It all started in 1912, when the mayor of Tokyo, as a gesture of friendship, gave the city of Washington a gift of 3,000 cherry trees. The original trees were planted around the Tidal Basin, and eventually were joined there, on Hains Point, and on the Washington Monument grounds by an additional 750 cherry trees.
Thousands of cherry trees continue to erupt each spring in delicate pink blossoms. Depending on weather, the cherry trees bloom for about 14 days anytime between mid-March and mid-April.
The city celebrates with a three-week National Cherry Blossom Festival. This Year’s (2018) festivities open March 20 and end April 15. Signature events include opening ceremonies at the Warner Theatre ( March 24, 2018), the Blossom Kite Festival on the Washington Monument grounds (10 am to 4: 30 p.m. March 31, 2018), and a parade along Constitution Avenue NW from 7th to 17th streets NW ( 10 a.m. to noon, April 14, 2018). Museums often schedule special events and venues host Japanese-themed performances, art exhibits, and outdoor activities.
Saturday, April 7, the District Wharf rocks with Petalpalooza, a free music festival from 1 p.m. to 9:30 pm. Fireworks explode at the District Wharf at 8:30 p.m., ifthe weather permits.
The festival coincides with spring breaks and together they equal DC at one of its most crowded seasons. But locals and visitors are exhilarated. Everyone gets into the act, with bars and restaurants crafting cherry drinks and dishes and hotels also offering special deals.
Try to take in at least one cool event. Most are free.