#GWToDo: 2024 National Cherry Blossom Festival

From kite festival to parade, GW Today presents a short guide to the iconic annual celebration.

March 20, 2024

Cherry blossoms over the Washington Monument

(Harrison Jones/GW Today)

Like pink and white fireworks, flowering trees are bursting into blossom all over the George Washington University campus. In fact, the D.C. region’s iconic cherry blossoms hit peak bloom early this week, just in time to kick off the city’s National Cherry Blossom Festival. A celebration born from a 1912 friendship gift of more than 3,000 trees from the people of Japan to the people of the United States, the festival starts today. Scroll down for a selection of a few of the many events on offer, or draw on the much older Japanese tradition of hanami, or “flower viewing,” and take a few friends to the National Mall to ponder the transient beauty of the falling petals on your own schedule.

Ongoing from March 20 Cherry Blossom Celebration at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art
1050 Independence Ave., SW

The NMAA offers a fleet of blossom-themed events this month, including a Kyoto Kimono trunk show with spectacular garments on offer and a March 22 performance by opening ceremony headliner Naotaro Moriyama.

March 23 at 5 p.m. Opening Ceremony

Tickets are sold out for the in-person show featuring New York-based composer and instrumentalist Kaoru Watanable, Japanese folk-pop artist Naotaro Moriyama and choreographer and dancer Jo Kanamori with dancers from the Washington Ballet Company. But you can still catch the livestream on the festival’s YouTube channel.

March 29 Cherry Night
Various locations
RSVP required

For celebrants over 21, restaurants and bars across the region will feature special blossom-themed cocktails, beats and treats, like a “Pink Friday”-themed dance night at Wunder Garten on H Street and a “pink as the blossoms” dress code party at Chinatown hotel bar Dirty Habit.

March 30 Blossom Kite Festival
Washington Monument grounds
2 15th St., NW

Colorful kites pack the sky at this not-to-be-missed festival highlight, also featuring choreographed flying demonstrations, kite-making competitions, and performances by local groups and dynamic traditional Japanese taiko drummers. Full schedule and competition registration information here.

April 6 at 1 p.m. Petalpalooza
Capital Riverfront
1250 Half St., SE

This daylong all-ages celebration features interactive art, live music, food and drink and more, all a short walk from the Green Line’s Navy Yard Metro station. Stay until nightfall to catch the official fireworks show.

April 13 at 10 a.m. National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Huge blossom-themed floats and vibrant dance performances are the annual stars of the festival parade, but this year’s headliners, hip hop forefathers the Sugar Hill Gang, offer strong competition.