Cherry Blossoms reach ‘puffy white’ phase on verge of peak bloom

In just 24 hours, the cherry blossoms around the National Mall and Tidal Basin have moved from Stage 4, to Stage 5. That means peak bloom is just around the corner.

They are in the “puffy white” phase as of Saturday, according to the National Park Service.

The white blossoms poked their heads out on Saturday morning — and with three out of the next four days likely to be warm and humid, do not be surprised to see the blossoms make themselves known.

It’s quite a change from one week ago, when snow flurries, high winds and temperatures below freezing kept District residents hunkered down inside.

Peak bloom should hit early next week, so be on the lookout for lots of pedestrians and drivers slowing down to check out the scene.

The Cherry Blossom Festival’s first events are Saturday, and West Basin Drive is closed for setup. The Opening Ceremony is Sunday at the Warner Theatre.

The festival runs through April 17, and is returning to in-person events after being mostly virtual the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2022 festival marks the 110th anniversary of the gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees from Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki to D.C.

During a news conference announcing this year’s events, Ryo Kuroishi, of the Embassy of Japan said: “We can now see those cherry blossoms have become a lasting symbol of our special friendship that has grown between Japan and the United States.”

The embassy’s Japan Information and Culture Center will be among the venues hosting festival-related exhibitions throughout the city. Other events include:

  • The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on Constitution Avenue, featuring floats and entertainment by Taylor Dane, Freddie Jackson, Tag Team and others (April 9);
  • The Blossom Kite Festival on the Washington Monument grounds (March 26);
  • Petal Porches, where various neighborhoods in D.C., Maryland and Virginia decorate their porches in pink;
  • Art in Bloom, showcasing communitywide installations of oversize cherry blossom statues painted by local and international artists;
  • Petalpalooza at the Capitol Riverfront, with live music on three outdoor stages, interactive art installations, activities, a beer and wine garden, roving performers and a fireworks show (April 16).

Peak bloom lasts for just under a week, barring any serious windstorms or cold snaps. The most significant storms forecast over the next few days may be Saturday afternoon, while the blossoms are still in Stage 5.

As for seeing the trees up close, the best viewing times are typically four to seven days after peak bloom starts. And you don’t need to converge on the Tidal Basin to admire them. Clusters of trees can be found along the National Mall, as well as the National Arboretum, Anacostia Park, Dumbarton Oaks, Stanton Park and Oxon Run Park.

WTOP’s Anna Gawel and Will Vitka contributed to this report.

Dan Friedell

Dan Friedell is a digital writer for WTOP. He came to the D.C. area in 2007 to work as digital editor for USATODAY.com, and since then has worked for a number of local and national news organizations.

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