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Get all the details on the 2018 Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., including the best events.

Elizabeth Preske
January 20, 2018

Every spring, more than 1.5 million people head to Washington, D.C. to see the city's 3,000 cherry trees — a 1912 gift from Tokyo to the District — in full bloom.

Over the years, the cherry blossoms have become a point of national pride. They're at the heart of an annual festival that both welcomes the beginning of spring and commemorates the United States' lasting friendship with Japan. Since it began in 1935, the National Cherry Blossom Festival has grown from a modest affair to a three-week extravaganza, earning its self-declared reputation as the nation’s greatest springtime celebration.

With these beautiful pink blooms drifting around the nation's most famous memorials and monuments, it isn't difficult to imagine what makes this festival so special. For travelers interested in seeing the spectacle for themselves, this is everything you need to know about the Cherry Blossom Festival in 2018. 

When and Where Is the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.?

The official Cherry Blossom Festival dates for 2018 are March 20 to April 15, with the annual fundraising Pink Tie Party held on March 15.

Signature events will take place at various times around the city, but the festival's main hub is in the Tidal Basin. Next to the Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and FDR memorials, this iconic reservoir promises picture-perfect views of D.C.'s favorite flower. From March 24 until April 8, you can enjoy performances, food, and souvenirs at this go-to spot.

To optimize your chances of seeing the cherry blossoms in peak bloom, follow the Cherry Blossom forecast for the most up-to-date information.

Tips On Where to Park for the Cherry Blossom Festival

You may luck out and find street parking at the National Mall and L'Enfant Plaza, but free parking spots can also be found near the golf course at East Potomac Park and at Hains Point. There is also three-hour metered parking on Ohio Drive SW and lots A, B, and C near 14th Street Bridge.

As parking will be competitive, however, festival organizers recommend reserving a parking space on the National Cherry Blossom Festival SpotHero Parking page ahead of your trip.

How to Get to the Cherry Blossom Festival by Public Transportation

There are a several options for those who prefer to take public transportation to the festival. You can take the Metrorail to nearby Smithsonian Station or L’Enfant Plaza Station during non-rush hours. A one-dollar shuttle bus at Union Station will also get you to the Tidal Basin, as well as the museums and memorials near the National Mall. Visit the D.C. Circulator website for full details on the route.

For those staying in Georgetown, a water taxi will be jetting festival-goers to and from the Tidal Basin for $20 per ticket. If you choose this option, you will need to purchase your tickets in advance on the D.C. Water Taxi website.

2018 Cherry Blossom Festival Events

These are the events we are most excited about — but you can see the full list on the festival website.

Opening Ceremony

The Opening Ceremony kicks off the festival by honoring its origins: Japan's gift of cherry trees to the United States. The show features traditional and contemporary productions by Japanese and American performers.

When: March 24, 2018; from 5:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.
Where: Warner Theatre, 513 13th Street NW

Petalpalooza

This day-long event includes interactive art installations, games, and live music at the Wharf. Weather permitting, there will be a Cherry Blossom Festival fireworks show to round out the day's festivities.

When: April 7, 2018; from 1:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. (The fireworks show will commence at 8:30 p.m.)
Where: The Wharf – 1100 Maine Ave SW

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade

As 'one of D.C.'s largest spectator events,' the annual parade brings celebrity entertainers, performers, and marching bands from around the nation — along with giant balloons and extravagant floats — to conclude the Cherry Blossom Festival in style.

When: April 14, 2018; from 10:00 a.m. until noon.
Where: Constitution Avenue – From 7th to 17th streets, NW

Cherry Blossom Festival Tickets

It's free to attend the festival, but certain events do require a ticket.

Opening Ceremony

Starting January 25, you can reserve online your place at the 2018 Opening Ceremony. The only price you have to pay is the $5 registration fee when you claim your ticket.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade

The Parade is free for spectators standing along the Parade route, but tickets for Grandstand seating start at $20. If you are in a group of 10 or more, you can fill out a bulk ticket order form.

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