This post covers everything you need to know about the Cherry Blossom Festival for 2023.
You'll also find a self-guided Cherry Blossom tour, including how to get there, the best places to view the blossoms and events.
Check out our Cherry Blossom Tours for the best way to see the blooms - private tours, self guided audio tours and virtual tour options!
- Dates of the Cherry Blossom Festival & Peak Bloom
- Best Place to See the Cherry Blossoms
- How to get to the Cherry Blossom Festival
- 2023 Cherry Blossom Festival Events
- Other Things to do in DC in March and April
BOOK A CHERRY BLOSSOM WALKING TOUR
When is the 2023 Cherry Blossom Festival?
The festival will be taking place March 20 to April 16, 2023. Find out more below.
When is peak Cherry Blossom bloom predicted?
These beautiful flowers come at their own pace.
March 22-25, 2023
This is the predicted date! It could change based on weather.
How long do Cherry Blossoms last?
The length of blooms depends highly on the weather where a slight frost or heavy thunderstorm can cause the trees to lose their blooms overnight.
There are a lot of cherry blossom trees that bloom before and after peak bloom all over the city.
Want up to the date information? Have a peek at the NPS BloomCam.
(don't be surprised if you see bright pink flowers in the depth of Winter - they don't turn the camera to Live until Spring so if you check too soon, you'll just see the archived footage!)
What is the history behind the Cherry Blossom Festival?
In 1912, 3,000 Yoshino cherry blossom trees were given to the city of Washington, DC by Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo as a token of lasting fellowship and peace.
Most of the original trees were planted around the Tidal Basin, a small man-made reservoir adjacent to the National Mall.
The number of trees has since grown to 3,750, and they are now of 16 varieties.
Today, we celebrate that gift and the enduring friendship between the United States and Japan by celebrating the Cherry Blossom Festival.
There are a few gnarly trees along Hains Point that are thought to be part of a 1910 shipment that was the original gift.
Unfortunately, this shipment arrived full of disease and bugs and had to be burned.
A few were saved for study, and these 12 might be the oldest Cherry Blossom trees.
The first two trees planted from the 1912 shipment are still standing.
Planted by First Lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Iwa Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador on March 27, 1912, you can see them along the water where 17th St SW ends.
There is a small plaque to mark the spot.
How to get to the Cherry Blossom Festival?
According to National Park Service, over 1.5 million people are expected to come to DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival, which means you should expect lots of crowds and traffic around the National Mall.
Parking near the Tidal Basin is extremely limited, so we suggest you travel by Metro.
The closest stations are Smithsonian (orange, silver, and blue lines) and Federal Triangle (orange, silver, and blue).
Here are some tips on traveling to the National Mall and Tidal Basin during the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Take the Metro
As parking is limited and traffic is certain to be heavy, using public transport is the best way to get to and from the National Mall.
The nearest stations are Smithsonian (orange/blue) and Federal Triangle (orange/blue).
If you dread the thought of squeezing in on a crowded train, consider getting off at one of the stations that are slightly farther, but still a walkable distance, from the National Mall: Archives (yellow/green); Metro Center (red/orange/blue); Foggy Bottom (orange/blue).
The Trip Planner feature on the WMATA website is a great way to estimate time and distance when traveling on the Metro.
Ride a bike
Capital Bikeshare offers 1 and three-day passes for guests to the city.
There are many stations on and along the National Mall and Tidal Basin, making this a convenient way to travel during the busy season.
However, keep in mind that though you are allowed total access to the bikes with one of these passes, using a bike for more than 30 minutes at a time will incur additional trip fees. Check out their website for additional information.
Parking near the National Mall
Not for the faint of heart! As we’ve mentioned, parking is extremely limited, especially during the Cherry Blossom Festival.
There is some parking at Hains Point, though spaces fill quickly (Note: There is sometimes a $1 shuttle that will run from Hains Point to the Tidal Basin during the festival.)
