National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC

Yes, amidst all the lying, backstabbing, under-the-table wheeling and dealing, and other trademark dirty tricks we routinely see coming out of Washington, DC, there is beauty to be seen there as well – in the form of the National Cherry Blossom Festival:

The blooms of the 3,750 cherry trees that frame the Tidal Basin are expected to bring 1 million visitors to the District during the 16-day National Cherry Blossom Festival, the District’s signature tourist event which begins today, National Park Service officials say.

“In other parts of the country, people look for robins and other signs of spring, but here in the Washington, D.C. area, it’s when we see these cherry blossoms” Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said, standing near the Tidal Basin yesterday morning.

The festival’s executive director, Diana Mayhew, said to better handle the crowds, there’s now interest in spreading out the time people visit the blossoms and in encouraging people to explore beyond the Tidal Basin.

Ms. Mayhew said closing a 180-spot parking lot near the Tidal Basin will create a better experience for visitors and D.C. residents than in years past when the area was bottlenecked. The lot will hold a welcome tent, a first-aid station and vendors selling Japanese-inspired food.

To redirect crowds and cars, a free bus service will shuttle visitors from a nearby parking lot at Hains Point at East Potomac Park to the Tidal Basin every 20-30 minutes from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. A free bicycle valet service will also aid in traffic congestion.


At the National Arboretum in Northeast, visitors can walk and drive around the 466 acres, following pink signs to see over 2,000 ornamental cherry trees on a self-guided tour. While the Tidal Basin area is home to mostly Yoshino cherry trees, the Arboretum holds more than 50 types of flowering cherry trees.

If you live in the DC area, here’s the Cherry Blossom Festival website, which has a list of events that will take place during the official 16 day festival.

Here’s a photo taken this weekend:

DC Cherry Blossoms 2008
Photo courtesy: AP/Ron Edmonds

More here.

Starting on April the 9th, Wilmington, NC will be holding its 61st annual Azalea festival. It’s a thing of beauty, so if you’re going to be in the area at anytime between the 9th and 13th, be sure to check it out. Maybe you’ll even get to meet an Azalea Belle ;;)

Azalea Belles 2005
Seven of the one hundred 2005 Azalea Belles.

See more photos of the Azalea Festival garden tours here.

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