DC Cherry Blossom Festival Travel Guide & More!

The biggest Cherry Blossom festival in the US will be kicking off in Washington, D.C. earlier than expected this year! The unseasonably warm weather in past weeks has forced event planners to push up the start date of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival to March 15 to accommodate what might be the earliest "peak bloom" of the Japanese trees in festival history!

Read on to find out everything you'll need to know in order to view the sublime cherry blossoms in our nation's capital this year, and for more information on all of the fun events taking place throughout the festival!

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Cherry Blossom Viewing Information & History

Key Dates & Events

Getting To The Cherry Blossoms: Travel Information & Tips


A Very Cherry DC Spring Is Blossoming


1912 - 3,000 cherry trees are gifted to the United States by Japan to honor the lasting friendship between the two countries. The trees are planted in Washington D.C.'s Tidal Basin region. 

1965: First Lady Lady Bird Johnson accepts a second gift of 3,800 Japanese cherry trees on behalf of the U.S. 

1981: The United States reciprocates, gifting cuttings to Japan to replace cherry trees of their own that had been destroyed by a flood. 

Today: About 3,750 cherry trees remain in and around the District's Tidal Basin region, as well as on the National Mall. Each spring, they bloom almost simultaneously, creating an inescapable pink blanket in part of Washington D.C.'s southwest quadrant. Crowds flock to the nation's capital to catch a glimpse of the trees and to participate in the festive events celebrating their bloom and the arrival of spring. 


When will the cherry blossom trees bloom? That's the question on everyone's minds! The National Park Service horticulturists have predicted the 2017 peak bloom dates to be between March 14-17. "Peak bloom" occurs when more than 70% of the cherry trees are blossoming. Blossoms can remain open from 4-10 days after they bloom, depending on the weather. If the predictions are accurate, the blossoms could be gone as soon as March 27!

Should peak bloom be achieved by March 14, it will be the earliest peak bloom date in history, besting the previous record of March 15 that was set in 1990. 


Washington D.C.'s cherry trees are most conveniently viewed in the marshy Tidal Basin area, as well as on the National Mall, and both East and West Potomac Park. 

The Tidal Basin Welcome Area on the south side of the National Mall is open each day during the festival from 10am - 7pm and serves as a good place to start for visitors. Here you can find you'd ever need about the cherry trees and festival events, as well as food, bathrooms, souvenirs, and first aid. 

Key Festival Events and Dates

March 15 - April 2: Tidal Basin Welcome Area Open -- 10am - 7pm daily. 

March 16: Pink Tie Party - Ronald Reagan Building -- 7pm - 11pm

March 26: Opening Ceremony - Warner Theater -- 5pm - 6:30pm

April 1: Blossom Kite Festival - Washington Monument -- 10am - 4:30pm 

  • A great event for the whole family! Fly high on the National Mall. 

April 8: Festival Parade & Sakura Japanese Street Festival - Constitution Avenue -- 10am

  • Don't miss this signature event as floats and entertainers travel down 10 blocks of Constitution Ave.
  • Free standing areas are located between 9th and 15th streets, grand stand seating is ticketed

April 15: Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival - 7th and Water St. -- 2pm - 9:30pm

  • A day long festival including live music and family-friendly activities precedes a fireworks show at 8:30pm. 
  • Find and pay for parking near the event ahead of time, right here!

National Cherry Blossom Travel Tips

DC CIRCULATOR - Take advantage of the DC Circulator's National Mall route for easy access to the Tidal Basin and National Mall. 

BIKING - Capital Bikeshare has many stations near the Tidal Basin. You can take an available bike from any station, ride to your destination, and return it to the nearest station of your choice. Pricing: $2 per trip, or $8 for 24-hour access. 

METRO - You can plan ahead by visiting the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority website to view station maps and schedules. The National Cherry Blossom Festival recommends using the Smithsonian Station, L'Enfant Plaza Station, or the 7th Street & Maryland Avenue exit when visiting the blossoms.

WATER SHUTTLE - Water taxis are available from Georgetown to the Tidal basin for $20 roundtrip, or $12 one way. You must purchase tickets ahead of time.


Almost 2 million visitors are expected during the National Cherry Blossom Festival from March 15- April 2. Limited public parking is available on Ohio Drive near the Tidal Basin. The last thing you'll want is to be competing with the crowd for a coveted parking spot. Worse, you could pay an arm and a leg at the last minute out of desperation. 

Parking Panda is here to help your day go smoothly! Reserve parking for each day or festival event, knowing that your space is 100% guaranteed even when the garage becomes full. Compare prices and pick the most convenient garage that fits your plans! The garage operator will save your space for the time purchased. Take a look at all of our offerings in the window below. The location of the cherry trees has been outlined in pink. 


The Tidal Basin is accessible by the following routes:

From the North: Interstate 495, New York Ave, Rock Creek & Potomac Parkway, George Washington Memorial Parkway, and Cabin John Parkway

From the South: Interstate 395

From the East: U.S. Routes 50, 1, & 4

From the West: Interstate 66, U.S. Routes 50 & 29 

Win Free Parking!

We're giving away free parking for The National Cherry Blossom Festival! All that you have to do is LIKE and SHARE or RETWEET our event guide posts on social media to be entered to win! We'll select a winner at random and notify them by March 15th! Follow the links below to make it happen:


If you have any questions or concerns, or need any recommendation on where to park for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, please don't hesitate to reach out to us via phone (800-232-6415) or email (support@parkingpanda.com)! 

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