Spring is almost here, which means it’s time to get ahead on planning for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. This event draws thousands of visitors each year to see the beautiful pink and white cherry blossoms in full bloom around the Tidal Basin reservoir.
What is the Cherry Blossom Festival?
The National Cherry Blossom Festival, celebrated in Washington, DC., begins March 18, 2023, and lasts until mid-April. The Festival began as a celebration of the gift of 3,000 Japanese cherry trees from Tokyo City Mayor Yukio Ozaki in 1912. At the time, the friendship between the United States and Japan was blossoming, and the mayor gave the trees as a gift to encourage the newfound friendship. The trees were planted around the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC., and have since become a symbol of friendship between the two nations. The first festival was then organized in 1935 by civil leaders and the National Park Service to celebrate the beauty of the cherry blossoms. Today, the DC Cherry Blossom Festival has an Opening Ceremony and includes a variety of events, such as the Blossom Kite Festival, the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, and the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run. The festival also includes cultural performances, art exhibits, and other activities that showcase Japanese culture. You can purchase tickets for the Opening Ceremony and other events here.
Cherry Blossom Opening Ceremony
- The Cherry Blossom Opening Ceremony will include performances by Travis Japan, Anna Sato x Toshiyuki Sasaki, Mika Stoltzman, and Petael
Blossom Kite Festival
- The Kite Festival will feature performances by Wings Over Washington Kite Club and Mr. Mikio Toki, a master of traditional Edo-style kites, traveling in from Japan
National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
- The Parade will take place on Saturday, April 15th, and showcase balloons, floats, and marching bands from across the country. Plan your viewing spot early!
Cherry Blossom 10 Mile & 5K
- The 5K run will take place Saturday April 1, and the 10 mile will be Sunday, April 2nd. Virtual runs are also happening throughout the length of the festival. Sign up here: Cherry Blossom Races
If you live nearby, we recommend visiting the Festival on the earlier side, as the peak bloom of the cherry blossoms is predicted to be from March 15-29th, depending on who you ask. The National Park Service is predicting peak bloom to be between March 22-25th, 2023. As of March 710th (when we’re publishing this!), we’re in the extension of florets stage of the cherry blossom cycle.
Peak Parking at the Festival
However, finding parking in the area can be a challenge, so it’s important to plan ahead. One of the biggest road blocks of attending the Cherry Blossom Festival is finding a place to park. The festival attracts large crowds, and many visitors drive into the city, which can create traffic congestion and make finding a parking spot difficult. Additionally, some streets around the Tidal Basin may be closed or have restricted parking during the festival, which can make parking even more challenging.
One option for parking is to reserve a spot in advance at a parking garage or lot near the National Mall. Another option is to take public transportation. The Metro system in D.C. is extensive, cheap, and can take you within walking distance of the festival. You can also use the Capital Bikeshare system to rent a bike and explore the city on two wheels.
If you do decide to drive, be prepared for heavy traffic and limited parking options. The National Park Service advises visitors to arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid peak crowds and traffic. Additionally, some streets around the Tidal Basin may be closed or have restricted parking during the festival, so it’s important to check for any road closures or parking restrictions before you go.
That’s where ParkMobile comes in. The ParkMobile app allows you to find and reserve parking in advance, so you can avoid the stress of searching for a spot on the day of the festival. With ParkMobile, you can search for available parking spots near the Tidal Basin, reserve a spot, and pay for your parking all through the app.
Using ParkMobile during the Cherry Blossom Festival can provide a number of benefits. First and foremost, it can save you time and stress by allowing you to reserve parking in advance. Instead of circling the area looking for a spot, you can simply park in your reserved spot and enjoy the festival. Additionally, using ParkMobile can help you save money. Many parking facilities offer discounts for reserving parking in advance, so you can get a better rate than you would if you paid for parking on the day of the festival. Finally, using ParkMobile can help you avoid parking tickets. With the app’s remote extension and alert features, you can avoid overstaying your parking time and receiving a ticket.
Once you arrive at the Cherry Blossom Festival, there are plenty of activities to enjoy. You can take a leisurely stroll around the Tidal Basin, rent a paddleboat or take a guided tour to learn more about the history and significance of the cherry blossoms. There are also cultural performances, food vendors, and other activities that showcase Japanese culture and traditions.
Overall, the Cherry Blossom Festival is a wonderful celebration of spring and the beauty of nature.
The cherry blossoms have become a symbol of the friendship between Japan and the United States, and the festival is a celebration of that bond. Each year, thousands of visitors from around the world come to Washington, DC to experience the beauty of the cherry blossoms and to participate in the festivities. Plan your parking ahead of time, and spend more time circling the blossoms than the blocks.