Here's When DC's Cherry Blossom Bloom Is at Its Peak This Year

The much-anticipated peak bloom will occur in late March, according to the National Park Service.

Though the details surrounding the beloved National Cherry Blossom Festival have changed from year to year, the trees are still trees. They keep on blooming, and you can plan a trip to see those beautiful blossoming trees in Washington, DC this month.

Cherry Blossoms, somewhat poetically, require a period of cold before the spring sun warms the plant enough to bloom. The length of the blooming period is entirely dependent on the weather—with a long bloom period extending to two weeks, and a short period lasting just four or five days, according to Cherry Blossom Watch. To make sure you can catch the window when the Cherry Blossoms are at peak bloom, turn to the experts. Fortunately, the National Park Service (NPS) has experts on the case.

The NPS says peak bloom lands on the day when 70% of the Yoshino cherry trees in DC's Tidal Basin are in bloom. The NPS puts out an annual projection of when that peak will arrive. Though, it's hard to project with accuracy more than about a week-and-a-half from the bloom. Nonetheless, the NPS does its best to update the projected date as March wears on. The closer we are to that date, the more accurate the forecast will be.

Here's what to know about planning a trip to see the peak bloom in Washington DC, so that you can be there when those trees are at their most beautiful.

When will DC's cherry blossoms reach peak bloom this year?

The NPS projects that peak bloom would occur from March 23-26. According to NPS' Bloom Watch, florets (the beginning stage of bloom) were observed on March 5. Last year, the appearance of florets happened earlier, on March 1.

In 2023, the NPS prediction was between March 22-25, and they were right on the money. On March 23, 2023, the NPS announced that DC's peak cherry blossom bloom had officially hit and that the blossoms were "putting on a gorgeous show."

How can I see DC's cherry blossoms?

Plan on making your way down to DC's Tidal Basin, which is located in West Potomac Park near the National Mall. For an even more immersive experience, you can check out the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which draws around 1.5 million people to the nation's capital to enjoy the pink blossoms every year. This year's festival will run between March 20 and April 14 and will feature a parade, art installations, cultural events at the Japan Information and Culture Center, and dozens of other events, most of which are free.

If you really want to be involved in this year's National Cherry Blossom Festival, you can even volunteer to sign up through the festival website. Volunteers can assist with everything from planting trees to being goodwill ambassadors.

Ahead of peak bloom, the NPS launched its live cherry blossom bloom cam. The bloom cam offers a live look at the National Mall Tidal Basin's cherry trees as viewed from the top of the nearby Salamander Washington DC. So even if you can't make it to the capital in person, you can still get a birds-eye-view of the show. 

Typically, peak bloom arrives sometime between the last week of March through the first week of April. Going back to 2004, however, that has occurred anywhere from March 15 through April 18, which you can see through the NPS's chart tracking blooming seasons. 

That stretch of more than a month and the variety of recent peak bloom dates helps illustrate how difficult it can be to predict the peak. "Forecasting peak bloom is almost impossible more than 10 days in advance," the NPS wrote on its Bloom Watch site. "The cherry trees' blossom development is dependent on weather conditions, which are inherently variable."

The blossoms will be visible after peak bloom.

Broadly speaking, the blossoms tend to be visible for visitors for up to two weeks after the March 23 peak. It provides some time for you to get there and enjoy those gorgeous blossoms. Though, remember that it's not an art installation. They're trees, and as such, they're vulnerable to freezing temperatures that can alter when the peak arrives or how long those blooms stay on the trees. The NPS notes that in 2017, an early bloom coincided with freezing temperatures and killed about half of all the blossoms before the peak even arrived.

Though the Tidal Basin blossoms tend to draw large crowds, there are many other spots in the DMV where you can experience the phenomenon without as much of the hustle and bustle. And if you're not in or near DC and experiencing cherry blossom FOMO, you can also check out the gorgeousness in NYC, in Philadelphia, and in many other US destinations

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She holds a bachelor's and master's degree in Journalism from NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She's worked in digital media for eight years, and before working at Thrillist, she wrote for Mic, The Cut, The Fader, Vice, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.
Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow Dustin Nelson on Twitter.