After a harsh winter for much of the United States, you’re probably more than ready for spring. And if you’re looking for a way to welcome the season of flowers, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is a good place to start.
The annual Washington festival started Wednesday, the first day of spring, and runs through April 14. The peak bloom time for the cherry trees is expected in early April.
Arabella Bowen, executive editorial director for Fodor’s Travel, recommends these seven ways to experience the more than 3,000 cherry trees in bloom:
Arrival of spring deserves its own parade. The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade runs along Constitution Avenue (from 7th to 17th streets N.W.) from 10 a.m. to noon April 13. The parade will feature celebrity performances, giant helium balloons, colorful floats and marching bands from across the country. Grandstand seating can be purchased for $20, and there is no cost for viewing along the parade route.
Celebrate the culture of Japan. Also on April 13, Sakura Matsuri, a Japanese street festival, runs nearly a mile through downtown Washington and features traditional and Japanese pop musical performances, an arts and culture section, martial arts demonstrations and Japanese products, plus more than two dozen food vendors and two Kirin Ichiban beer gardens. These events make a nice addition to a day spent enjoying the blossoming trees, which were a gift from Tokyo more than 100 years ago.
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Cruise the blooms. Relax and tour the cherry blossoms by boat on the Potomac River. Enjoy a lunch cruise for $57 or a dinner cruise for $107 with Spirit Cruises, or just go for a 45-minute sightseeing cruise on the Capital Elite yacht for $26.
Capture the perfect shot. Take your best shot with a cherry blossom photo safari. Washington Photo Safari offers sunrise and afternoon tours at the Tidal Basin for $69. The sunrise tours meet at 6:15 a.m., but “remember that great art is only produced through suffering,” the company’s website says.
Read more: CNN