What started as a goodwill gift of 3,000 cherry trees from the mayor of Tokyo to the nation’s capital in 1912 has since turned into a full-fledged region-wide festival. Locals and visitors alike stream into DC every spring to get a glimpse of the now world-famous cherry blossoms in bloom and partake in the dozens of activities that make up the National Cherry Blossom Festival. But you know the drill by now: As with many other signature events here and across the country, this year’s festival is pivoting. Instead of meandering around the Tidal Basin to snap Instagram-worthy photos of the flowers, you can enjoy most of this year’s blossom-themed content from the comfort of your couch.
Between March 20 and April 11, cherry blossom fans can watch the opening ceremonies online (March 20); decorate their own kite and fly it in seasonal solidarity in their backyard—instead of the usual National Mall get together (March 27 and 28); partake in the Pink Tie Party with a virtual dinner party and sake tasting (March 27); and—if you want to get out of the house—see Art in Bloom, where a series of 25 cherry blossom-themed sculptures will be placed throughout the city (and even some in NoVA) to be discovered by foot or by car.
The blooming of the cherry trees is a sure sign of spring in the region—one that anyone who’s lived here for any length of time knows is a point of pride for locals. And though turning once again to virtual content may feel like yet another letdown, keep this in mind: Those cherry trees were gifted more than 100 years ago. If there were ever a sign of an enduring spring, the cherry blossom trees—and the pretty-in-pink festival that has sprung up around them—is it. So, we say, enjoy the fest safely from home this year. The flowers will still be here long after the pandemic has come to a close.