The 200 Okame cherry trees at the National Harbor in Maryland, just outside of D.C., are already blooming, and if you want a preview of what’s to come in the 2020 National Cherry Blossom Festival, the Harbor is offering a number of cherry-themed activities in the coming weeks.
The trees have only been growing at National Harbor for three years, and they are different from the Yoshino trees that predominantly dot the National Mall in D.C.
Those trees are only at the green bud stage of bloom as of Friday, the National Park Service said.
The two-month-long event at National Harbor starts this weekend. The pink-themed cherry blossom celebration kicks off on March 1 and runs through April.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. is scheduled to run from March 20 to April 12.
Visitors who walk across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge or drive into the National Harbor neighborhood will be greeted by pink-hued pathways. The Capital Wheel will be lit pink, as will the Harbor’s streets.
One of the Harbor’s events — Sakura Sunday on April 5 — is an official participating event of the 2020 National Cherry Blossom Festival.
“We’ll have a Japanese market where you can buy Japanese food, live music, and a wide range of Japanese cultural items will be on display,” said Deborah Topcik, National Harbor’s Director of Marketing.
In addition, many of the shops and restaurants in the neighborhood are participating in Japanese- and cherry blossom-themed activities.
Some of the other events will include origami and papermaking classes, and some of the bars and restaurants will offer mixology classes for those interested in learning how to make cherry blossom-themed drinks.
There also will be a water lantern festival, Topcik said. Those who want to participate can write their wishes on a lantern and launch it into the Potomac River.
Eventually the lanterns will be collected and disposed of responsibly after they float in the harbor for a time.
The harbor provides a good starting point for those looking to find an alternative way to view the famous cherry trees along the Potomac, closer to the Tidal Basin. The water taxi periodically departs from National Harbor.