There is no better way to welcome spring than to head to Washington, D.C. to see the cherry blossoms. The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs March 20 to April 12 and has a host of events for kids and adults.
The festival celebrates the gift of the cherry blossom trees, and the enduring friendship between the people of the United States and Japan. There are daily events that promote arts, culture and the community spirit including fireworks, a parade, festivals and even ranger-led programs. Most events are free and open to the public.
Read on for a sampling of programs or check the Bloom Watch to find out the best time to head down and just enjoy the blossoms. As of early March, the 2015 Peak Bloom prediction dates were April 11-14.
Cherry Blossom Festival activities for families
Ranger-Led Programs, March 28-April 12
- Cherry Blossom Ranger Talks. Thomas Jefferson Memorial Plaza. Daily, every hour from 10am-9pm.
- Walks with a Ranger. Explore the memorials and history of the cherry blossoms. Lincoln Memorial. Daily, 2-4pm.
- Lantern Walk. Bring a flashlight and enjoy the memorials and blossoms at night. NPS Tent, Tidal Basin Welcome Area. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, March 28-April 12, 8-10pm.
- Bike Tour. Bring a bike, helmet and water for a leisurely ride. Thomas Jefferson Memorial. March 28-April 12, 2-5pm.
- Running Tour. Leisurely 3.5-mile jog to learn about the blossoms. Washington Monument Lodge (15th St. adjacent to the monument). March 28-April 12.
- Pups ‘n’ Petals. Bring a furry friend to enjoy a casual walk. Lincoln Memorial. March 28-April 12, 2-4pm.
- Bloomin’ Junior Ranger. Complete an activity book about cherry blossoms and earn a badge. NPS Information Kiosks throughout the park.
- Junior Ranger Activity Zone. NPS Tent, Tidal Basin Welcome Area. Saturdays and Sundays, March 28-April 12, 10am-5pm.
Cherry Blossom Celebration, March 28
A day full of Japanese art, films, family activities, tours and more at The Freer and Sackler Galleries. There will be an ArtJamz painting party for all ages but registration is required; a Trunk Show with vintage Japanese garments; book singing of Cherry Blossoms, a keepsake book and more. 11am-4:30pm.
Blossom Kite Festival, March 28
See the creativity of kite makers and the skill of kite fliers from across the United States through competitions and demonstrations. Five areas to explore including the Competition & Demonstration Field, Family Field, Kite Club Display Area, Activity Tents and Public Field. Free. 10am-4:30pm on the Washington Monument grounds, Constitution and 17th streets NW.
Lantern Making Family Day, April 4
The official event of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, there will be two sessions of lantern making for children and adults. Also a variety of Japanese cultural activities, a moon bounce and more. Sessions at 10 a.m. and noon. Free. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Canal Park, 200 M St. SE, Washington D.C.
Cherry Blossom Family Celebration, April 4
Craft activities, live music, gardening demonstrations, Japanese paper dioramas and more. Free. 11:30am-4:30pm. 8th and G streets, NW, Washington, D.C.
Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival, April 4
Music, family friendly water-related activities, fireworks and more. Free. 1-9pm. Southwest Waterfront, Washington, D.C.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, April 11
Runs 10 blocks along Constitution Avenue. Helium balloons, elaborate floats, marching bands, celebrity entertainers and performers. Grandstand seating, $20; the rest, free. 10am-noon. Constitution Avenue from 7th-17th streets, NW.
Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival, April 11
Largest one-day celebration of Japanese culture in the U.S. with over 50 cultural groups, vendors and food booths and over 30 hours of performances on four stages. Advance tickets, $8 online; day of festival, $10 online or at the gate; after 3 p.m. $5; children 12 and under, free. Pennsylvania Ave., NW, between 9th and 14th streets.
Cherry Blossom Festival events for adults
Art at the Center, March 20
Free public art tour at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Free but RSVP at email@example.com or 202-249-3200. 6:30-8:30pm.
ArtJamz: Cherry Blossoms, March 26 & April 9
Painting party hosted by DC’s popular ArtJamz. Starts with expert-led tour in the Freer and the create your own masterpiece in the Sackler’s ImaginAsia classroom with friends, drinks and tunes. Materials and refreshments included. Over 21 only. Advanced registration required: asia.si.edu/events. 7-9pm. Freer and Sackler Galleries, 1050 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C.
Tamagawa University Taiko Drumming and Dance Troupe, April 9
Special performance on the National Mall. One of the top-ranking taiko groups in Japan. Pricing TBD. Noon. Free Sackler Galleries, 1050 Independence Ave., SW.
For more events and updated details visit the National Cherry Blossom website.