National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020

 

Washington DC is perhaps the most dramatic place in the world to view Cherry Blossoms in their peak bloom.  Many other cities around the world also have their own cherry blossom festivals, but the Cherry Blossom Festival 2020 in Washington DC is set to be the most beautiful anywhere because it is set against the backdrop of the National Mall.

FAQs

When will the Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC come into full bloom in 2020?

The actual date of full bloom varies every year between March 15  and April 15.  Once open, the blossoms can stay on the cherry trees for as long as 14 days, but wind and rain can substantially shorten the time frame.  Typically, peak bloom lasts less than a week, but a few days before peak bloom and a few days after peak bloom are almost as beautiful.  There is a National Park Service Peak Bloom Prediction, but all predictions are frequently just a guessing game until approximately 1 week before the full bloom.

What are the dates of the National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020?

The National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020 goes from March 20 – April 12, 2020.  That does NOT mean that the cherry trees will be in bloom during that full time period, although it is highly likely that the trees will be in bloom during SOME of that period.  The National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020 is more than just the actual blooming of the trees.  It also includes a series of events in Washington DC like a street fair around the Tidal Basin, a kite festival on the grounds of the Washington Monument, a parade down Constitution Avenue that goes right in front of the White House, and many other activities.

 

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Where can I see the cherry blossoms in Washington DC?

The main area to view the cherry blossoms is around the Tidal Basin.  This area includes several national memorials like the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial and the MLK Memorial. There is a walking path right at the edge of the Tidal Basin where you can walk under the boughs of the trees covered in blossoms.  In my opinion, the best location is to walk between the FDR Memorial and the MLK Memorial at the water’s edge, where you will have the backdrop of the cherry blossoms, Tidal Basin and the Washington Monument.

Cherry Blossom Tour

There are many other stands of cherry trees that are worth visiting around the National Mall and downtown Washington DC.  The grounds of the Washington Monument have several spectacular cherry tree groves.  The south lawn of the White House has some nice groves.  The west side of the US Capitol has some groves as well.  Near to the Tidal Basin itself, the banks of the Potomac River are lined with cherry trees, both on Ohio Drive and also around Hains Point.

What time of day should I go to see the Cherry Blossoms?

Peak bloom typically lasts about a week.  There is always one perfect weekend, and there is often a weekend that is just before or just after full bloom which is almost as good.  The weekends are extremely crowded, so try to go in the morning.  The Tidal Basin gets more and more crowded as afternoon wears on. From Monday to Thursday, morning and early afternoon is reasonably uncrowded, even at full bloom.  But, starting about 3:00 PM until after sunset, the Tidal Basin will get very crowded with locals who come down to see the cherry blossoms after work.  

Some people like to get up early and see the trees at sunrise.  April 1 sunrise is 6:52 AM this year. The best spot for sunrise would be along the Tidal Basin between the Jefferson Memorial and the FDR Memorial.

How can I get to the Tidal Basin?

At peak bloom, it would be foolish to attempt to drive around the Tidal Basin.  You are guaranteed of getting stuck in traffic — possibly for hours.  If you are driving, your best bet is to park downtown at the Ronald Reagan Building and walk, bike, or take a pedicab to the Tidal Basin.  

The nearest Metro station is the Smithsonian Metro a few blocks away from the Tidal Basin and near many of the Smithsonian Museums.  Smithsonian Metro is on the Orange/Blue/Silver metro lines.

Is the National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020 handicap accessible?

Yes and no.  There is a paved, but slightly rough path all along the Tidal Basin.  During afternoons and weekends of peak bloom, this path can be extremely crowded.  The path is accessible by wheelchair, but it is narrow and crowded.  The MLK Memorial and the FDR Memorial are fully handicap accessible with no stairs to climb.  At the Jefferson Memorial, there is an elevator that carries you up into the inner chamber with the big Jefferson statue, but the elevator has been known to be out of order on occasion. If you have limited mobility, far and away the best method for you to visit the Tidal Basin is to take a Cherry Blossom Tour on a pedicab with Nonpartisan Pedicab.

Washington DC Tour for Seniors

Can I take my dog to the National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020?

Yes.  Dogs on a leash are welcome on the National Mall.  Be aware that at peak bloom, it is very crowded around the Tidal Basin.  Dogs are theoretically not allowed in the memorials, but so long as your dog is well-behaved you are unlikely to face problems.  In fact, at the FDR Memorial, there is a statue of FDR with his dog, Fala.  My experience is that many dogs are fascinated with this statue.  There is certainly a lot of walking involved, and you may prefer to take a dog friendly tour of the cherry blossoms with Nonpartisan Pedicab.

Does it cost money to visit the National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020?

With few exceptions, everything is free.  Memorial and monuments are always free and open every day of the year 24/7.

How far do I have to walk to see the cherry blossoms?

It’s about a mile to walk around the Tidal Basin. But, if you take the Metro or park several blocks away and also walk through the Jefferson, FDR, and MLK Memorials and up to the Washington Monument, it’s at least twice that distance. A visit all around the memorials is a walk of several miles. 

