Conditions for D.C.'s Beautiful Cherry Blossom Bloom Are Just Right

cherry blossom washington dc 2020

It's not always the case, but the gorgeous cherry blossom bloom in Washington, DC is projected to arrive on schedule this year.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a spectacular event in the nation's capital, drawing around 1.5 million people. The festival runs from March 20 to April 12. However, that doesn't mean that every day of the festival is created equal. If you're going, you want to be there during peak bloom, the time when the bright pink flowers are exploding with color. (And tourists are stopping every 10 feet for that Instagram-worthy image to prove they were there.)

The National Park Service (NPS) defines peak bloom as the day when 70% of the Yoshino cherry trees in the capital's Tidal Basin are in bloom. The NPS puts out an annual projection, while simultaneously noting it's basically impossible to accurately predict the bloom more than 10 days in advance. Nonetheless, the NPS does its best to make sure the predicted date is updated as they know more to help travelers plan their visit.

The NPS currently projects peak bloom will occur from March 27-30.

The typical peak bloom date arrives sometime during the last week of March and the first week of April. Historically, the date has fallen anywhere from March 15 to April 18. That underscores how hard it can be to project the date. "Forecasting peak bloom is almost impossible more than 10 days in advance," the agency writes on its Bloom Watch site. "The cherry trees' blossom development is dependent on weather conditions, which are inherently variable."

Once peak bloom lands, the blossoms stick around for up to two weeks, providing a nice window for you to get to DC and admire the trees, which were a gift from the mayor of Tokyo in 1912. However, these trees are vulnerable to freezing temperatures. In 2017, an early bloom coincided with freezing temperature and killed about half of the blossoms before the peak even arrived. 

The projection will almost certainly be adjusted as we get closer. If you're planning a trip, pay attention to the NPS site or check back here. We'll update the date as the NPS make more information available. 

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.