If you have springtime dreams of strolling our nation’s capital to take in the sight of breathtaking flowered cherry trees, you’d better get planning.
The noticeably mild winter we’ve had in the Chesapeake Bay region means that the predicted peak bloom dates for Washington, D.C.’s cherry trees are earlier than usual—March 22-25. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that the National Cherry Blossom Festival will now take place from March 18 to April 16, 2023.
“Peak bloom” is defined as the time when 70 percent of the Yoshino cherry blossoms are predicted to open. It’s a little different every year depending on the weather. This year, the National Park Service says the cherry trees never actually went into winter dormancy due to the warm, virtually snow-free winter we’ve had.
D.C. has been promoting the National Cherry Blossom festival for weeks, with a “Cherry Blossom Bus” traveling to New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore. The district expects to draw between a million and 1.5 million visitors.
“Spring is a beautiful and exciting time in .DC., and we love to welcome visitors to our city for the National Cherry Blossom Festival,” said Mayor Bowser. “And when people come for the Cherry Blossom Festival, we want them to stay and experience D.C.—our restaurants, our free museums, our theaters and sports, and our beautiful neighborhoods across all eight wards that are also filled with cherry blossoms.”
Plenty of businesses partake in the cherry blossom festivities. Hotels like the Kimpton Banneker, near Dupont Circle, are offering cherry blossom packages. Their “Cherry-Picked Blossom Experience” includes a discounted two-night stay, Capital Bikes passes and a $30 drink credit for their rooftop bar and lounge Lady Bird, for stays between March 13 and April 30.
The 3,000 cherry blossom trees along the Tidal Basin were given as a gift to Washington by the Mayor of Tokyo in 1912.
“The National Park Service is proud to be the stewards of the Japanese cherry trees, whose blossoms each year mark the return of spring to the nation’s capital,” said Jeff Reinbold, Superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks.
During the 2023 National Cherry Blossom Festival, the National Park Service will cohost a welcome area and stage located at West Basin Drive SW. There, visitorscan enjoy more than 150 free live performances and educational events showcasing American and Japanese culture.
Northern Virginia also gets in on the cherry blossom action. In Alexandria, you can take a Cherry Blossom Monuments cruise, private boat tours, or a water taxi to the National Mall.
-Meg Walburn Viviano