The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. (March 20 – April 14, 2013) features two spectacular weeks of outdoor events and family friendly activities, most of them free, and for others deals are available. The National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the annual blossoming of the cherry trees at the Tidal Basin and the Washington Monument, with a nod to the 1912 friendship gift of 3000 cherry trees from Japan to the United States.
WHAT: The 2013 National Cherry Blossom Festival events and activities are mostly free to attend.
WHEN: The National Cherry Blossom Festival takes place March 20 – April 14, 2013.
WHERE: The Tidal Basin, West Potomac Park, Washington D.C., a short walk from the Jefferson Memorial. Other locations below.
DEALS: Tour cherry blossoms for less with these deals for cruises, walking tours, and photo tours. Free sign up is generally required to access the offers from the ticket deal sources below.
Cherry Blossom Cruise Deals
- Cherry Blossom Cruise on the Potomac River Capitol River Cruises Discount Tickets 50% Off — $20 (reg. $40). Enjoy views of the cherry blossoms and landmarks on this approximately hour-long cruise. Starts from Washington Harbor (3050 K Street, N.W. Washington, DC.)
- Patriot II Springtime Harbor Cruise Discount Tickets 50% Off – $15 (reg. $30). Cruise the Potomac with views of the cherry blossoms, the capitol, the national monuments. Many dates available during March and April 2013. Starts from the north side of Channel Inn Hotel (700 Water Street, SW Washington, DC 20024).
- Patriot II Cherry Blossom Happy Hour Cruise w/ Views Discount Tickets 50% Off– $15 (reg. $30). Climb aboard a multi-million dollar high-speed catamaran, and set sail for a relaxing 90 minutes on the Potomac River. Features views of the cherry blossoms, the capitol, and national monuments. Climate controlled cabin, cash bar and snacks.
- Nina’s Dandy National Monuments and Cherry Blossoms Cruise Discount Tickets 40% Off – $28.80 – $64.80 (reg. $48 – $108). Cruise from historic Old Town Alexandria, Virginia to Georgetown, with views of national monuments and museums, including the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. Lunch cruises feature a three-course meal served at table. Sunday champagne brunch cruises feature a buffet. Dinner cruises feature live music, a meal and dancing. Several March 2013 dates and times available. Nina’s Dandy (Zero Prince St. Alexandria, VA 22314).
Cherry Blossom Walking Tour Deals
- Cherry Blossom Walking Tour: The Blossom Secrets Stroll Discount Tickets 50% Off – $7.50 (reg. $15).Hear the stories behind the DC cherry blossoms and other local flora on this two-hour guided walking. A few dates available in March and April 2013. Washington, D.C. Metro Area, Meet outside the Smithsonian Metro Station (1200 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20024)
- 3-Hour Cherry Blossom Photography Tour Along the Tidal Basin Discount Tickets 50% Off – $25 (reg. $50). March 30, 10am. 3 hour walking tour led by a professional photographer and licensed tour guide, you’ll visit three contrasting memorials framing the city’s western border along the Tidal Basin (Washington, DC).
- Art in Springtime Weekend at The Phillips Collection Discount Tickets 50% Off – $6 (reg. $12) plus fees. Sign in with the deal source for info & tickets. You get admission to the museum, featuring cherry blossom specials at the shop and delicious spring-inspired menu items like cherry crumb pie and themed cocktails at Tryst at the Phillips café.
Signature Events (details on the National Cherry Blossom Festival site):
- National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade: (Free) Saturday, April 13, 2013, 10am. Along Constitution Ave, 7th to 17th Streets, NW.
- Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival: ($5, 12 & under Free) Saturday, April 13, 2013, 10:30am – 6pm. 12th Street & Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.
- Opening Ceremony: (Free, advanced tickets required): Saturday, April 13, 2013, 5pm – 6:30pm. Warner Theater – 513 13th St, NW.
- Best cherry blossom viewing: Rent a Tidal Basin Paddle Boat. (Reservations recommended.)
- Peak blooming period: This year the best time for viewing is predicted for March 26 – 30, 2013.
- Best way to get to the Tidal Basin: Take the Metro Blue or Orange lines to the Smithsonian Station (less than half a mile to the Tidal Basin). Then walk west on Independence Avenue to 15th Street. Turn left and head south along 15th Street.
- Best place to park: Finding a parking spot during the festival can be challenging. Look for street parking near the Basin (very limited). The East Potomac Park parking lot at Haines Pt. has limited free parking (320 spaces) that fill up fast (900 Ohio Dr SW, Washington D.C., 20024).
- Best places to stay: If you’re coming from out of town, Budget Travel recommends the fashionable and eco-friendly Hotel George, a 15-minute walk from the festival. To find the best hotel deals and packages at anytime, see our Washington D.C. hotel deals page.