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

According to the National Park Service, we have now reached the much-anticipated peak bloom.

DC cherry blossom bloom peak 2023
Photo by John Baggaley/Moment/Getty Images
Photo by John Baggaley/Moment/Getty Images

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. 

The details in 2023 will be different from previous years, but the trees will again do their thing. As ever, though, it's all about knowing when the bloom is expected to reach its peak. You want to be there when those trees are at their most beautiful. 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. 

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

The NPS had projected that peak bloom would occur from March 22-25 in 2023, and they were right on the money in their prediction this year. On Thursday, March 23, the NPS announced that DC's peak cherry blossom bloom had officially been reached and that the blossoms were "putting on a gorgeous show."

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.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival has drawn around 1.5 million people to the nation's capital to enjoy the pink blossoms. This year's festival launched on Saturday and will continue through April 16, 2023. In honor of the occasion this year, the DC Metro is celebrating with cherry blossom-themed wraps on several Metrorail train cars and Metrobuses throughout the DC, and launched a special feature on its tracker to help commuters spot where the special cherry blossom trains and buses are at any given time.

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. While it might feel early to some, this year's peak bloom date of March 23 actually falls two days after the 2022 date, and three days after its 2020 date. That said, the 2023 date came five days prior to the 2021 date and nine days prior to the 2019 date. 

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 festival's opening ceremony already took place, the festival will run into mid-April, so you should be able to find events whenever you're heading to the capital for the cherry blossoms.

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.

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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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow Dustin Nelson on Twitter.

Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.