Japan gave 3,020 cherry trees to the U.S. in 1912 as a symbol of friendship. Each year since, the blooms come alive during the warmer early spring and attract thousands of people to the nation’s capital. The splash of color that surrounds Washington as the trees bloom serves as the first spring celebration.
First Lady Michelle Obama was the honorary chair for last year’s celebration and planted one cherry tree in West Potomac Park. This year, 150 trees will be planted there to add to the spring scenery.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off on March 20 and goes through April 14. There are a variety of activities, ranging from arts and culture events to a 5K race, 10 mile race and even a half-mile kids’ run.
(Photo courtesy of cherryblossom.org)
**PEAK BLOOM PREDICTION UPDATED**
Green buds appeared on March 11 and The National Park Service originally said the peak bloom (when 70% of the cherry blossoms are open) would be from March 26-30. That is about a week earlier than average with the peak bloom date is usually April 4. Since March has been such a cool month (uhh, it was 40 degrees yesterday for a high) the peak bloom has been pushed back. The National Park Service is now predicting for a peak bloom between April 3 and April 6, which lies right around average.
Looking back through time, the cherry blossoms have mostly peaked ahead of schedule (or average) for the last decade. Here’s a closer look year-by-year when the cherry blossoms have reached the greatest color, including the earliest and latest peak blooms.
- The blooming period, defined as the time span between when 20% of the blooms open until the petals fall, typically lasts 10 days to two weeks.
Last year, the cherry blossoms peaked earlier than this year’s expected peak bloom due to the very warm weather. The string of 80-degree days in early March accelerated the process.