The National Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual tradition in Washington, D.C. that celebrates the coming of spring by showcasing the 3,000 cherry trees given to our nation’s capital as a gift of friendship from the people of Japan in 1912. 

This multi-week festival takes place around the city and includes international cultural acts as well as various special activities such as art exhibits and gastronomic gatherings. Cherry blossom trees herald the advent of spring by filling the Tidal Basin with brilliant pink and white blossoms. 

So whether you’re a local or from out of town, here are 6 things you can do to get the most out of the National Cherry Blossom Festival:

1. Visit the Tidal Basin’s Cherry Trees

Featured Image: Tidal Basin’s Cherry Trees. Photo: Peakpx.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival attracts visitors primarily to see the cherry trees that line the Tidal Basin. Seeing the stunning views of the trees set against the city’s most prominent monuments is a must-do experience. Before you visit, brush up on your photography abilities so you can share a few high-quality photographs on your social media page. 

Early morning is the finest time to walk the Basin without people (this time of day also provides the best light for photos). Additionally, as the day progresses, the East side of the Tidal Basin (between the National Mall and the Jefferson Memorial) becomes more congested.

2. Picnic in the park

Featured Image: Group of Friends Having a Picnic. Photo: iStockphoto.

One of the best things about springtime is spending lazy afternoons outdoors with good food and great company. Pack up a picnic lunch and find a spot in one of the many parks around D.C. that are bursting with springtime color.

3. Stroll along Independence Avenue

Featured Image: Cherry Blossoms in Independence Avenue. Photo: Better Homes and Gardens.

Take a stroll along Independence Avenue, along the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial, or take a free tour with a guide who will narrate the history of how the trees came to Washington, DC. Rent paddleboats at the Tidal Basin to enjoy the view from the water. There are also cruises on the Potomac River that provide breathtaking views of the monuments and cherry trees. 

Bike and Roll’s two-hour Blossoms By Bike trip, the festival’s official bike tour, will take you on a comprehensive tour of the blossoms. Peak bloom is usually in early April, however, the exact date depends on the weather and varies year to year.

4. Watch the Opening Ceremony & Cultural Events

Featured Image: People At a Parade. Photo: HG TV.

There are hundreds of worldwide cultural shows are available to choose from. The Opening Ceremony features a star-studded display of music and dance; the Sylvan Stage on the National Mall hosts daily acts of theatre, dance, and martial arts; and the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival is a highlight. 

The largest Japanese cultural celebration in the United States, this renowned festival-within-a-festival involves food, music, martial arts displays, and more.

5. Try the famous cherry-infused cuisine

Featured Image: Chefs in the Kitchen. Photo: Northern Virginia Mag.

Visitors will be able to enjoy dishes commemorating the National Cherry Blossom Celebration during the festival. Restaurants provide cherry-infused cocktails, appetizers, and main dishes, with flowers adorning plates and glasses. 

The festival’s multi-course dinners pay homage to America’s relationship with Japan. On one of Carpe DC Food Tours’ Tastes of Spring, Cherry Blossom Food Crawls across Washington, DC, or Alexandria, Virginia, sample various blossom-inspired delicacies.

6. Attend the Kite Festival

Featured Image: People Flying Kites. Photo: DC Refined.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival has activities for kids of all ages, from a photo safari to unique museum displays. 

The Blossom Kite Festival, which takes place in late March and features inventive kite makers and competitions where fliers show off their sky-high tricks, is one of the most popular activities for youngsters.

No matter what you choose to do during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, make sure to take in the natural beauty of the cherry blossoms and the cityscape while you’re in Washington, D.C.

The festival is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about other cultures, sample some great food, and enjoy time with friends and family. With so much to do and see, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is a can’t-miss event.