Washington, DC’s Cherry Blossoms – Experience Them From Home This Year
Washington DC is a great city any time of the year, but it especially so in spring when the cherry blossom trees bloom.
A visit to Washington DC is always great, with its many monuments, museums, art galleries and more. However, one of the best times to visit is in spring when the cherry blossom trees bloom. Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is held here. The festival is even happening this year, with a series of “hybrid” and online events amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
You Can Experience Washington DC’s Cherry Blossoms Without Leaving Home
The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from mid-March to mid-April. The month-long festival normally celebrates the arrival of spring with hundreds of special exhibitions and performances. There are also paddle boat rides in the Tidal Basin, cultural fairs, a parade, evening strolls by lantern light and a final, incredible fireworks display.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things are different this year. The restrictions on large gatherings have urged park service officials to tell people to stay home this year. However, they will still be able to enjoy the sight of pink and white cherry blossoms online via BloomCam.
How Did The National Cherry Blossom Festival Come To Be?
The annual, month-long event commemorates a gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the city of Washington in 1912 by the Mayor of Tokyo, Yukio Ozaki. On March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Iwa Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first two cherry trees on the north bank of the Tidal Basin.
Thanks to the support of several civil groups in Washington DC, the Cherry Blossom Festival expanded in 1935. By this time, the cherry blossoms were a trademark for the city. However, in 1965, First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson accepted 3,800 more trees making the city even more beautiful in the spring.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Now
In normal years, it is estimated that more than 1.5 million people attend the festival. Depending on the weather conditions, the National Park Service expects the peak bloom for the cherry blossoms to take place between April 2 and 5 this year. Experts define the day on which 70 percent of the Yoshino cherry trees surrounding the Tidal Basin open their blossom as being the peak bloom date.
However, this year visitors are urged to avoid descending in droves on the area due to the restrictions on large gatherings.
For those who do attend, there is a 10-mile run, a 3-mile run/walk or a half-mile children’s run to enjoy among the hosts of pink and white blossoms. However, this year those at home can experience a 3.3-mile virtual tour and a 360-degree bike ride experience online instead.
Other attractions in DC’s eight wards include 25 blossom-themed art sculptures, designed by local artists. The traditional petal porch parade and processions will be held as mini-versions in different neighborhoods of the city.
Even the highly popular Pink Tie Party will be virtual this year, as well as the Blossom Kite Festival. In the latter, normally, kites of all shapes and sizes are flown on the public field next to the Washington Monument. However, this year, participants will fly their kites in their neighborhood park or their own backyard.
Actress Drew Barrymore will be hosting a nationally-syndicated TV show with celebrity performances. Diana Mayhew, president and CEO of the festival, said, “In keeping with the festival tradition we will unite the city and the region, engaging local businesses and restaurants and we’ll be in bloom with pink lighting and blossom decor.”
While it may be disappointing for many people who usually enjoy the National Cherry Blossom Festival in person, those who normally wouldn’t be able to travel there will also be able to experience the beauty this year. The festival will run from March 20 through April 11. Check the full list of events and online offerings on the National Cherry Blossom Festival website