100 K St. NW; Alexandria City Marina at 0 Cameron St. in Alexandria and National Harbor at 145 National Plaza. Reservations can be made online or in person.
Capital Bikeshare is a great backup plan, especially for the parade. Several stations are near the route, including one at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW and another at 12th Street and Jefferson Drive SW. Use the website or app to get a map of all nearby stations and bike availability.
What events should I be excited about?
Petal porches brings a splash of color to the area by inspiring residents to decorate their homes until April 17.
the Blooming Kite Festival March 26 is a long-standing free tradition in the nation’s capital where people from across the region can participate by flying kites. On the grounds of the Washington Monument, children and adults can compete on the designs of their handmade and flown kites. Several other parks also host kite programs, including Palisades Recreation Field, Takoma Recreation Field, and Marvin Gaye Recreation Center, among others.
On April 3, National Harbor hosts its annual convention Sakura Sunday Festivalwhich will take place from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Considered the largest celebration of Japanese culture in the United States, Sakura Matsuri on April 9 and 10, is an unmissable event. The Japanese street festival began in 1960 as a community bazaar by the Japan-America Society of Washington DC. Since then, it has grown into a premier event, with up to 40,000 people attending on a single day, according to the JASWDC. Olivia Kent. The event includes activities, a Ginza Market (with Japanese homewares, accessories and artwork), a culinary arts stage, as well as Kirin Beer Gardens and Hakutsuru Sake Tasting Pavilion. Several food vendors will serve traditional Japanese snacks including takoyaki, onigiri, yakisoba, and more. Find it on Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 7th streets NW. $10 to $70 depending on package.
In Alexandria, the torpedo factory Cherry Blossom Jubilee takes place on April 10 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. with a live performance by the taiko drum group Nen Daiko.
Petalpalooza April 16 is a free, one-day event at the Capitol Riverfront featuring live music, interactive art installations, a beer garden, and family-friendly activities. A 15-minute choreographed fireworks display begins at 8:30 p.m.
For those who want to snoop around and tear up the ground, the pink tie dinner April 28 is perfect for bites, a cocktail with sushi and sake tasting and dishes prepared by TCMA’s Executive Chef Houman Gohary. Dancing and a silent auction resume after dinner. Don’t forget to put on your pink outfit! $250.
Enjoy the beauty of cherry blossoms through ARTECHOUSE’s immersive art installation, PIXELBLOOM. The main immersion gallery hosts a 22-minute audiovisual installation. This fifth annual spring-inspired exhibit is open to all ages until May 30.
Blooming artthe festival’s community-wide visual arts exhibit, will scatter cherry blossom statues painted by local artists throughout all eight neighborhoods as well as the National Harbor and Aurora Highlands and National Landing neighborhoods in Northern Virginia until May 31.
Where can I see the flowers but avoid the tourists?
If you want to enjoy the cherry blossoms without worrying about crowds, consider the following sites: East Potomac Park, Hains Point, the National Arboretum, Dumbarton Oaks Gardens, Anacostia Park, and Maryland’s Kenwood neighborhood.
If you brave the Tidal Basin, avoid weekend visits.
caroline muraskin, owner of DC Design Tours, also hosts cherry blossom history tours available at the Tidal Basin and Cleveland Park. Muraskin recommends them for tourists and residents alike, but the latter option is best for avoiding massive crowds. $20 to $35.
Will I need a permit to take photos of the cherry blossoms?
Probably not. You can definitely take a few selfies near flowers without taking one.
The National Park Service requires film and photography permits for filming that would impact park resources or the visitor experience. “Low impact” filming activities – meaning “outdoor filming activities in areas open to the public, except areas managed as wilderness, involving five or fewer people, and equipment that will be carried at all times, with the exception of small tripods used to hold cameras”—do not require a special use permit for any purpose.
Professionals planning a photo shoot must submit a request in person or by mail. Filming and photography are not permitted in restricted areas: Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial (without copyright approval), Korean War Veterans Memorial, above steps of Lincoln Memorial, Section Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial’s Stone of Hope, in the exterior columns of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Apex, in the circle of flags at the Washington Monument, and in front of the gold stars of the World War II Memorial.
If you’re tempted to use a drone, don’t. The Federal Aviation Administration has designated DC as a drone-free zone.
Finally, always remember that you can look at cherry blossoms, but don’t touch them. It’s not only rude to climb, pick or break tree branches, it’s also illegal.
What cherry blossom-inspired dishes and cocktails are offered locally?
Enjoy a lively drink from George Town Cafe with their cherry blossom latte. The light pink drink offers a tart cherry flavor with steamed milk and two shots of espresso, topped with pink flowers. Coffee Compass also sells Cherry Blossom Blend in Cherry and Vanilla flavors, and their Perfectly Pink Cherry Blossom Cream Cold Brew – made with homemade Cherry Blossom Syrup, cream, or any other milk option , and their homemade nitro cold brew – is also available.
If you prefer tea, Hotel Willard Inter-Continental a Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea with spring teas, sandwiches and pastries inspired by the season. Likewise, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel offers the Sakura Pink Empress Afternoon Tea with a choice of rosé or one of two watered down teas, the Camomile Teani or the Pink Coconut Chai.
For sweetness, think ice cream jubilee‘s seasonal Jubilee Cherries flavor. The ice cream is topped with dark cherries, a hint of brandy and dark chocolate stracciatella chips.
Alexandria is the Majestic, Mia’s Italian cuisineand Hi-Tide Lounge all serve cherry blossom sangria with brut rosé, white vermouth, cherry juice and orange blossom water, available on site and to take away.
Lost Boy Cider in Alexandria is also celebrating the spring season with its Cherry Blossom “March Explorer Series” hard cider. It’s sugar-free and gluten-free, with flavors of cherry and jasmine.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival takes place from March 20 to April 17. nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.