Recently, I was lucky enough to be in Washington, D.C. during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Seeing these beautiful trees has been on my bucket list for quite some time and I am so happy that I was finally able to view them. Pictures do not even begin to do these plants justice, particularly when a gust of wind comes along, causing the blossoms to swirl through the air! Unfortunately, the 2018 bloom has ended, but that does not mean it is too early to start planning for 2019. Here, I discuss the history of the cherry blossoms, as well as when and where to see them.
A Little Background
The first cherry blossoms came to Washington, DC in 1912 as a gift from the mayor of Tokyo to celebrate the peace between Japan and the United States. In March of that year, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, the wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted two of the 3000 gifted cherry blossoms in the Tidal Basin. The first official Cherry Blossom Festival took place in 1927 and the even has been going strong every spring since. Now, the Cherry Blossom Festival takes place over four weekends in the spring, bringing millions of visitors who hope to see these delicate flowers.
“Peak bloom” refers to a time when 70% of the cherry blossom trees are open. Since flowers rely on environmental conditions to bloom, the peak bloom season varies from year to year. Typically, peak bloom takes place from mid-March to mid-April with the actual bloom lasting around two weeks. If you’re trying to plan visiting Washington, DC during peak bloom, check out the National Parks Service Bloom Watch to see the data from previous years.
Best Places to View
While many of the monuments around DC have cherry blossoms, the bulk of the trees are located along the Tidal Basin. I visited the cherry blossom trees toward the end of peak bloom, so many had begun to turn white. Thankfully, many in the MLK and FDR Memorial areas around the Tidal Basin were still bright pink!
Seeing the cherry blossoms is something I won’t soon forget. Hopefully, I’ll be able to visit at least a few more times before I kick the bucket. Have you ever visited the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC? Let me know all about your experience in the comments below.