We’re about to hit one of the best times of the year in DC: Cherry Blossom Season! Not only is the city at its prettiest when the famous flowers are in bloom, there are also loads of special events and activities to celebrate it. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, running March 18 – April 16 this year, presents all kinds of fun and enriching opportunities over several weeks, plus there are some blossom-inspired happenings that aren’t part of the official festivities. Here are the best of them for families to help plan for a peak experience. Happy Blossom Season!
Cherry Blossom Viewing
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Late March
Viewing the cherry blossoms may just be the top thing to do during the season — and lots of people agree. The scenery really can’t get more iconic DC than the flowering trees around the Tidal Basin at their peak pink and white brilliance with our grand memorials in the background. However, viewing the famous blooms can be a bit challenging without being aware of a few things, so be sure to check out these KFDC tips before you go to see them. And view scenes from blooms past here, here and here.
PIXELBLOOM: Timeless Butterflies
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: Through June 5
Admission: $20-25/adult, $17/age 4-15, $72/family of 4
The exhibits at ARTECHOUSE often reflect the season in some way, and for the sixth year, they are highlighting spring by celebrating the cherry blossoms with a gorgeous digital exhibit that immerses you in blooms and butterflies. Floor to ceiling projections, plus interactive elements make this one beautiful, engaging, and delightful to experience! Get more of a glimpse of it here.
Help a Wishing Tree Grow
Where: Planet Word | Downtown DC
When: March 20 – April 16
Admission: Free, but passes required
During the cherry blossom season, Planet Word invites guests to help build a Wishing Tree. They can select a poem from a collection of poetry, write it on a slip of paper, and place it inside an origami paper petal ‘pocket’ that is adhered to the branches of the museum’s cherry blossom tree. At the end of the festival, the petals will be passed on to visitors in the museum as a symbol of friendship. Note that (free) passes are required for admission to the museum. Read more about Planet Word in this KFDC post.
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Through April 16
This newer tradition invites residents in DC and surrounding communities in MD and VA to decorate their front yards, porches, and windows to show their cherry blossom spirit during the Festival’s run. A digital map with the locations of all registered Petal Porches will be made available, so we can all get in on the fun and do some Petal Porch viewing!
Art in Bloom
Where: Around DC
When: Through April 16
View blossom inspired art all around the city! The Giant Cherry Blossom sculptures scattered in all eight wards last year will be back in permanent locations. Find a map of them here and make it a mission to see all of them during the season!
Cherry Blossom Programming for Children
Where: National Children’s Museum | Downtown DC
When: Select dates in March (see below)
This spring, curiosity is in full bloom at National Children’s Museum. In celebration of the season and peak bloom, families can join the museum for the some STEAM programs inspired by the natural world. March 23 & 30: Blossom-themed STEAM Story Times. March 24: Baby Jam. March 26: Helicopter seeds launcher design and build challenge using recycled materials to learn about the aerodynamics of seed dispersal under the Museum’s main entrance awnings (free) + Haiku exploration and experimentation pop-up (included in Museum admission). Read more about the museum in this KFDC post.
Where: Tidal Basin Welcome Area
When: Select dates during peak bloom
Catch live entertainment as you take in views of the blossoms! During the cherry blossom peak, there will be music and dance performances on a special stage set up at the Tidal Basin Welcome Area at a new location on West Basin Drive SW (between the Martin Luther King, Jr., and Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorials and near the Japanese Pagoda). The National Park Service will offer Ranger talks, Bloomin’ Junior Ranger activities, and more. The daily live performances on the ANA stage presented by All Nippon Airways will take place 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. and showcase a cross-cultural mix of American, Japanese and other performing arts celebrating 110 years since the gift of trees from Tokyo to Washington, DC. A full list of performers and performance schedules can be viewed here.
Cherry Blossom Family Celebration
Where: American Art Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: March 25, 11:30am – 3pm
Join SAAM for their annual celebration of spring and the blooming trees of DC. Enjoy taiko drumming and traditional Japanese dance performances, and break out your best Japanese pop dance moves with Les the DJ. Craft your own cherry blossom trees to take home, make a kinobori kite to fly at the kite festival, or try your hand at an origami Sakura. And ascavenger hunt will add some extra fun to explore the galleries with a scavenger hunt and enjoy festive. Register in advance. See more about the museum in this KFDC post. Read more about the museum in this KFDC post.
Wizards Cherry Blossom Night
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: March 24, 7pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary
Whoop it up at a special cherry blossom-themed basketball game! See the Wizards take on the Spurs as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Purchase tickets through this link to get a cherry blossom bucket hat.
Go with the Flow
Where: Local waterways
When: Starting mid-March
Admission: Rates vary
Get a new perspective of the blossoms and enjoy some outdoor recreation on a paddling excursion. Several boathouses will open during cherry blossom season, offering canoe, kayak, and other rentals to take you out on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers and Tidal Basin, where you can see the blooming cherry trees from the water. This KFDC post has more information on where to go with the flow around DC.
