The 2020 National Cherry Blossom Festival will be held March 20 through April 12, 2020.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade is scheduled for Saturday, April 4, 2010. The Blossom Kite Festival is scheduled for Saturday, March 28. And PetalPalooza at The Wharf (with fireworks) will be Saturday, April 11.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is typically scheduled around the average peak bloom date. The hope is that the blossoms will come out at some point during the festival, but there’s no guarantee of that and because the festival has gotten much longer in recent years–running about three weeks–it’s unlikely they’ll be out for the duration simply because it would be very unusual for the bloom to last that long. In 2014 and 2015 the peak bloom fell right at the end of the festival. In 2016 and 2017, with the early bloom, it fell right at the beginning of the festival–they even moved the opening of the 2017 and 2018 festivals at the last minute to try to accommodate an expected early bloom.
In recent years the festival has been extended to run across several weeks, which increases the chances that the peak bloom will fall within the festival dates, but it’s never guaranteed.
Tidal Basin Welcome Area
Each year, the Tidal Basin’s main parking lot, on Maine Ave SW (next to the paddle boats), is closed off to parking and converted into the Tidal Basin Welcome Area. It features information and activity tents from the National Park Service and National Cherry Blossom Festival, a performance stage, food tents, and dozens of portajohns. The area is open from 10am to 6pm with most of the activities and performances geared toward afternoons. Entry is free.
National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020 Major Events
Blossom Kite Festival. Saturday, March 28. Free. Held at the base of the Washington Monument, the Blossom Kite Festival includes competitive battle and tricks competitions but is also an opportunity to bring your own kite or, for kids, to make one on site. You can find more about it here.
PetalPalooza. Saturday, April 11. Entry is free. Hosted at the newly constructed Wharf area (formerly known as the Southwest Waterfront), this afternoon and evening festival includes a range of entertainment and eating options capped by evening fireworks along the waterfront. You can find logistical details about PetalPalooza here.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. Saturday, April 4. Standing room is free; stadium seating requires tickets. The parade runs along Constitution Avenue between the National Archives building and the Washington Monument and features performers, marching bands, giant balloons, and floats, many related to the general cherry blossom theme. You can find more specific information about the parade here and buy tickets here.
Where to Stay for DC’s Cherry Blossom Festival
If you’re planning to visit DC to see the cherry blossoms, I’d recommend make hotel reservations sooner rather than later–it can get busy and hotels can fill up. I’ve put together some recommendations on where to stay in DC with an eye specifically on visiting the cherry blossoms.
About the National Cherry Blossom Festival
The Festival is run by the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and features a number of events, exhibits, and performances related to the cherry blossoms and U.S.-Japanese relations. Among the events and activities are a parade, fireworks, concerts, and special exhibits that take their theme from the cherry blossoms. You can find more information at the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s official website. The Cherry Blossom Watch site is not affiliated with the festival.
Want to Help Support DC's Cherry Trees?
If you'd like to help support the care and upkeep of the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin, the Trust for The National Mall has launched an Endow a Cherry Tree Campaign. Donations go to the official Cherry Tree Endowment, which will give the National Park Service additional resources to fund the care, maintenance, and possible replacement of the cherry trees. You can find more information here.
The Trust is dedicated to marshaling private support for maintaining and improving the history National Mall area. I'm not affiliated with the Trust--just an admirer of their efforts.