National Cherry Blossom Festival makes schedule changes amid coronavirus outbreak

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is making adjustments to its schedule in light of the coronavirus outbreak, organizers announced Wednesday.

The D.C. festival is scheduled for March 20 to April 12, but there are now several changes to the events:

  • March 20 — The “Pink Tie Party” is postponed. The festival is looking to reschedule, but the silent auction fundraiser will still take place online.
  • March 21 — The opening ceremony will not take place as planned at the Warner Theatre, and is looking to possibly livestream the event.
  • March 28 — The Blossom Kite Festival is canceled.
  • And the Tidal Basin Welcome Area is canceled.

“The health and safety of the performers, guests, volunteers and festival staff is our priority,” said festival President and CEO Diana Mayhew. “We have been working closely with the city government, WHO and CDC as well as our partners to determine the best course of action.”

Mayhew added that though the festival’s signature events will be impacted, “there are a number of events, exhibitions and performances that will still occur.”

Earlier Wednesday, the National Park Service announced that peak bloom for the cherry blossoms in D.C.’s Tidal Basin has moved forward after a week of unseasonably high temperatures.

Peak bloom is now predicted to start between March 21 and March 24. The previous dates for peak bloom were between March 27 and March 30.

On Monday, the cherry trees that circle the basin reached stage 3: extension of florets.

Because of the region’s very mild winter, the trees did not go into a deep stage of dormancy, according to a National Park Service spokesman.

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Teta Alim

Teta Alim is a Digital Editor at WTOP. Teta's interest in journalism started in music and moved to digital media.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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