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Cherry Blossom Festival Washington DC

May 20, 2016 | American Culture

The National Cherry Blossom Festival, a three-week, citywide festival celebrates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees to Washington, DC by the mayor of Tokyo. The festival features a range of spectacular events, from its eponymous kite extravaganza on the National Mall to fun cultural experiences like sake tastings. Local restaurants even get into the spirit with the Cherry Picks program, featuring cherry blossom-themed food and drink items. And it all leads up to the capper: the storied National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade.

The average peak bloom date, when 70% of the flowers of the cherry blossom trees are open, is April 4. In the past, peak bloom has occurred as early as March 15 and as late as April 18, according to the National Park Service.  As a reminder, please, do your part in helping to protect the National Mall by never picking the cherry blossoms (it’s against the law). Not just dazzling the Tidal Basin, the cherry blossoms are celebrated throughout the entire city.

Cherry Blossom Festival Washington DC

When is Cherry Blossom Season in DC

The cherry blossoms are without a doubt the stars of springtime in Washington, DC. Visit the District during this time and you’ll find the nation’s capital is accented in pink for the three-week National Cherry Blossom Festival. When is cherry blossom season in DC

This popular question has a different answer year to year. The average peak bloom date, when 70% of the flowers of the cherry blossom trees are open, is April 4. In the past, peak bloom has occurred as early as March 15 and as late as April 18, according to the National Park Service. The entire blooming period can last up to 14 days, which includes the days leading up to peak bloom.

Cherry Blossom Festival

The first “Cherry Blossom Festival” was held in 1935 under joint sponsorship by numerous civic groups, becoming an annual event. The cherry trees had by this point become an established part of the nation’s capital. In 1938, plans to cut down trees to clear ground for the Jefferson Memorial prompted a group of women to chain themselves together at the site in protest. A compromise was reached where more trees would be planted along the south side of the Basin to frame the Memorial. A Cherry Blossom Pageant was begun in 1940.

On December 11, 1941, four trees were cut down. It is suspected that this was retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan four days earlier, though this was never confirmed. In hopes of dissuading people from further attacks upon the trees during the war, they were referred to as “Oriental” flowering cherry trees for the war’s duration. Suspended during World War II, the festival resumed in 1947 with the support of the Washington, D.C., Board of Trade and the D.C. Commissioners.

In 2009, the National Cherry Blossom Festival introduced an alternative event to its lineup, with the debut of Cherry Blast, an underground-ish mix of projected art, dance performances, live music, fashion and DJs that took place in an empty (but festively decorated) Anacostia warehouse. (Most of the crowd was shuttle-bussed in from Dupont Circle.) In 2010, Cherry Blast II—the creation of artist Philippa P. Hughes of the Pink Line Project—moved to a storage warehouse in Adams Morgan, but still featured an eclectic group of local artists and musicians. The 2016 Cherry Blast will take place at the Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square during the last Saturday evening of the festival

 

 

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