Once each year for a fleeting fortnight, Washington DC's Tidal Basin and the surrounding area comes alive in pink and red as cherry blossoms create one of the capital's most impressive spectacles. For over 100 years, since the 1912 gift of 3000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo, the area of the Tidal Basin, located just south of the National Mall, has been the site of this magnificent natural display. In addition to flowering trees, Washington DC celebrates the bloom with a festival full of events, activities, and a parade.
Mother Nature is always difficult to predict, and never more-so than a bloom after a long stretch of winter. Typically a good estimate can only be made within 10 days of peak bloom (defined when 70% of blossoms have opened). The trees will begin to bloom before the peak bloom date, and can last up to 14 days, but extreme temperatures or a heavy rain can quickly wipe out a great bloom.
The average peak bloom is April 4th, but the National Park Service has predicted that the 2016 bloom will between March 23rd and 24th.
While the blossoms themselves have a relatively short stay, fun and festivities will last for over 3 weeks! In 2016 the festival will be held from March 20 to April 17th. With the National Cherry Blossom Parade on April 16th, and events, attractions, and festivities throughout the period, there's a lot of fun to be had in DC throughout the entire Cherry Blossom Festival.
Any day of the year, Washington DC's Tidal Basin, a man-made reservoir between the Potomac River and Washington Channel, is a beautiful place. It comes to life each spring during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, and it's magnificent bloom. The Tidal Basin is rimmed with thousands of Cherry Trees which bloom together each spring, creating a wall of pink and white flowers which reflect off the still water of the basin.
The Tidal Basin is home to some of DC's great monuments and memorials, including the Jefferson Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, which line edge of the pool, and stand out amongst the blooming blossoms. While visiting the basin, consider renting a paddle boat for a unique perspective, or walk to the nearby National Mall for more activities and DC Attractions.
Spring is a big deal in Washington DC, and there's a whole festival built around the annual cherry tree bloom that lasts over three weeks! The festival features fireworks, cultural events, a kite festival on the National Mall, and more. We've listed the signature events for the 2016 festival below, but there's a lot more to do. For a complete listing, see nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.
The following signature events are scheduled for 2016:
|Pink Tie Party||Friday, March 18||Ronald Reagan Building||Federal Triangle Station|
|Opening Ceremony||Saturday, March 26||Warner Theatre||Metro Center Station|
|Family Day||Saturday, March 26||National Building Museum||Judiciary Square Station, Gallery Place Station|
|Blossom Kite Festival||Saturday, April 2||Washington Monument||Smithsonian Station, Federal Triangle Station, Metro Center Station|
|Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival||Saturday, April 9||Southwest Waterfront||Waterfront Station, L'Enfant Station|
|National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade||Saturday, April 16||Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th streets, NW||Archives Station, Federal Triangle Station, Smithsonian Station|
|Sakura Matsuri (Japanese Street Festival)||Saturday, April 16||M Street and New Jersey Avenue SE||Navy Yard Station|
|Cherry Blast (Japanese sites, sounds, and tastes)||Saturday, April 16||Carnegie Library||Mt Vernon Square Station, Gallery Place Station|
The annual bloom is primarily located around the Tidal Basin, with some additional trees on and around the National Mall. Parking in this area is very limited, and the entire Cherry Blossom Festival tends to be very busy in Washington DC. We recommend that you take Metro to a nearby station.
The closest stations include Smithsonian Station (Orange Line and Blue Line), Foggy Bottom Station (Orange Line and Blue Line), and L'Enfant Station (Green Line, Yellow Line, Orange Line, and Blue Line). For specific directions, see our directions to specific attractions along the Tidal Basin:
We've selected some additional useful and interesting links to help you study and enjoy the DC Cherry Blossoms: