Family Guide to DC’s Cherry Blossom Festival


The beginning of spring and the National Cherry Blossom Festival is marked by beautiful bursts of color from the many varieties of cherry trees in the area. Celebrating this symbol of renewal and friendship is an annual tradition for many families, but this year the celebration will look different due to the continued presence of COVID-19.

Last year, DC officials urged people not to flock to the Tidal Basin because social distancing would be difficult, if not impossible, to maintain. Those warnings were not heeded, so the Tidal Basin was effectively closed down with the closure of numerous streets and parking lots in the area. Local officials have once again urged the public to stay away from the area. They also acknowledge that it may have to be closed down again. The National Park Service has not yet announced how, when, or if the Tidal Basin will be open for cherry blossom viewing. Despite this uncertainty and the continued need for social distancing there are many ways that families can still enjoy cherry blossom season in our region.

Bloom Watch
The National Park Service provides information about the blooming for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. It has predicted that Peak Bloom will be between April 2nd and April 5th. Check out its website for more detailed information about the blooming process for Yoshino Cherry trees and historical blooming dates. It is important to note that this prediction can change as weather can alter it.

The Trust for the National Mall has partnered with EarthCam to provide BloomCam. It allows people from all across the country and from around the world to monitor and enjoy the cherry blossoms surrounding the Tidal Basin 24/7 live, in real-time.

Cherry Blossom Kids
The National Park Service has put together fun and educational activities that will help kids celebrate this annual DC tradition. Kids can become a “Bloomin’ Junior Ranger” by taking a virtual walk around the Tidal Basin with a ranger and friends. Investigate the Mystery of the Broken Branch, learn all about the cherry trees, and learn how one can help protect the trees. Explore the Humans, Wildlife, and Cherry Trees program for a fun remote learning experience.

Cherry Tree Hunt
Japan originally gifted 12 varieties of cherry trees to Washington, DC. Each varies in its bloom appearance and blooming schedule. Have your kids familiarize themselves with this handy NPS Cherry Field Guide. As you enjoy the outdoors, work with them to identify which trees they see. Your family could set a goal to identify each type of varietal as the season progresses.

9 Unique Places to View the Cherry Blossoms
There are places in the DMV to see cherry blossoms other than the Tidal Basin. This list was compiled pre-pandemic, but some of these locations could still be visited responsibly and safely. Make sure you check the opening status and COVID restrictions of any location before heading out.

Renewal 2121
ARTECHOUSE has opened with a limited capacity and it has taken additional safety measures in light of the current pandemic. You can now purchase tickets for an installation running until September 6th. Renewal 2121 seeks to inspire hope amid a global pandemic and concerns of climate change. Transporting visitors 100 years into the future, it immerses them in an industrial city where nature fights to survive amid an overdeveloped metropolis. There is a hopeful message to be discovered as blossoms are seen peeking through the plastic, concrete, and neon lights, ready to renew the season with the help of those willing to take action.

National Cherry Blossom Festival
This beloved tradition of celebrating springtime will run from March 20th through April 11th. The Festival invites residents, visitors, and fans from across the globe to “step into spring” with a diverse variety of both virtual and personal experiences while also prioritizing the health and safety of everyone involved. Check out the festival website to explore all festival-related events and activities. We have highlighted some that may be of particular interest to families in this list.

Festival Opening Ceremony
The Festival will kick-off on March 20th. This virtual event, which will be live streamed at 6 pm, will be co-hosted by Olympic Gold Medalist Kristi Yamaguchi and ABC 7’s Michelle Marsh. It will feature special performances from acclaimed artists with ties to both countries. Viewing is free, but registration is required.

Art In Bloom
Twenty-six oversized cherry blossom statues have been painted by local artists and placed in all eight wards of the District, plus National Harbor and the neighborhoods of Aurora Highlands and National Landing in Northern Virginia. Go on a Blossom Hunt to find sculptures and take photos of them. Now through May 31, your photo could be randomly selected to win a an Amazon gift card.

