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The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival, America’s greatest springtime celebration, is set for March 20 to April 12 just across the Potomac River from Arlington in Washington, D.C.
The three week cultural festival, held at multiple venues across the District and surrounding areas, attracts more than 1.5 million visitors. These guests travel from around the world to participate in events honoring American and Japanese cultures, recalling Tokyo’s gift of the trees to the city of Washington, D.C. in 1912.
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March 20: The Pink Tie Party kicks off the celebration as an official start of the blossom season. Held at the Ronald Reagan Building, this fundraiser offers delicious bites and cocktails from local restaurants, entertainment and more, all with pink as the theme of the evening.
March 21: The Opening Ceremony at the Warner Theatre welcomes springtime to the D.C. region with a variety of performances from world-renowned artists.
March 21: The Smithsonian American Art Museum Cherry Blossom Celebration includes a taiko drumming performance, Japanese music and dance performances, face painting, and cherry-blossom themed crafts.
March 28: The Blossom Kite Festival means you can fly your own kite (or children can make their own at an activity station) on the Washington Monument grounds. Enjoy competitions and kite demonstrations.
April 4: The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade®, a centerpiece of the festival, features giant colorful helium balloons, elaborate floats, marching bands from across the country and celebrity entertainers.
April 4: Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival, produced by the Japan-America Society of Washington D.C., stretches six blocks in downtown D.C. with performers and vendors sharing love of Japanese culture and traditions.
April 5: The Anacostia River Festival lets visitors view the cherry blossoms from a different angle as they can take advantage of canoe rides, a bike parade and more. The free event also provides a glimpse of Southeast DC’s local arts scene.
April 11: Petalpalooza at The Yards Park offers live music, a beer garden and fireworks. Festivities start at noon, and the fireworks show is set for 8:30 p.m.
Haven’t booked your hotel yet? Here in Arlington, travelers can stay just minutes from festival activities while enjoying hotel rates that average 20 percent less than those in downtown Washington, D.C.
It definitely can get crowded around the Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin in D.C., the most well-known area for viewing the capital’s cherry blossoms. By staying just across the river in Arlington and taking advantage of the Metro system, it's easy to venture back and forth from festival events without having to navigate the crowds.
Take a stroll along the Arlington banks of the Potomac River along the Mount Vernon Trail to see all of the gorgeous blooming trees all at once without navigating amongst the Tidal Basin crowd. Better yet – explore Arlington outdoors by connecting to the “Arlington Loop,” a trail route created by Bike Arlington that provides a map connecting four regional trails. If you need a bicycle, stop by any of the 92 Capital BikeShare stations found throughout Arlington and purchase a day pass.
Another place to view the blossoms from a distance are from atop the hills of Arlington National Cemetery, which offers sweeping views of the entire area.
Peak bloom happens on average on April 4.
Peak bloom can last up to two weeks depending on weather.
The National Park Service’s Bloom Watch tracks how the buds are doing on the way to bloom, and they are blooming earlier and earlier each year due to climate change, according to the National Park Service and research by the Smithsonian Institution.
Author: Cara O'Donnell