One of the nation's capital's largest public events of the year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade draws numerous spectators from around the world to Washington, D.C. The National Cherry Blossom Festival honors the 3,000 cherry trees Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gave to Washington in 1912. More than 1.5 million people from around the world come to enjoy the celebration, which also recognizes the lasting friendship between the people of Japan and the U.S.
The parade, which occurs rain or shine, combines wonderful entertainment for the whole family including decorated floats, gigantic colorful helium balloons, marching bands from around the U.S., clowns, celebrity performances, youth chorus members, dancers, high school marching bands, and various cultural performing groups.
The 2020 cherry blossom festivities run from March 20 through April 12, with the parade on April 4 from 10 a.m. to noon, and there are a variety of events taking place around the capital all month to celebrate the occasion.
Parade Route and General Information
The mile-long parade route runs along Constitution Avenue beginning at 7th Street and ending at 17th Street NW, passing near many D.C. attractions including the National Archives Research Center, the Department of Justice, Smithsonian Museums, the Washington Monument, and the White House.
This is one of the biggest events of the year and parking is extremely limited. The best way to get to the parade is by the Metro subway; the closest Metro stations are Archives/Navy Memorial, Federal Triangle, and Smithsonian.
The parade is free and open to the public for standing along the route from Constitution Avenue between 9th and 15th Streets NW, but for $20 to $30 you may purchase a reserved grandstand seat with the best view of all the floats and performers. However, space is limited so make sure you reserve your spot as soon as possible.
Official Events of the Cherry Blossom Festival
The 2020 Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off with a Pink Tie Party fundraiser at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center on March 20 from 7 to 11 p.m. Then on March 21, the SAAM Cherry Blossom Celebration takes place at the Smithsonian American Art Museum from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., followed by an opening ceremony at the Warner Center from 5-6:30 p.m. The parade itself, presented by Events DC, takes place on April 4.
Petalpalooza, an event at the Capitol Riverfront, returns on April 11, 2020, from 1-9 p.m. Guests are invited to enjoy multiple music stages, interactive art, life-size games, fireworks, a beer garden, and a celebration of all that blossoms in D.C.
An annual city-wide event lasting more than three weeks, the National Cherry Blossom Festival features more than 150 daily international, national, and local entertainers, sports competitions, and beyond. Be sure to check the official festival website for up-to-date information on hosts, performers, and a full schedule of events.