The 2019 National Cherry Blossom Festival will be held March 20 through April 13, 2019.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade is scheduled for Saturday, April 13, 2010, the closing day of the festival. The Blossom Kite Festival for March 30, and the PetalPalooza at The Wharf (with fireworks) will be April 6.
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 2019 Major Events
Blossom Kite Festival. Saturday, March 30. 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 6. 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 13. 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.
How to Get Updates on the 2019 Cherry Blossoms
There are several ways to keep up to date with Cherry Blossom Watch updates.
CherryBlossomWatch.com This website is Cherry Blossom Watch HQ. New updates post here first. They're also more detailed and include more current photos than the other options below. So be sure to bookmark and check back often. If you'd like to receive instant automatic notifications directly from the website when new updates are posted, take a look at the browser notification option below.
Instagram. Follow the dedicated Instagram feed at @cherryblossomwatch. The posts are usually shorter and less detailed, but they include freshly taken photos and post more quickly. (And, if you're interested, you can also follow my main travel photography account at @havecamerawilltraveldc.)
Facebook. Follow the Cherry Blossom Watch Facebook page. This is a good way to know when new updates are posted on the website, but because of the way Facebook's newsfeed algorithm works, there's no guarantee that every update will show up in your feed.
Email Newsletter. To the right of the page (or bottom, if you're using a mobile device) you can find a signup form for the 2019 cherry blossom watch email newsletter. This is sent out as a digest of the latest updates every week or so when new updates have been posted. Please note that the email lists do not carry over year to year, so even if you signed up in 2018 you'll still need to sign up again for the 2019 list.
Browser Notifications. On desktop web browsers you can click on the red bell icon at the bottom right of the screen to sign up for push notifications. When new updates are posted you'll get a notification automatically right in your browser. Works in Chrome, Safari, and Firefox only, for now.
RSS. RSS feed
Cherry Blossom Visitor Guides
Planning on visiting DC to see the cherry blossoms? The uncertainty with predicting when the bloom will take place certainly makes things hard, but I've put together some information to help you make an educated guess to maximize your chances.
And if you're coming into town for the events of the cherry blossom festival or just for the flowers, I've also put together some ideas on where to stay and how to get to the cherry blossoms once you're here.
Washington DC Visitor Guides
If you're coming in from out of town, here are some useful travel guidebooks that can help you make the most of your visit. Because as stunning as the cherry blossoms are, there's an awful lot more to do and see in DC.
These are some of the most popular ones. Many of these are available as both traditional books and e-books that you can read on your phone or tablet.
- Elise Hartman Ford
- Publisher: FrommerMedia
- Fodor s Washington D C with Mount Vernon Alexandria Annapolis Full color Travel Guide
- Fodor's Travel Guides
- DK Travel
- Publisher: DK Eyewitness Travel
- Lonely Planet Washington DC
- Lonely Planet, Karla Zimmerman, Regis St Louis
And here are some interesting options for less traditional guidesbooks if you'd like an emphasis on exploring DC on foot or diving into some of the region's very rich history.