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Cherry Blossom Peak Bloom Date Announced

March 2, 2021 by TWN Staff
Cherry blossoms on the Washington Tidal Basin. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – It’s hard to believe it’s almost that time of year again, but on Monday came word that the peak bloom for the cherry blossoms ringing the Tidal Basin in Washington is currently expected to occur April 2-5. 

That means the most vivid of blooms this year will also likely coincide with Easter Sunday. 

However, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival is once again planned to be a largely virtual event with a series of “hybrid” festivities scheduled in the face of continued restrictions on large gatherings. 

National Park Service officials are calling on people to stay home and enjoy a peek of the cherry blossoms online through the park service Bloom Cam or the festival’s own Bloom Watch page, rather than converge at the Tidal Basin where social distancing can’t be guaranteed. 

Last year, D.C. police and the National Guard were dispatched to the Tidal Basin to limit large crowds of people who showed up to walk among the blooming cherry trees after just over a month of complying with stay-at-home and other COVID-related orders. 

The phrase most often heard among officials now is “We don’t want to have a repeat of last year.” 

 The park service is still evaluating whether it will allow a limited number of visitors to the area, based on the time or day, or whether the best and easiest thing to do this year is simply close down the entire area. 

Officials said a determination will be made on which course to pursue in the next few weeks. 

Like last year, the annual cherry blossom parade and other high profile festival events have been cancelled, but the festival itself will go on. This year it runs from March 20 through April 11. 

This year’s “hybrid” virtual events include: 

The Opening Ceremony 

On March 20, spectators will be able to watch the ceremonial start to the festival as performers from Japan and D.C. bring a celebration of the season to their living rooms. The ceremony is being co-presented by the festival and The Japan Foundation. 

 Art in Bloom 

Beginning March 20, D.C. resident and visitors are encouraged to go on the hunt for 25 giant cherry blossom sculptures flourishing throughout the D.C. area. Featuring the artwork of local and national artists, engage with the icons for a chance to win prizes. Art in Bloom is presented by Amazon. 

Blossom Kite Fly 

The public is also being encouraged to broaden its kite-making skills or deepen general kite knowledge with virtual workshops and demos beginning on March 15. Then, they’ll be asked to take to the skies from their own backyard March 27 and 28 and “contribute your kite-flying merriment to our online community!” Blossom Kite Fly is sponsored by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. 

Petal Porch Parade 

D.C. residents and businesses are also being asked to decorate their porch, yard or window in the theme of cherry blossoms, pink or springtime. Those that register with the festival by March 15 will be included in the route of the inaugural Petal Procession cruise through area neighborhoods on April 10 and 11. 

 Petal Porch Parade Touring 

From March 20 – April 11, residents and visitors will be able to explore the creativity and cherry blossom spirit of their district neighbors. A virtual map with the locations of all registered Petal Porches will be created, so people and families can plan a walk or drive around the area to see and share in the celebration of spring.  

Peak bloom is defined by the park service as the dates when at least 70% of the National Mall’s Yoshino cherry blossoms are open. Once peak bloom is reached, the trees typically stay in bloom for the next seven to 10 days. 

The peak bloom projection is based on a variety of weather conditions and could be moved up or delayed. 

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