Guide to the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC
Nothing signifies the arrival of spring in the nation’s capital quite like the blooming of the cherry blossom trees and the National Cherry Blossom Festival to celebrate the occasion. Visitors descend upon Washington, DC each year to admire the 3,000-plus trees. The festival, which runs from March 20 – April 17, 2022, is full of events that honor American and Japanese cultures and represents a close bond forged between the two countries that began with Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki’s gift of the trees back in 1912.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20 – April 17) is a citywide event that celebrates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees to Washington, DC by the mayor of Tokyo. This year’s festival features a range of spectacular virtual and in-person celebrations, from porch decorations across the city and an art scavenger hunt to virtual editions of the Opening Ceremony and Pink Tie Party. Local restaurants even get into the spirit with the Cherry Picks program, while DC-area hotels offer blossom-themed packages, deals and discounts. Check the National Park Service’s website for the latest information regarding health and safety protocols and peak bloom.
Fun Facts about Washington, DC’s cherry blossoms
- The first donation of 2,000 trees, received in 1910, was burned on orders from President William Howard Taft. Insects and disease had infested the gift, but after hearing about the plight of the first batch, the Japanese mayor sent another 3,020 trees to DC two years later.
- First Lady Helen Herron Taft planted the first tree in West Potomac Park. Many First Ladies, including Mamie Eisenhower, Lady Bird Johnson, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush, have officially commemorated the blossoms. On March 27, 2012, Michelle Obama took up the cause by planting a cherry tree to mark the centennial of the blossoms.
- One of the earliest recorded peak blooms occurred on March 15, 1990, while the latest recorded peak bloom occurred on April 18, 1958.
- The majority of the cherry blossom trees around the Tidal Basin are of the Yoshino variety. But another species, the Kwanzan, usually blooms two weeks after the Yoshino trees, giving visitors a second chance to catch the blossoms.
A Capital Spring
Washington, DC hosts the nation’s greatest springtime celebration, the National Cherry Blossom Festival, in honor of the blooming of the city’s beautiful cherry blossom trees. But spring in the nation’s capital holds so much more: cutting-edge theater performances, outdoor revelry in Rock Creek Park and on the waterfronts, and a mouthwatering dining scene. It’s no wonder spring is the perfect time to make monumental memories in the District.