2021 Cherry Blossom Festival: Everything you need to know

The 2021 National Cherry Blossom Festival is still on despite the pandemic, but like everything else in our lives, most of the festivities will be virtual.

Get the info you need below.

  • Q: What is the National Cherry Blossom Festival?
  • The National Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual tribute to the friendship between the U.S. and Japan.

    It celebrates the 1912 gift of trees from Tokyo to D.C.

    The National Park Service has much more on the history on its website.

  • Q: When is the festival?
  • The 2021 National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 20 to April 11.

    Peak bloom for the trees is predicted to be between April 2 and April 5, depending on weather conditions.

  • Q: What's the best way to see the blossoms?
  • Jeff Reinbold, National Park Service superintendent for the National Mall, said park service officials are calling on people to stay home and enjoy a peek of the cherry blossoms online through the park service’s BloomCam, and not to pack the Tidal Basin, given the restrictions on large gatherings.

    The official Bloom Watch page on the Cherry Blossom Festival website reads: “The National Park Service, working together with the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the Government of the District of Columbia, and in consultation with the most recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and local health guidelines, continue to evaluate what opportunities, if any, will be available to view the blossoms in person at the Tidal Basin. Continue to check this page for announcements in the coming weeks.”

  • Q: Will there be a parade?
  • Nope.

    Organizers announced last year that due to coronavirus concerns, the festival would go on without a parade.

    “The health and safety of our festival staff and the attendees, sponsors and other stakeholders remain the festival’s top priority,” said Diana Mayhew, the festival’s president and CEO.

  • Q: Will there be an opening ceremony?
  • Yes, but like just about everything else, it will be virtual.

    The opening ceremony is being held in conjunction with The Japan Foundation.

    It will be livestreamed on Saturday, March 20, at 6 p.m. and is co-hosted by Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi and ABC 7’s Michelle Marsh.

    The livestream is free, but you’ll need to register online.

  • Q: What are some of the virtual events?
  • The nonprofit National Cherry Blossom Festival is hosting a wide variety of virtual events.

    On Friday, March 26, there will be a Pink Tie Party online starting at 7 p.m. where participants can put on their “finest pink apparel and mingle with their pod and online partygoers from all over the world for an unforgettable evening of incredible entertainment, delectable food and drink, fun giveaways and a spirited online auction.”

    Tickets run from $100 to $135 and include three-course carryout dinners from your choice of D.C., Maryland and Virginia restaurants; a party kit filled with goodies, and a chance to win prizes.

    Then on Friday, April 9, from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. there will be a virtual Celebration Show. Gather by Events DC will host the show online. WJLA will broadcast the show on TV at 8 p.m. Friday and April 10 at noon. The show will also be syndicated nationally throughout April, May and June.

    See a complete list of all events online.

  • Q: Are there any in-person events?
  • Not really, but there are some more physically active ones.

    Starting March 20, organizers are encouraging people to check out “Art in Bloom” — a hunt to find 26 big sculptures painted by local artists and installed throughout D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

    The virtual Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile and 5K will be from March 20 to April 11. Runners and walkers are encouraged to plot a course through the cherry blossoms in their own communities. The event is $35.

    From March 20 to April 30, DowntownDC is hosting Chalk Walk in the Gallery Place Alley off 7th Street NW. The cherry blossom-inspired 3D art installation is free to attend.

    There’s the Blossom Kite Fly slated for March 27 and 28. But organizers aren’t suggesting people gather in groups: “Take to the skies and fly kites in your own backyard or neighborhood park! Don’t forget to share your experience on social media using the hashtags #BlossomKiteFly and #StepIntoSpring. Safely engage with your environment and show us how you soar!” Make sure to register.

    On April 10 and 11 is the Petal Porch Parade. The National Cherry Blossom Festival said it will produce a virtual map with the locations of all registered Petal Porches so people can plan a walk or drive to see and share in the celebration of spring. In addition, a “Petal Procession” will drive through select Petal Porch Parade neighborhoods in and around D.C.

    The National Cherry Blossom Festival has a complete list of all events online.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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