Reserve parking in advance in a garage near the tour’s starting point through SpotHero. This service enables drivers to compare prices and locations of area garages and book a guaranteed spot ahead of time.
Street parking in the area is extremely limited. It can be pretty nice knowing that a parking spot is waiting for you during such a hectic event.
Take a Taxi/Ube/Lyft
There will be an abundance of taxis available near the National Mall.
If all of the above options sound too complicated or tiresome, treat yourself to a cab or hail an Uber/Lyft.
Best Place to See the Cherry Blossoms
So you want to know the best place to see the Cherry Blossoms?
These hybrid trees are grown specifically for their beauty and during peak bloom, they do not disappoint.
Though the most photographed spots are along the Tidal Basin, they are not the only ones.
Use our guide to find some of the best places and best times to view the Cherry Blossoms.
Best Place to See the Cherry Blossoms On the National Mall/Tidal Basin
Be warned; you'll be there with lots of other people. Sometimes, though, this makes it all the more photogenic.
From engagement shoots and wedding poses to families and pets, you get to be part of some of the most memorable photos of one another.
You'll find the most people along the Tidal Basin. The Tidal Basin has a sidewalk that borders the water that nearly wraps around the edge of the entire thing featuring the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, George Mason Memorial, and Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
The trees here line the sidewalk along the water, and you can walk amongst them making them popular for a good reason.
Want to know what you're seeing? Take our Cherry Blossoms on the Tidal Basin Walking Tour!
WE HAVE A CHERRY BLOSSOM TOUR THAT IS OFF THE BASIN! Join us for a walking tour that still sees the trees and special Cherry Blossom art at the Wharf - without the crowds.
If you want to avoid the crowds without going off the beaten path, we have two suggestions:
- Go a little further. If you venture off the sidewalk along the water and past the George Mason Memorial along Ohio Drive and the Potomac you'll come across a few other groves of blossoms that have just as much beauty and fewer people. If you want to do the whole thing, it is a 4.1-mile loop, but you'll see much more variety than the Tidal Basin. Use the NPS Hains Point Loop Guide to know what you're looking at!
- Go in the water! You can rent a paddle boat to take out on the basin to get a different perspective - and a bit of fun! Just be careful with your camera.
Walking along the Tidal Basin leads to some beautiful photographic shots to document your visit to the blossoms.
If you want to find Cherry Blossoms wherever you are, Casey Trees has an interactive map for that!
BEST INSTAGRAM SHOTS OF THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS:
Best Shot 1:
One of the most popular images is of low-hanging branches full of blooms with the Jefferson Memorial in the distance.
The sidewalk alongside the MLK Memorial has some of the best shots of Jefferson in the distance.
Best Shot 2:
A key reason to place the trees along the Tidal Basin was the reflection in the water.
Though the water is filled with creatures, the occasional log, and tourists (on paddle boats) and there is a small current, the water often has great reflections.
Especially if comes in the morning before the paddle boats hit the water.
The sidewalk between the MLK and FDR Memorials has a nice curve that allows you to catch a nice view of the reflections.
Best Shot 3:
There are two ways to catch a glimpse of the Washington Monument framed by blossoms: wide angle and close up.
Being the tallest structure in the city, you can see the Monument from just about everywhere.
If you want a grand view of the blossoms lined up along the water with the Monument jutting out of the top - you can do that from anywhere along the Tidal Basin sidewalk!
A popular spot is a bridge between the FDR and Jefferson Memorial.
...but the Tidal Basin isn't the only place to see Cherry Blossoms.
In honor of the centennial celebration, Japan gifted the city an additional 100 cherry blossoms that have been planted around the Washington Monument.
They are not right at the base but close enough and in a few groves that you can get some beautiful shots of the blossoms looking up at the Monument in the background.
Not a Real Shot: There are no Cherry Blossom trees by the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. It'd be a lovely photo, and it is a frequent question.
Best Place to See the Cherry Blossoms Off the Beaten Path
The famed Cherry Blossom trees are the ones of the Tidal Basin. But they are not the only ones and in some views, aren't the prettiest.