Blossom Kite Festival
Where: Washington Monument Grounds | National Mall, DC
When: March 26, 10am – 4:30pm
The annual Blossom Kite Festival, a favorite for many during the blossom season, will be back! And the sight of thousands of kites in all colors, shapes, and sizes soaring around the Washington Monument truly is a sight to behold. The sails you see flying at the Festival each spring range from simple to pretty darn creative. Dragons, sharks, butterflies, giant soccer balls, even some that look like big, beautiful origami works way outnumber your basic diamond. And anyone can go fly their kites, so plan to BYO. There’s a competition aspect to the event, too; expert kite enthusiasts will wow crowds with cool stunts, and prizes will be awarded to winners of various categories such as most beautiful, funniest, and aerodynamics. Note the date change from March 25 to March 26!
Where: National Gallery of Art | NationalMall, DC
When: April 1
The NGA’s monthly series has a cherry blossom theme this time. In this installment, join the museum for kid’s films, create a floral collage, and make a custom-designed cherry blossom screenprint with local printmakers Soul and Ink. Then, enjoy pop-up musical performances and venture over to the Sculpture Garden for a tour of outdoor art installations.
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: April 1, 2-9pm
Join The Wharf for Bloomaroo, a free spring extravaganza featuring a full day of cherry-blossom themed art, music, fireworks, and family-friendly fun along the waterfront! Enjoy beer gardens on District pier, s’mores at the firepit, and live music. It’ll all be capped it all off with a blossom fireworks finale.
Pink in the Pool
Where: Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness | Arlington, VA
When: April 1, 9am – 12pm
Celebrate cherry blossom season at National Landing with morning activities for families. Starting with Pink in the Pool, jump into a splash of pink at the Long Bridge Park Aquatics and Fitness Center. Families are invited to take a free swim and toss around pink beach balls. After a dip in the pool, continue the fun with kite and origami making, face painting, giveaways, sweet treats from Kona Ice, and tons of pink. Free pool passes are required — reserve them here.
Into the Woods
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park | Centreville, VA
When: April 2 | 1pm, 1:30pm, & 2pm
Celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival with this free event at Frying Pan Farm Park. Trek on their nature trail to experience the changes of spring. Along the way, visit stations that are peppered throughout the trail to build a fairy house, discuss woodland creatures, and search for critters in the soil and water. Plan to enjoy Japanese teas at the historic Frying Pan Meeting House, too! Recommended for ages 5+.
Art Blooms at Mosaic
Where: Mosaic District | McLean, VA
When: April 1-2, 11am – 5pm
Welcome spring at the Mosaic District with a celebratory weekend featuring fun for all ages. Shop at the market, catch live entertainment and art exhibits, do some kids activities, sip on a cocktail while you stroll, and more!
Japanese Culture Day
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: April 1, 10am – 3pm
The Library of Congress is hosting a day of fun especially for kids to celebrate cherry blossom season. All ages can learn about Japanese culture through reading, writing, and craft-making with Japanese cultural and linguistic professionals. Books related to Japan and Japanese culture will also be on display.Other activities include Kamishibai (Japanese storytelling), hands-on origami lessons, Japanese calligraphy, decorative Koinobori and Japanese woodblock print coloring, tiara making with cherry blossom princesses, Kimono trial, and more. Register here! And read more about the Library of Congress in his KFDC post.
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Run, MD
When: April 2, 12-6pm
Join National Harbor for their annual Sakura Sunday Festival. The celebration will feature cultural activities, including a Japanese market, art, music and dance performances, culinary delights, and much more! Read more about all there is to do at National Harbor here.
Where: The Yards | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: April 8, 1-9pm
Join the Capitol Riverfront community for Petalpalooza! This day-long signature event of the National Cherry Blossom Festival will be a blast, with live music, art installations, a beer garden, and lots of family-friendly activities. Go for awhile or just stop by for a bit. The evening will cap off with a fireworks show over the Anacostia River.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th St NW | Downtown DC
When: April 15, 10am – 12pm
The pinnacle of cherry blossom festivities just might be the parade. Thousands of people line Constitution Avenue to watch the procession of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and a variety of performers roll through the city. Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $25-40, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free. Plan to arrive early to get a good view — the crowds come out for this one, especially if it’s a pretty spring day.
Where: Pennsylvania Ave, 3rd-7th St NW | Downtown DC
When: April 15-16, 10:30am – 6pm
Admission: $10-15/ages 13+, $50/family package, free/12 & under
Following the Cherry Blossom parade, head over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest exhibition of Japanese culture. The 61st annual event will feature live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. And once again, it will be held over two days! PS: Note that the family package for $50 includes 2 one-day entry tickets (kids 12 & under are free), 2 kids T-shirts , 2 Omen masks for kids, and 2 Japanese Snacks .
Which events are you looking forward to this cherry blossom season?