That most beloved time of year has come and gone here in Washington, DC. The time when allergies go haywire and there are seemingly more tourists than residents crowding the downtown metro stops.
That’s right, I’m talking about the Cherry Blossom Festival.
In 1912, 3,000 Yoshino cherry blossom trees were given to the United States by Japan as a symbol of lasting friendship and peace. Most of the original trees were planted around the Tidal Basin, a small man-made reservoir located just off of the National Mall. Today we celebrate that kind donation every year with the Cherry Blossom Festival — a month long event that includes the infamous Cherry Blossom Parade.
According to the National Park Service website, over 1.5 million people come to Washington, DC to see the beautiful blossoms and enjoy the festival — a number I can claim first handedly as accurate, having witnessed the mass chaos of tourists at the metro stops along the Mall.
However, there’s something that you need to know.
We’re a bit sneaky here in Washington, and though the festival lasts a few weeks, the cherry blossoms themselves only last maybe 4-5 days. Teehee.
It’s very difficult to predict the precise time of peak bloom. Last year it was the 19th of March, while this year it was the 10th of April. However, if you’re fortunate enough to be in the city during those 4-5 days, I assure you that you’ll not be disappointed.
The blossoms are beautiful.
I have always been the type of person who is quick to say when something is overrated, and considering the massive crowds and jacked up prices that plague festival time, it is very tempting to label the cherry blossoms as such. Most local DC residents never even make the effort to go down to the Mall to see them.
However, I must admit that seeing the thousands of blossoms in full bloom around the tidal basin is well worth everything. The trees are breathtaking.
I’m less keen on recommending any of the events that accompany the festival. I hate big crowds, cheesy cherry blossom shirts, and parades — and fun, as I’ve been told. But taking an afternoon to walk around the tidal basin and perhaps have a picnic under one of the trees is something I can fully recommend — just be sure to realize how difficult it is to actually catch them in full bloom.