Guide to the National Cherry Blossom Festival with Kids


Spring is blooming in Washington, DC! The weather is beautiful. Flowers are blooming. It seems nature is ready to celebrate. And as the city bursts forth in frothy white flowers, we can enjoy the National Cherry Blossom Festival with kids. There are many events to help us celebrate this annual rite of spring. You can take a family art class, tour decorated petal porches in your neighborhood, or enjoy the Cherry Blossom festival parade, fireworks or kite festival.

There is something magical about this time of year in DC, as people from all walks of life come together to celebrate flowering trees. Peak bloom for trees at the Tidal Basin is forecast for March 23 – 26. The Cherry Blossom Festival includes events on the National Mall and in neighborhoods all over DC from March 20 – April 14. Here’s a guide to help you enjoy the National Cherry Blossom festival with Kids.

Top Ways to Enjoy the Cherry Blossom Festival with Kids

Blossom Kite Festival

When: Saturday, March 30, 10am – 4:30pm, on the grounds of the Washington Monument. Rain date Sunday March 31.

Let’s go fly a kite! The Blossom Kite Festival is one of my favorite ways to enjoy at the National Cherry Blossom Festival with kids. It is a delightful, colorful, low-tech party in the sky. It can feel like the final scene of Mary Poppins: there’s nowhere to go but up! Bring your own kite, pick up a free kite kit that you can decorate onsite, or just enjoy watching the multicolored sky parade. This year’s festival includes a day-long celebration of  traditional Japanese drumming and a demonstration of traditional Edo-style kites from Mr. Mikio Toki, all the way from Japan!

The Cherry Blossom Parade

When: Saturday, April 13, 10am – 12pm down Constitution Avenue, from 7th St. NW to 17th St. NW

No, the trees will not be on parade. Yes, high school marching bands will be! The event usually includes several large balloons, marching bands and dignitaries waving from the backs of vehicles. Performers in the parade are American Idol finalist, Colin Stough, and the iconic Sugar Hill Gang. This year’s parade includes special guests as Grand Marshal: the fabulous Mickey and Minnie Mouse! There are tickets available for grandstand seating, or you can arrive early and stake out a spot on the sidewalk along the route.

Cherry Blossom festival away from the Tidal Basin and National Mall!

There are several festival events that families can enjoy while avoiding the crowds and traffic of the Tidal Basin and the National Mall. Homes are invited to decorate petal porches to celebrate the season. In Fairfax, VA, The Children’s Science Lab will host its Festival Celebration that includes exploration of kite engineering, origami, wind science, and more. And the two-day Art Blooms festival in the Mosaic District will host many vendors and live entertainment.

The Annual Oxon Run Pinknic & Kite Fly on March 24th in Oxon Run Park will feature entertainment, kite programming, and more.

Petalpalooza at the Navy Yard will host a full day of family-friendly entertainment and hands-on activities. The event will end with a celebratory fireworks show set to music.

Try to visit the cherry blossom trees on a weekday to avoid the worst crowds. Photo by Allison Winter

Tips for Viewing Tidal Basin Cherry Blossom Trees with Kids

When: Peak bloom is forecast March 23 – 26. 

Of course, the main event is the resplendent blooms along the Tidal Basin and the Potomac River. The National Park Service has predicted peak bloom for March 23 – 26. Check the bloom watch for updates.

The Tidal Basin Welcome Area will be open March 23 – April 7, from 10am – 6pm. There will be music and performers on stage during the peak bloom days, an info tent from the National Park Service, and plenty of pink souvenirs for sale.


The crowds around the Tidal Basin can be pretty intense on any of the peak bloom dates, especially on the weekend closest to the peak bloom. When I go to the Cherry Blossom Festival with kids, I usually go on a weekday, either early in the morning before school or for a picnic after school.  You can also avoid crowds by visiting midday. And while there is something very special about the trees around the Tidal Basin, there are many other beautiful cherry blossom trees in DC. Check out our guide for other unique locations to view cherry blossom trees without the crowds.


Cherry blossoms are pretty. Cherry blossom traffic is not. You’ll want to avoid attempting to drive and park in the area, if you can. The closest metro stop to the Tidal Basin is the Smithsonian station, but be prepared for a 15-minute walk to the blossoms.

cherry blossom festival with kidsBringing Babies and Toddlers to the Cherry Blossoms

I have a distinct memory of the first time my firstborn took off running away from me: at the Cherry Blossom Festival! There can be some particular challenges to bringing little ones to the Tidal Basin.

Strollers and bathrooms

Strollers can be a great help, given all the walking you will likely do to get to and around the cherry blossom trees. And if you’re lucky, your baby might nap under the cherry trees in a stroller while you sit and enjoy the view.

But if you are at the Tidal Basin on a weekend during peak bloom, it can be very challenging to navigate a stroller on sidewalks crowded with people and camera tripods. If you are headed to the cherry blossom trees on a peak day, be prepared to stroll very slowly or bring a carrier for your child once you get to the crowds.

The MLK memorial, FDR memorial, and Jefferson Memorial each have bathrooms. The Cherry Blossom Festival also sets up a fleet of porta-jons near the festival welcome grounds.

Railings, or lack thereof

Most of the periphery of the Tidal Basin has no railing between the sidewalk and the water. And in the places where there is a railing, it’s not a toddler-proof barrier. So if you have a tiny kid with an irresistible urge to hurl themselves toward water, the Tidal Basin is not likely to be your happy place.

If you can manage the crowds and environment, it really is an amazing experience to see the trees in bloom. I have fond memories of watching my children run and dance around the trees when they were younger. Now it’s a tradition we return to every year, our own rite of spring.

What tips do you have when viewing Cherry Blossoms with Kids? Please leave them in the comments!

Check our March events guide for other fun DC area activities this month. And for a fun craft at home, check out these 3 Spring Cherry Blossom Painting Crafts with Kids!