The first thing that comes to mind when one mentions “Cherry Blossom” is probably the image of young and old Japanese people, sitting under pink colored Cherry trees somewhere in Japan, drinking sake and dancing to “Spring” music. I’m not here to take away that image from you, but what if I told you that you don’t have to travel to Japan for this iconic flower viewing? Cue the drum roll please – the National Cherry Blossom Festival is held here in Washington D.C. every year. Save the cost of those plane tickets for a hotel room instead!
Ever been to Tidal Basin and wonder what those species of trees are that line the lake? (By the way, Tidal Basin is the lake/reservoir surrounded by the Jefferson Memorial et. al.) Surprise! They are all Sakuras – you would think they had grown more “patriotic” trees like Red Wood or Oak, but these Japanese Cherry were gifts from the Major of Tokyo city to thank the city of Washington (D.C.) almost 100 years ago for the friendship between the two. Cherry blossoms festival is that couple of days when these trees produce their iconic white and pink flowers. Since this is a natural phenomenon, it is rather unpredictable but falls somewhere between late March and early April. You can follow the blossom camera (a camera that points at Tidal basin) at http://www.earthcam.com/usa/dc/cherryblossoms/?cam=washdc and the official dates for the festivals (which includes a parade) and the cherry blossom on their official website. Plan your trips accordingly!
I did not participate in the parade so I can’t provide any comments on that. As for the best view of the cherry blossoms, go as early as possible, preferably during the weekday. Even though I went there late Saturday morning when it was crowded with tourists, the overall experience was still great; the area was huge, and everybody had a spot of their own to sit down and enjoy the petals. I saw people picnic at the park, but remember that alcohol is most likely prohibited and you won’t be able to enjoy your sake here.
When the trees are in bloom, the usual tidal basin is transformed into an unrecognizable pinkish white background. The statue of Martin Luther King Jr. surrounded by these colors makes him look even more peaceful and heroic. For veterans of the National Mall, this is going to be a unique twist to a well-known landscape. This is a free event; just head straight towards Jefferson Memorial or Martin Luther King Jr. memorial for this rare occurrence.
Cherry Blossoms can be found at the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C between late March and early April. Head towards either Jefferson memorial, F.D.R memorial or M.L.K. memorial if you are not familiar around the National Mall. Visit the official website at http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/ for details regarding the festival’s dates and on going events.
A similar post written by me can be found at http://www.travbuddy.com/Cherry-Blossoms-in-Washington-DC-v5596#293212
Edited by A. Budhipramono.