National Cherry Blossom Festival

Opening Ceremony Kicks Off National Cherry Blossom Festival in DC, Blossoms Stop Traffic

This year is the festival’s 111th anniversary, and it will be celebrated with several fun, food and cultural events.

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The opening ceremony of the National Cherry Blossom Festival kicked off the four weeks of events billed as the world’s best celebration of spring on Saturday in Washington, D.C., while the blossoms caused gridlock around the Tidal Basin.

The signature event celebrates the gift of cherry blossom trees presented in 1912 from Tokyo to the District, in honor of the friendship between Japan and the U.S.

Hundreds attended Warner Theatre for the ceremony, marking the beginning of the festival with one-of-a-kind performances from renowned Japanese and American artists.

This year is the festival’s 111th anniversary, and it will be celebrated with several fun, food and cultural events.

Despite Saturday's gloomy weather, crowds flocked to see the blossoms, and at one point, U.S. Park Police issued a traffic alert.

Viewers also sent pictures showing bumper-to-bumper traffic near the Tidal Basin, with some saying they were stuck for hours.

With a better forecast for the rest of the weekend and even bigger crowds expected, you may want to ditch your car an take public transit to enjoy the bloom. Metro has increased Blue, Orange and Silver line service and is offering $2 fares one-way through the entire festival. Check out our guide to visiting the Tidal Basin.

Now, if you weren’t able to get to the Tidal Basin for the first day of peak bloom (March 23), don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time to take in the blossoms. 

“They’re still peaking right now, so they’re still at 70% of the blossoms blooming. I think we’ll get through the weekend at least, maybe even through next week, and hopefully we’ll still see some blossoms around next weekend,” Diana Mayhew, president of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, said. 

Organizers said the Blossom Kite Festival on the National Mall had to be postponed until Sunday due to weather, and rain chances expected Friday and Saturday could affect the longevity of the blossoms, according to Storm Team4.

The best day for blossom viewing will be Sunday, when the sun is shining. 

The festival will wrap up on April 16. More cherry blossoms can be found blooming across the D.C. area or viewed at home on the BloomCam if you can't get outside just yet.

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