Washington’s cherry blossoms attract thousands of visitors (but not in 2021) to the city. But visitors BEWARE the National Cherry Blossom Festival does not necessarily coincide with cherry blossoms blooming! Make no mistake, the Festival is a blast — a parade, fireworks, entertainment, food, and a chance to see the city at its best. But while the city sets the time for the festival, only nature determines when the cherry blossoms bloom.
The Yoshino Cherry (Prunus x yedoensis) trees in Washington usually bloom between the last week of March and the first week of April. But extreme temperature in either direction can push the peak bloom date earlier or later. A late severe frost can stop any blooming.
Like life itself, the blossoms are fleeting. They usually only last less than a week. Blooms stay longer if the weather is cool but can disappear immediately if there is wind or heavy rain.
It is nearly impossible to predict the peak blossoming time more than ten days in advance. The best way for visitors to know what to expect is to monitor the National Park Service bloom watch site for the best, science-based information.
Regrettably, this is not the year to see the cherry trees in person. NPS and the city will limit access to the Tidal Basin in efforts to prevent covid spread.