Cherry Blossom Festival 101
CELEBRATING 90 YEARS
From the paddle boats to the parade, your guide to a bloomin’ good time at the city’s springtime spectacular.
No matter how many historic postcards or modernday selfies you’ve seen of D.C.’s exquisite cherry trees, nothing can prepare you for experiencing the capital in its pink-hued prime. Spring here is synonymous with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a nearly century-old tradition that commemorates Japan’s gift of more than 3,000 cherry trees to D.C. in 1912, thanks to Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki (above). This year marks the 90th anniversary of the first celebration, a small affair attended by former first lady Helen Taft, which featured a re-enactment of the first planting, a pageant of Japanese myths and a children’s performance of the “Cherry Petal Ballet.” The 2017 festival runs from March 20 to April 16, but before then the city collectively holds its breath as it awaits the first blossoms, which have opened as early as March 15 and as late as April 18. Though the trees remain in full bloom for only about five days, festival events occur daily for four weeks. Spring into this joyful season with the help of our guide.