For the next few weeks, think about Washington, DC, not for its politics but for its spectacular display of cherry blossoms coupled with the city’s engaging three-week celebration. This year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 20 to April 17. The National Park Service expects peak blooms from March 18 to March 23. Even before and after the flowering peak blooms, the cherry blossoms remain a gift to the eye.
Visit the Tidal Basin
The Tidal Basin surrounding the Jefferson Memorial showcases many of the thousands of trees given as a gift to Washington, DC by the mayor of Tokyo in 1912. Cherry trees also bloom along the shores of East Potomac Park and along the Mall. The National Park Service site offers maps to get you to the blooms as well as a cherry cam focused on the famed blossoms.
For the fewest crowds, arrive early—and by that we mean by 6 a.m. You won’t be alone but you will have some space to stroll without rubbing elbows with fellow gawkers. The swath of pink blooms encircling the Tidal Basin is so pretty and so uniquely DC that many couples hire professional photographers to shoot the lovebirds’ engagement and wedding photos.
Take part in 50 years of kite flying on the Mall, April 2, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Washington Monument grounds, 17th Street NW and Constitution Avenue. The rain date is April 3. You can watch kite flyers battle it out in Rokkaku and Hot Tricks showdowns. In Rokkaku, masters fly hexagonal-shaped fighter kites while attempting to ground the other competitors. At the Hot Tricks competition, experts fly multiple kites in difficult flight patterns. In the afternoon, families can fly their own kites.
Get Hands-On at the National Building Museum
Celebrate the blossoms during the National Building Museum’s free blossom festival family day, March 26. In the facility’s Great Hall, one of DC’s loveliest mega-spaces, you and your children can learn how to fold and create origami pieces, design a memorial for the Mall and enjoy other hands-on crafts.
See the Fireworks
The National Cherry Blossom Festival Fireworks Show lights up the sky at the Southwest Waterfront, April 9. Although events take place starting at 1 p.m. the fireworks shoot off at 8:30 p.m.
Watch the Parade
Floats and marching bands roll along Constitution Avenue at the annual parade, April 16 from 10 a.m. to noon. This year’s headliners include pop artist Tiffany and the cast of the Broadway musical Jersey Boys.
Enjoy the Japanese Street Festival
Food, music and crafts reign at the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival, April 16, which takes place in the Capitol Riverfront Neighborhood, M Street and New Jersey Avenue SE. $10 fee for ages 13 and older.
Are you planning to visit DC this spring to see the cherry blossoms? What events are on your must-see list? Comment below or connect with me on Twitter, @familyitrips.