Breathtaking landscape view of the Jefferson Memorial during the DC Cherry Blossom Festival

Pretty in Pink: A Guide to Washington, D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Festival

Breathtaking landscape view of the Jefferson Memorial during the DC Cherry Blossom Festival

Pretty in Pink: A Guide to Washington, D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Festival

Don't miss the annual Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival. Enjoy breathtaking scenery and check out all of the events happening around this time of year.

For just a few short weeks, from March 20 through April 15, 2018, Washington, D.C. will be blanketed in pink, as the blossoms bloom on the thousands of cherry trees gifted to the U.S. by Japan in 1912, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival goes into full swing. Horticulture lovers aren’t the only ones drawn to the festival roster of fantastic events, though.

Calendar highlights include the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, the Blossom Kite Festival, and the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival, as well as crafts, food, and free daily performances. Travelers can discover the best ways to get to the blossoms, the top festival celebrations to enjoy, and the tours to take.

The Best Places to See D.C.’s Cherry Blossoms

The Tidal Basin Welcome Area offers some of the best views of the cherry blossoms, along with the stage where cultural performances — music, martial arts, dance, and more — take place daily during the festival. Visitors should consider renting a paddleboat or a swan boat at the basin to enjoy the views of the blossoms from the water.

People gathered around a cherry blossom tree at the waterfront in Washington DC during daytime
Source: 24.CherryBlossoms.TidalBasin.SW.WDC.23March2012 by Elvert Barnes used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Located next to the Tidal Basin and among some of the first cherry trees planted in 1912, the Japanese Lantern is a stone statue that is lit during the festival, making for an especially fitting and atmospheric vantage point. Also near the Tidal Basin, the crescent-shaped Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is beautifully ringed with cherry trees. Many also choose to sit on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial to view the blossoms.

Visitors can also take in the blossoms via guided bike tours, as well as from cruise, water taxi, and boat tours along the Potomac River that take passengers past the trees. Sunrise and afternoon photography tours offer travelers the chance to learn to take pictures that make the most of the times when the blossoms are magnificently lit.

National Park Rangers offer free tours of the cherry blossoms, including 1.8-mile guided evening lantern walks around the Tidal Basin and 3.5-mile jogs through the National Mall. Rangers also lead free bike tours and bird walks among the blossoms.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade

The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, one of D.C.’s most popular, makes its way down the 10-block route along Constitution Avenue, from 7th to 17th Street N.W., with whimsical pink-themed floats, enormous balloons, marching bands, and performers. The parade, held on April 14, 2018, from 10 a.m. to noon, is free and open to the public, who arrive early for prime viewing spots along the route. (There is a charge for grandstand seating.)

Two people on a float in the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in 2012
Source: NCBF.Parade68.ConstituitonAvenue.NW.WDC.14April2012 by Elvert Barnes used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Blossom Kite Festival

On March 31, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Blossom Kite Festival will draw hundreds of kite makers and fliers from all over the country and the world to the grounds of the Washington Monument. During this free festival, participants fly colorful kites in a fantastic range of shapes and sizes and compete in contests that display their skill and creativity. Spectators can watch demonstrations or buy a kite onsite, and children can even create and fly their own kites while supplies last for this fun activity.

People flying kites in a sunny field during the 2010 Cherry Blossom Kite Festival
Source: Cherry Blossom Kite Festival 2010 – 040 by S Pakhrin used under CC BY 2.0

The Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival

The Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival is a nine-hour celebration on the last day of the D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival that includes live entertainment, games, cultural experiences, food, and, of course, fireworks. The festival takes place April 7, 2018 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at The District Wharf on the redeveloped Southwest Waterfront.

A man playing the cello as part of a band performance in April of 2012
Source: 14.LaveniaNesmith.7thStreetLanding.SWFF.7April2012 by Elvert Barnes used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Have you experienced the power of pink during D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Festival? Share your favorite places to see the blossoms with us on Facebook.

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