- Hains Point
- US Capitol
- Arlington Cemetery
- National Arboretum
Read our whole post about alternatives to the Tidal Basin to view Cherry Blossom...
When to View the Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms are fickle creatures - in some recent Decembers, trees bloomed because it had been so warm.
They are greatly affected by weather for both when they bloom and for how long, as there is no way to tell for sure.
Even the National Park Service expert on the trees won't predict peak blooms until March 01.
The trees usually reach peak bloom the first week in April, but in the last five years, they have come early and late.
Since most people need a little more notice to plan their trip than can be guaranteed, the best we can offer is when to view the blossoms once you're already here.
- Too Early to see the Cherry Blossoms? - Try the Indicator Tree
There is one tree by the Jefferson Memorial that always blooms a week before the rest - this is how we "know" that it is about time.
Got to DC too early - go check out this tree. At least you can see one blossom before you go!
You'll find the tree along the path on the Thomas Jefferson Memorial side of the bridge over the Tidal Basin -- Washington Channel. This is the bridge closer to the city.
The tree is growing next to a holly tree and has a sign to indicate which tree is the indicator tree.
- Missed the Chance to see the Cherry Blossoms? Try the Kwanzan Blossoms on Hains Points
They historically bloom two weeks after the main blossoms on the Tidal Basin but are just as pretty. If you venture off the Tidal Basin sidewalk along the water and past the George Mason Memorial along Ohio Drive and the Potomac you'll come across a few. Try to get there in the afternoon for the best light.
- Here for Peak Bloom but Too Many People? - Go to Sunrise
A quieter and potentially more beautiful time to view the blossoms. You'll see plenty of photographers but you'll get there before most of the crowds.
If you're on the basin, the Jefferson Memorial is on the eastern side if you want to place yourself for sunrise.
Which Cherry Blossom Festival events should not be missed?
There are over 200 events and performances, but here are some of our favorites.
- National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony
Date: March 25, 2023
Time: 5 pm
Watch performers from DC and Japan celebrate the beginning of the festival.
While it is free, you do need to reserve. Tickets to the Opening Ceremony will be available to claim in February 2023.
You can also watch online on the Festival’s YouTube Channel.
- Cherry Blossom Festival Kite Festival
Date: March 25, 2023, 10 am - 4:30 pm
Where: Washington Monument Grounds
The long-standing tradition has returned to the National Mall, but they will also be promoting an at-home version.
While the view may not be the same as flying a kite next to the Washington Monument, you can still join in this tradition from home.
- Art in Bloom
Date: Starting March 20
Search for 20 cherry blossom sculptures around Washington DC. Local and national artists will have artwork around the city.
Find them for a chance to win prizes by tagging @CherryBlossFest on Instagram and Twitter.
Don't want to leave your house to find them - we are heading out on Saturday, March 20, and Sunday, March 21 to find them all - find us on Instagram @topthingstododc and Facebook to follow along.
- Petal Porch & Parade
Date: March 20, 2023, through April!
DC Residents will decorate their porches in the theme of Cherry Blossoms, pink, and springtime. Drive around to visit them all.
Don't want to leave your house to find them - we'll have a virtual tour video of some of our favorites on our YouTube Channel - www.youtube.com/
- National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Date: Saturday, April 15, 2023 | 10 am
The Cherry Blossom Festival parade floats down Constitution Ave NW along the National Mall for 10 blocks.
Balloons, floats, marching bands, and celebrities can all be watched from the side of the road for free or you can pay to reserve seats on the Grandstand.
Date: Saturday, April 8, 2023, 1 pm - 9 pm
An all-day event with art, activities, and live music at Yards Park. An all-ages event that should not be missed!
Where to stay for the Cherry Blossom Festival?
There are a number of designated Cherry Blossom Festival Hotels featured on the festival’s official website. Don’t find what you’re looking for? Check out our post on where to stay in Washington DC.