WASHINGTON, DC -- Spring is here! The official season may have kicked off a few days ago, and Punxsutawney Phil may have declared it last Groundhog Day, but in DC it isn't official until we have the projected dates for peak cherry blossom bloom on the Tidal Basin.
This morning, Jeffery Reinbold, Superintendent for the National Park Service - National Mall and Memorial Parks, made the announcement at the National Cherry Blossom Festival press conference.
Peak bloom for this year is projected to be March 27th to the 30th, earlier than most years. Leaves are already appearing on the cherry trees, which means blossoms will start emerging soon.
"After analyzing a verity of data, including winter temperatures, and forecasts for March, our staff has come up with the projected peak dates, March 27 to 30th, during which the trees will first reach their peak bloom, so we define that as 70 percent of the Yoshino trees are in blossom," Reinbold said. "If the weather conditions are favorable, the trees can hold those blossoms for 10 days."
Those trees will draw crowds from all over the world to take in the spectacle.
"The staff at the National Mall and Memorial Parks takes great pride in the work we do to care for the stars of this festival, the 3,700 cherry trees, which are both a natural and cultural treasure or our city and our nation, rooted in history and tradition….a handful of which, date back to 1912."
In 1912, the Japanese gifted 3,020 cherry trees were gifted from Japan to the United States as a goodwill gesture. Today, the two trees planted by First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, in a ceremony on the Tidal Basin in 1912 still stand.
Surrounding the celebration of the peak bloom, the National Cherry Blossom Festival hosts over 100 events for locals and visitors alike.
“We are proud to once again unite the city, the region, as we celebrate one of the world’s greatest celebrations of spring, here in Washington, DC," Diana Mayhew, President, National Cherry Blossom Festival said. "The National Cherry Blossom festival is much anticipated tradition and legacy that brings joy and a sense of renewal, energy and just amazing engaging fun experiences for the residents and the visitors."
Muriel Bowser, the Mayor for the District of Columbia, kicked off the celebration.
"This festival of course celebrates friendship between two nations, it celebrates beautiful trees, not just at the Tidal Basin, but throughout Washington DC, and every year we look forward to the start of spring, not just because we’re eager to get away from frigid days and nights, but because the Cherry Blossom Festival is such an honored tradition here," Bowser said.
She also addressed the concern facing many metropolitan areas in the face of the coronavirus threats.
"We are closely monitoring, I want everybody to know, the potential impacts of the coronavirus in D.C. D.C. at this stage has no confirmed cases. We are open for business and we expect to welcome thousands of people to our city over the next few weeks," Bowser said. "As a world class city, we have world class preparedness as well so we will continue to work on prevention, preparedness, and response if necessary."
The festival is going on as planned, with over 40 organizations teaming up to support hundreds of events around the city.
National Cherry Blossom Festival 2020 signature events include:
- Friday, March 20: Pink Tie Party fundraiser presented by ANA at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (early-bird tickets available now)
- Saturday, March 21: Opening Ceremony at the Warner Theatre
- Saturday, March 28: Blossom Kite Festival presented by Otsuka on the Washington Monument grounds
- Saturday, April 4: National Cherry Blossom Festival Paradeâpresented by Events DC (grandstand tickets on sale now)
- Saturday, April 13: Petalpalooza at Capitol Riverfront presented by CHASE
- Dates TBD: Tidal Basin Welcome Area and ANA Performance Stage
2020 Premier Events include:
- Saturday, March 21: SAAM Cherry Blossom Celebration produced by Smithsonian American Art Museum
- Saturday, April 4: Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival, produced by the Japan-America Society of Washington DC
- Sunday, April 5: Anacostia River Festival produced by the 11thStreet Bridge Park
For a complete list of events visit the National Cherry Blossom Festival Website.