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National Cherry Blossom Festival: 2023's Ultimate Guide

National Cherry Blossom Festival: 2023's Ultimate Guide
Dariana Carter
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Dariana is a freelance travel writer on a mission to tell engaging, humorous, and true stories of her unique adventures abroad and, perhaps, encourage a few hesitant individuals to start their next adventures too. Her content focuses on tips, history, culture, and the natural beauty in every corner of the Earth. Besides travel, she writes about health and lifestyle and is an avid student, always searching for knowledge and improvement.

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Cherry blossoms are a beautiful part of nature. Each year around March and April, cherry trees bloom in stunning shades of pink and white to mark the start of springtime.

Many people associate cherry trees with Japan, where they are celebrated for the transient beauty of their blossoms. However, did you know these trees also have a colorful and meaningful history in the United States? They symbolize renewal and friendship!

Unlike the thrilling Burning Man Festival or Lollapalooza, you don't need to buy National Cherry Blossom Festival tickets. Therefore, it's the perfect way to get out and enjoy the beauty of nature for free.

So if you're looking for a unique way to enjoy the festivities, look no further. This is your guide to navigating and appreciating all that this exciting celebration has to offer!

What Is the National Cherry Blossom Festival?

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a celebration of spring. With the blooming of thousands of beautiful cherry trees that grow around the city of Washington, D.C., the streets are transformed into a riot of pink blossom and heady fragrance.

This festival is an open-air event. Those who gather can view the beautiful trees, attend cultural performances, and watch fireworks and parades. There's also delicious food from street vendors and many other exciting events to enjoy.

View of cherry blossoms next to river in Washington, DC
Photo by R M on Unsplash

When Is the Cherry Blossom Festival?

The National Cherry Blossom Festival takes place during the spring months of March and April. The exact dates vary but typically fall between mid-March through mid-April every year. It is best to keep an eye out for updates. 

This year, the festival will be held March 20 – April 16, 2023, with particular events occurring on different days of the weeks-long festival. The event starts in the Tidal Basin near the Washington Monument.

When Did the National Cherry Blossom Festival Begin?

The National Cherry Blossom Festival began in 1927 with the help of a school-aged child. In 1935, the festival was expanded to include more of the features we associate with it today.

In 1994, the festival grew again, becoming a celebration spanning 4 whole weeks. By 2012, the festival was favored enough to happen over 5 weeks.

This annual event is now one of the most popular festivals in Washington, D.C. It is a major draw for domestic and international tourists.

What Does the National Cherry Blossom Festival Commemorate? 

The National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of cherry trees from Tokyo's Mayor Yukio Ozaki to Washington, D.C.

These cherry trees symbolize friendship between the two countries. Each year since 1927, the city has celebrated the tree's arrival in March - April with the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Cherry blossoms lining pathway to building
Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash

What Happens at the Festival?

The festival features various activities, including performances by local musicians and dancers, art exhibitions, and food vendors! In 2023, there will be a grand parade, kite festival, art exhibitions, and more. 

At the time of publishing, the events and dates are as follows:

  • Opening Ceremony: March 25, 2023
  • Art in Bloom: March 25, 2023
  • Blossom Kite Festival: March 25, 2023
  • Petalpalooza: April 8, 2023
  • Parade: April 15, 2023
  • Sakura Street Festival: April 15-16, 2023

You can confirm the details and dates for each event on the Washington.org site. There may be last-minute changes to the schedule or new events added. 

Is the National Cherry Blossom Festival Free?

Yes, with a few exceptions. Most of the events are free and can be enjoyed by the public throughout the day. You can spend as little or as much money as you like at the festival. 

However, a few of the scheduled events in the 2023 line-up do require purchased tickets. These events include the Pink Tie Party, Virtual Run, Parade, and the Japanese Street Festival.  

You can check prices and order your tickets directly from the National Cherry Blossom Festival website.

Other Cherry Blossom Festivals Around the World

As well as the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., several other cherry blossom festivals are held worldwide each year.

In particular, Japan and Canada hold large and well-known festivals starting around the same time as the one in the United States. 

The Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival

In Japan, many cities host springtime festivals to celebrate the beauty of the cherry blossom season and honor the cherry trees that grace their country each year. 

The Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the most popular ones. 

women in kimonos admiring cherry blossoms
Photo by bady abbas on Unsplash

The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival  

In Vancouver, Canada, the annual Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is held in April to celebrate cherry blossoms' blooming around Stanley Park and other parts of the city. This festival includes tree walks, a picnic day, and food stalls. 

This lovely Canadian city's cherry blossom festival has a similar history to that of Washington, D.C. The festival honors the bond between Japan and Canada, as most of the cherry trees were gifted by Japan decades ago. 

Unlike the American festival, the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival began in 2005, with the first event in 2006. The festival aims to unite Vancouver citizens from diverse backgrounds and of various ages.

This year, the event is between April 1-23, 2023.

Tips for Attending the National Cherry Blossom Festival

If you're heading to D.C. for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, here are some tips for making the most of your experience.

Get There Early

The Tidal Basin area will be packed with people taking advantage of the lovely views, so try to show up nice and early to get the best spot. This is especially true if driving, as good parking spaces fill up quickly in a city like Washington, D.C.

Come Prepared 

You'll want to make sure you capture the gorgeous pink of the trees, plus any other memories you make at this fab event, so don't forget to charge your phone fully before arriving at the event. Also, bring a power bank to recharge your phone on the spot. 

More importantly, wear comfortable shoes. You'll be doing a lot of walking, and you don't want to ruin your day by wearing something that won't last the distance. 

Lastly, bring cash. Some vendors may prefer cash or won't accept credit cards, and it's better to have physical money on you, just in case. 

Get Involved

Did you know you can register to be a part of the festival? If you want to perform, volunteer to work the event, or donate, you can register on the website. 

cherry blossoms in dc at sunset
Photo by Caleb Wright on Unsplash

Enjoy Your Next Festival With Pilot

By now, you must be excited to go to your first National Cherry Blossom Festival! To help you get organized, Why not use Pilot trip planer to help organize your trip? 

Pilot is your brand new trip planner that helps you discover and build travel itineraries connecting you to resources everywhere. Make the planning experience more fun by collaborating with your travel buddies! 

Pilot makes it fun and easy to share and relive your favorite travel memories with many useful features!

Did we mention that it's completely free? Try it out now!


Disclosure: Pilot is supported by our community. We may earn a small commission fee with affiliate links on our website. All reviews and recommendations are independent and do not reflect the official view of Pilot.

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