It’s getting to be my absolute favorite time of year in DC: The Cherry Blossom Festival! Each Spring, Washington, DC goes all out to celebrate this occasion with tons of events, parties, concerts, and more throughout the city. My favorite Pop Up Bar always has a fun theme, there are free concerts along the Wharf, a massive parade downtown, and lots of fun galas hosted at museums and event spaces!
This year’s festival runs from March 20 through April 14, with the downtown Cherry Blossom Parade on Saturday, April 13, 2019.
While it’s fun to plan for all these seasonal events, it can actually be quite hard to time “peak bloom” (when the blossoms are at their fullest). The past few years have had late frosts, which pushes the trees from blooming back to late April. Luckily, there are websites devoted to tracking peak bloom such as DC’s Cherry Blossom Watch. Peak bloom this year is scheduled for the first week of April! The blooms are fleeting, so it’s best to stay on track and go in the middle of the bloom so you don’t miss them.
Here’s a rundown of events I’m looking forward to this year:
- Opening Ceremony at the Warner Theater – March 23
- Pink Tie Party – March 22
- Blossom Kite Festival on the Mall – March 30
- Pop Up Bar – Cherry Blossom PUB runs from February 28 – April 21 and this year they even have the option to eat ramen accompanying their delicious drinks! They also just opened “Publin” – the Saint Patrick’s Day bar in the other half of their PUB space, so be sure to swing by for even MORE themed drinks!
- Artechouse: In Peak Bloom exhibit – March 20 – May 27
- Tastes of Spring Cherry Blossom Food Crawl – March 30
- Petalpalooza on the District Wharf – April 6
- Freer Sackler Celebration – April 6
- Newseum Nights in Bloom Gala – April 12
- National Cherry Blossom Parade – April 13, 2019
- All other events can be found HERE.
Best places to catch peak bloom:
- Tidal Basin – monuments and iconic scenery – what more could you ask for? (Tip: it can get crowded quickly, so best to go early in the morning or on a gray/colder day)
- The National Arboretum has trees spread out around the grounds – the perfect excuse to go for a walk/run and enjoy the season!
- Dumbarton Oaks – located in Georgetown, this “cherry hill” is best for uncrowded shots and a leisurely stroll through the museum and gardens. Also, you have great brunch/lunch/dinner options nearby!
- Check out this full list of Cherry Blossom photo spots for even more locations!
- If the weather is bad that week or you can’t make it to DC this year, you can browse the Smithsonian’s cherry blossom related collections here!
Restaurants featuring special themed dishes:
- Milk Bar – limited edition Cherry Rose Cookie.
- Baked and Wired – Cherry Blossom Cupcakes coming soon!
- The Oval Room – the savory appetizer special is a Cherry Blossom Cured Hamachi with Sakura shoyu and pollen gentle, for dessert, a Cherry Blossom Ice Cream Cake with laurel, cherries and rooibos tea, and a refreshing springtime specialty cocktail: the Spring Snow.
- Ambar is creating a specialty cocktail consisting of cherry-infused rakia, lime juice, simply syrup infused with cherries, and a spritz of absinth, garnished with a cherry.
- List of Cherry Picks Restaurants
- A few more restaurants with special dishes and cocktails for the season.
I also just stumbled across this curated Smithsonian Cherry Blossom playlist to prepare for the season. It certainly gets me excited for the upcoming festivities!
I hope this guide helps with planning for your best cherry blossom experience this year – whether you’re a DC local or visiting from out of town! If you need additional information, this Washington DC article provides further research into where to stay and special seasonal deals. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions as well!