WASHINGTON (NEWSnet) – Cherry blossoms are a cherished springtime view in Washington D.C., where thousands of trees display pale pink and white blooms for just a few days at a time.

Peak bloom for the capitol’s cherry blossoms is expected this year around March 23-26, or close to last year’s March 23 peak bloom, the National Park Service horticulturalists reported Thursday.

 

The trees are the backdrop and highlight for the National Cherry Blossom Festival – four weeks of activities and sights taking place throughout Washington D.C. along with neighboring Maryland and Virginia.

The most popular place to view the blossoms, according to Washington.org, is the Tidal Basin Welcome Area, which the NPS said currently has about 3,800 cherry trees. The blossoms can be seen near the Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Smaller clusters of cherry trees are along the National Mall, near the Washington Monument.

Cherry trees were a friendship gift from Japan in 1912; when Helen “Nellie” Taft was the first lady. She then introduced the Japanese custom of strolling among flowering trees to the city, and subsequent first ladies have been named honorary chairs of the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Activities during the festival time include the Blossom Kite Festival, Japanese Street Festival, Capital Waterfront Fireworks and National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade.

Other traditions during cherry blossom time include a friendship mural created by children in the U.S. as a gift to children in Japan.

Those who wish to see the trees or attend festival events in person are urged to use public transit such as Metro train or water taxi, or even bicycles, to arrive to the viewing area. “There is not enough parking to accommodate all the vehicles driven to the Cherry Blossom festival,” the NPS said.

Washington.org also suggested visiting in early morning or evening, when the crowds are not as busy.

Those who can’t see the flowering trees in person are invited to participate in the Virtual Festival on the NPS site.

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