Today Also Belongs to the Past: Cherry Blossoms Bloom Early in DC


Under the cherry-blossoms
none are
utter strangers.

Cherry blossoms in evening.
Ah well, today also
belongs to the past.

-Kobayashi Issa


Photo Credit: David Fillingham

The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival is more than simply a popular springtime DC event: the art of hanami (flower-viewing) is a truly unique experience honoring simplicity, beauty, and the cultural arts that have flourished for centuries abroad as well as at home.

What’s all the fuss about flowers? The cross-cultural relationship between Japan and the United States is memorialized by the arboreal gift to our nation’s capital in 1912. The reflection of the blossoms on the Tidal Basin is evocative of the centuries-old Japanese tradition of valuing the fragile, ephemeral nature of life, and savoring memories as the pinnacle of human experience. The delicate cherry blossoms are only in their prime beauty for a short period of time, the peak of a natural aesthetic to be shared with loved ones (and sake!), but perhaps even more important than experiencing the beauty is knowing it cannot last forever—and remembering the impression it had on us.


Photo Credit: David Fillingham

And the unpredictable weather as of late will ensure those blossoms’ impermanence! As a result of the unseasonably warm temperatures throughout the district, weather forecasters predict the peak blooming period to be March 15 through 17, though the scheduled festival dates remain the same. DC cherry blossoms draw considerable crowds from across the country and the world, so plan to arrive early and anticipate lots of walking!

Experience the full cultural showcase for the whole family:

Beginning on March 25, the sold-out Opening Ceremony at the Warner Theatre embodies the special bond between Tokyo and DC with stunning musical and theatrical elements.

The Kite Festival at the National Mall (4/1, 10am) encourages you to bring your own kites or children can make one onsite. Watch the skies Saturday morning for a spectacle of vibrance and skill in the masterful kite-flying exhibitions that have been beloved in Japan for thousands of years.

Celebrate during the Cherry Blossom Parade (4/8, 10am) on Constitution Ave between 9th and 17th streets. The parade route viewing areas are free to the public, or you can purchase tickets for the prime grandstand seating.


Photo Credit: David Fillingham

Immediately following the parade (4/8, 10:30-6:30) the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival stretches six blocks in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, and includes a vast array of traditional and high-energy performances. Sakura Matsuri (literally “cherry blossom festival”) encapsulates the fusion of Japanese-American cultures both old and new, with fantastic food, shows of unique craftsmanship ranging from kimono to samisen, and area groups of adorable singing children, language-learning experts, and ancient martial arts skill.

Capture the memories of DC’s iconic Cherry Blossoms around the Tidal Basin until April 16, weather permitting!

Where to dine— For the quintessential Japanese experience with a quirky assortment of spirits, visit the Cherry Blossom Pub in Shaw.

For all the latest news and ticketing information for Cherry Blossom Festival events, visit:

Written by: Stephanie T.