Ultimate Guide To The Cherry Blossom Festival

Photo of Cherry Blossoms on Potomac River

If you’re planning a trip to Washington DC this Spring, you’re in for a real treat because it’s this time of year that the cherry blossom trees surrounding the tidal basin are in bloom. These magnificent trees are a sight to behold-creating a burst of bright pink hues that cast a rosy reflection on the water. But the beautiful blooming cherry blossoms are just the beginning because their arrival is a cause for celebration in the city and kicks off three weeks of events and excitement during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.  Read on for fun things to do and see during the Cherry Blossom Festival.

See the blossoms aboard the DUCK
One of the most unique experiences in the city, the DC Ducks tour will transport you to many of the most popular sights around DC, including a marvelous view of the beautiful cherry blossoms. This DC tour is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced, it’s a bus and a boat! The amphibious vehicle goes from land to water and back again without any hesitation and is an entertaining way to see the sights.

Ride a paddle boat in the Tidal Basin
For an incredible, picturesque view of the Cherry Trees, rent a paddleboat and take a relaxing ride in the Tidal Basin. The warmth of the sun, the view of the Jefferson Memorial and the cool breezes set the mood for Spring and make for a fun family outing while in Washington DC.

Check out the Blossom Kite Festival
For a high-flying good time head to the grounds of the Washington Monument. The event takes place from 10am to 4:30pm and is one of the most popular of the annual festivities in the Cherry Blossom Festival. Kite enthusiasts from all over the world come to show off their skills and their unique kites! This year’s theme is “Spring Around the World” and will showcase cultural heritage, international kite traditions and international friendships. There are kite displays, a variety of competitions for various age and skill levels, demonstrations and activity tents where kids can make kites and other crafts.

Photo of Cherry Tree with Blossoms

Take a free tour of the Cherry Blossom trees
The National Park Service offers free guided tours of the trees and gives visitors a chance to learn about the history of the Cherry Blossom Trees while viewing them in full bloom.

Take the kids to Cherry Blossom Family Days
Don’t miss the annual family days at the National Building Museum. There are a variety of fun family activities for children and adults to participate in and various interactive art demonstrations and live performances.

Enjoy the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
A favorite event during the Cherry Blossom Festival, this year’s Southwest Fireworks Festival includes hours and hours of family-friendly fun and entertainment including live concerts, food, arts and crafts, games, sailing activities and demonstrations and more. The grand finale, of course, is a spectacular fireworks show with the fireworks booming above and illuminating the water. The event takes place on the Southwest Waterfront, stretching over three blocks.

Watch the Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony
Unique and beautiful, this formal ceremony takes place on the North side of the Tidal Basin at the west end of Kutz Bridge. Watch as the Japanese stone lantern that was carved 360 years ago is lit, and learn about how and why it is lit only once a year during the Cherry Blossom Festival.

See the National Cherry Blossom Parade
More than 100,000 people come to witness this annual parade which is by far one of the largest public events in Washington DC. From the decorated floats, gigantic helium balloons, marching bands, clowns and horses to the antique cars, military and celebrity performances, dance troops, choirs and other performers, this is an event the whole family can enjoy! The parade takes place towards the end of the festival each year and begins along Constitution Avenue, ending at 17th Street.

Witness the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival
Make sure to visit the annual Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival. This spectacular event is known to be the largest Japanese street party in the country. Stretching over six blocks starting at Pennsylvania Avenue, you’ll be delighted by colorful costumes, Japanese performances on several stages, hundreds of performers including martial artists, exceptional cuisine from Japanese and Asian restaurants, interactive exhibits, Japanese products, arts and crafts and much more. The event begins at 10:30am and ends at 6pm.

Take a Lantern Tour
See the Cherry Blossoms and memorials at night during a Lantern Tour. Hold a Japanese lantern in your hand as you enjoy an evening of beauty and discovery. These special tours take place Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8pm-10pm during the festival. The tours begin at the Tidal Basin Welcome area.