Cherry Blossom Tours

Should I take a bus tour to see the cherry blossoms?

Any bus tour in the afternoon or weekends during peak bloom is likely to get you stuck in an enormous traffic jam. Only do this if you hate yourself.

What is the best tour to see the Cherry Blossoms?

A pedicab tour allows you to go at your own pace and stop where you like for photos.  This is a private tour one-on-one with your tour guide.  Nonpartisan Pedicab offers a special Cherry Blossom Tour.  We also offer several other tours that can be seen on our Featured Tours page.  A pedicab tour is comfortable, fun and educational.  And, we can navigate much easier around the Tidal Basin and to the Memorials than any other form of transportation during the Cherry Blossom season.

National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020

Can I park near the Tidal Basin during the National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020?

During full bloom, it would be foolish to attempt to drive around the Tidal Basin in the afternoon, particularly during the weekend.  You could literally get stuck in your car for hours.  If you come in the morning, parking lots A, B, and C are somewhat near the Jefferson Memorial on Ohio Drive SW.  Streetside parking all along Ohio Drive SW is available in East Potomac Park.  During the days of the National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020, a $1 shuttle will run from Hains Point to the Jefferson Memorial.  Parking at these National Park Service locations costs $2 per hour for a maximum of 3 hours, paid by credit card. Please note that the traffic patterns on Ohio Drive shift during the Cherry Blossom Festival.  The only vehicular access to get to East Potomac Park during this time is heading south on 395 from Washington DC towards Virginia and exiting onto Ohio Drive SW/East Potomac Park.  If you miss the exit, you will end up in Virginia.  A much better bet is to park at the Ronald Reagan Building.  They have a large underground lot that never gets entirely full on Pennsylvania Avenue a few blocks from the Tidal Basin.  The Tidal Basin Parking Area is closed during the entirety of the National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020 because a street fair of tents with exhibitions and activities is located there during this time.

MLK Memorial Cherry Blossoms

Are there restrooms near the Tidal Basin?

Permanent National Park Service restrooms can be found in all the monuments.  Near to the Tidal Basin you will find restrooms at the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the MLK Memorial, the WWII Memorial, and two restrooms on the grounds of the Washington Monument.  During the National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020, numerous portable restrooms will also be available at the Jefferson Memorial and at the Tidal Basin Parking Area.

Are any refreshments available around the Tidal Basin?

The National Park Service has a licensed food kiosk near the Jefferson Memorial.  Expect it to be crowded during peak bloom.  The Holocaust Museum has a cafeteria open to the public on 15th Street just south of Independence Avenue open until about 3:00 PM.  There may be licensed food vendors at the Tidal Basin Parking Area festival activity tents.  The American History Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture have cafeterias open during museum hours.  The nearest real restaurants are on Pennsylvania Avenue or at the SW Waterfront.

What events take place during the National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020?

Here are some of the major events scheduled to take place during the National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020:

Saturday, March 21, 2020 — Opening Ceremony at the Warner Theater 5:00 PM.  This event requires tickets.

Saturday, March 28, 2020 — Blossom Kite Festival.  Thousands of kites are flown on the grounds of the Washington Monument all day long.  Free.

Sunday, March 29, 2020 — Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony.  3:00 PM.  This event is not yet firmly scheduled and depends on the actual bloom of the cherry trees.  Warning: Date subject to change.

Saturday, April 4, 2020 — National Cherry Blossom Parade.  The parade runs from 7th Street up along Constitution Avenue past the White House and ends at 17th Street.  There are bleachers with paid tickets in the vicinity of the Washington Monument, but you can also watch the parade for free anywhere along its route on Constitution Avenue.  10:00 AM to 12:00 PM.  INSIDERS TIP:  Go to the staging area before the start of the parade on 7th Street between Constitution Avenue and Jefferson Drive to walk among the bands, floats and entertainers waiting for the parade to start.

Saturday, April 11, 2020 — Petalpalooza — SW Waterfront.  A full day of fun of live music and engaging activities.  Fireworks in the evening.  Free.

There are over 150 events scheduled to take place from March 20 – April 12, 2020.  Here is a full calendar of all events associated with the National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020.  

What is the history of the cherry trees in Washington DC?

In 1912, Japan gave the United States 3020 cherry trees to plant around the newly constructed Tidal Basin.  Over the years, the cherry trees have become an enormous attraction in Washington DC.  There are around 3750 cherry trees around the Tidal Basin today, including some of the original 108 year old trees from 1912.  The National Park Service provides a complete history of the cherry trees in Washington DC.

Cherry Blossom Tours by Nonpartisan Pedicab

Cherry Blossom tours by Nonpartisan Pedicab

What else should I see in Washington DC?

What to see in Washington DC? is a great resource for information on monuments, museums, impressive government buildings, and historic neighborhoods in Washington DC.