Petal Porch Parade
DMV residents are invited to unleash their creativity and celebrate their cherry blossom spirit by decorating their porches, yards, or windows. The Festival will produce a virtual map with the locations of all registered Petal Porches, so you can plan a walk, bike, or drive around your neighborhood to see and share in the celebration of spring. The Petal Porch Parade will take place from March 20th until April 11th. On the weekend of April 10th-11th, a Petal Procession will drive through select Petal Porch Parade neighborhoods in and around DC.

SAMM Virtual Cherry Blossom Celebration
On March 20th from 10 am to 11 am, SAAM will host a virtual program full of springtime fun for the whole family. Enjoy a lively performance of traditional Japanese Taiko drumming by the group Nen Daiko and learn how they plan their performances and design their own instruments. Kids can also explore art, nature, and color with SAAM’s docents. Register online.

Chalk Walk
View a unique, Instagrammable, and cherry blossom-inspired 3D art installation. DowntownDC’s ChalkWalk is an immersive spring art experience located in the Gallery Place Alley off 7th Street NW. It can be enjoyed from March 20th through April 30th.

Pop Up Street Theater
The Synetic Theater will bring world class street theater to Arlington during the National Cherry Blossom Festival. On Sundays from March 21st through April 11th, a pair of physical theater improvisers will be making special appearances at the Art Wall in Virginia Highlands Park, the Crystal City Water Park, and the Long Bridge Park Esplanade.

Paws and Petals Parade
If you have a pup that enjoys dressing up, join this virtual parade. It will be fun for those with or without dogs in the family. The parade will be posted on Instagram on April 3rd. You must enter by March 24th.

Blossom Kite Fly
This is typically one of the most popular Festival events, drawing hundreds to the National Mall for kite flying fun. This year, it looks much different. Now through March 27th, you can register to receive first access to virtual kite-making workshops and demos. Then, on March 27th and 28th, participants are encouraged to take to the skies and fly kites in their own backyard or neighborhood park.

Blossoms & Baseball Drive-In at Capital Riverfront
Spring is being welcomed back to the Capitol Riverfront during Opening Day Weekend with cherry blossom cheer and baseball-themed movies. 42: The True Story of an American Legend will be featured on April 2nd and A League of Their Own will be featured on April 3rd. Tickets can be purchased online for $20. Pre-movie trivia, prizes, and giveaways will be featured throughout the weekend.

Sakura Matsura – Virtual Gathering
On April 3rd, join the Japan-America Society of Washington DC for the Sakura Matsuri – Virtual Community Gathering. Enjoy stage performances and the opportunity to interact live with many of your favorite Sakura Matsuri exhibitors, vendors and participants.

Kimono for Kids
Join the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum for an interactive discussion of Japanese traditional clothing on April 3rd. You can also work on a simple craft project made from materials found at home and inspired by Japanese textiles. Register online.

Anacostia River Festival
This virtual event celebrating Anacostia Park’s past, present, and future is the official closing event of the Cherry Blossom Festival. It will be held on April 11th at 1pm. This free virtual event will celebrate the history of GoGo and share activities to reconnect you to the river and the outdoors. Enjoy the sounds of Pure Elegance with special guests and experience a virtual walk through the 11th Street Bridge Park. RSVP to receive updates and a reminder to tune-in.

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Julie is a proud born and bred Texan, but has called DC home since 2001. She studied at the University of Texas and then moved to DC to get her MPA at the George Washington University. Julie worked for ten years for a Member of Congress, where she loved working to impact public policy. In 2013, her world turned inside out when she gave birth to twins and decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Currently Julie lives in the H Street Corridor with her husband, two kids, and their increasingly grouchy senior dog, Presley. Yes, please: movie dates with her husband, trying new restaurants, exploring DC with her kids, last minute road trips, being outdoors, festivals (of any kind), girls’ night out, and a rainy day with “Pride and Prejudice.” No, thank you: hot and humid summers, mistreating animals, Legos (ouch!), public speaking, laundry, raw fish