Maybe I haven’t lived here long enough to no longer enjoy it, but I still head to the Tidal Basin EVERY spring to see the cherry blossoms.
This year the National Cherry Blossom Festival is March 20 – April 14 here in the District.
I’m no longer surprised when I talk to friends and neighbors who haven’t been… or who haven’t been in YEARS.
Seriously people– get with the program. You are missing out on one of DC’s greatest traditions. There are ways to see them near the Thomas Jefferson Memorial without the crowds. As a local, you seriously have the upper hand in this peak bloom game year after year.
I know what you’re thinking. I’ve been. I’ve seen people wait in lines to take pictures by what they deem to be the perfect tree overlooking the Tidal Basin. I’ve seen photo crews block off pathways to shoot for 20-30 minutes. I’ve seen more than my share of grumpy kids who’ve made it halfway around and don’t yet understand that they have at least 30-40 minutes until they’re back to their car seat. I’ve seen picnickers. I’ve seen bicyclists and runners– who don’t understand the path they’ve ridden or run a hundred times is no longer theirs alone for a couple weeks.
I’ll freely admit the place can be a zoo. A mess. A claustrophobic nightmare.
If you time it right, however, it can be magical. Like a dream or fairytale.
The National Park Service has also predicted March 26-30 will be the peak (when 70% of the blossoms have opened). My advice: Mark those days on your calendar, and watch the news as it gets closer to get an up to the minute blossom forecast.
We like to head over in the early evening when people are eating dinner and the tourists are tired of walking. I also have friends who regularly hit up the basin as the sun is rising, just to beat the crowds.
If you miss the peak time altogether, don’t worry- the trees are still in transition for a bit afterward. I like to call it walking through the cherry dust.
Cherry Blossom Festival Information
- When: March 20- April 14, 2013
- Where: Jefferson Memorial, Tidal Basin, National Mall
- More Information: National Cherry Blossom Festival
My Favorite Cherry Blossom Festival Events
Blossom Kite Festival
- Saturday, March 30; 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Washington Monument grounds
- Bring your kite, make a kite there. Participate for fun in the Public Field or watch some serious competition.
- More Information
Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
- Saturday, April 6; 1 p.m. – 9 p.m.
- Southwest Waterfront (600-900 Water Street, SW)
- Come listen to music, participate in family friendly water-related activities and enjoy food from local vendors. The event is capped off with fireworks over the Washington Channel.
- More Information
National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
- Saturday, April 13; 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
- Constitution Avenue (7- 17th Streets), NW
- Free along parade route ($20 for grandstand seating)
- Marching bands from across the US participate, along with balloons, floats and costumed performers.
- More Information and Tickets
* A complete listing of events during the Cherry Blossom Festival is available here. There is something literally every day. And for every type of person.
More Springtime Fun
- Head over to Theodore Roosevelt Island to watch Spring spring to life.
- Run the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler. I’m guessing there are a few runners out there trying to get rid of their registration.
- Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with some of my favorite finds for kids.
- Head over to the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum on a rainy day.