Every year D.C. celebrates the 1912 Tokyo gift of cherry blossoms to D.C., where more than 3,000 cherry trees were donated to the District. The city celebrates the budding blossoms in the most festive ways possible – with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, themed drinks, specially curated menus, outdoor activities, and more. Many of the festivities will run at the same time as this year’s festival, March 15 to April 16. Thanks to an earlier than expected peak bloom prediction (moved slightly back to March 19 to March 22), some of the events and menus will be debut early next week. Here’s your guide to cherry blossom everything.
Mockingbird Hill and Southern Efficiency are back again, having swapped out the Stranger Things décor for cherry blossom themed decorations in honor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. From the makeshift blossoms hanging from the bar ceiling to the Maggie O’Neil print of the Jefferson Memorial surrounded by blossoming trees, the pop-up bar screams festive. The flowery décor is complemented by equally as festive drinks, like the Chartreuse and sake “I Call Yoshi!”
Why not welcome cherry blossom season with Japanese tradition and delicious cocktails? On March 13 from 9 pm. to 1 a.m., The Royal will celebrate the tradition of yozakura (a nighttime viewing of the cherry blossoms) and host guest bartender Eddie Kim. The one night only pop-up bar will showcase cherry liqueurs, teas, syrups, and Japanese cocktail ingredients.
Head over to City Tap Penn Quarter and down some Japanese Whiskey. For $25 each guest can enjoy two Japanese whiskey tasting flights, featuring spirits like the Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt and Suntory Toki whiskeys.
To kick off a week of events, Via Umbria will be hosting a wine tasting in honor of the National Cherry Blossom festival at 7:30 p.m. The event will feature four Italian wines with notes of cherry for guests’ tasting pleasure.
Celebrate Japan’s gift of cherry blossoms to the District with the inaugural Rosé Romp from 1pm to 5pm. As part of the festival, enjoy Château d’Esclan’s rosé wines from the hotel’s terrace and take in the view of beautiful cherry blossoms. The event includes an “Art Walk,” where guests can view cherry blossom inspired artwork by local artists and enjoy live music by the Bachelor Boys.
Celebrate the cherry blossoms with unlimited beer, cider, and wine, Boozy Bingo, live music, D.C. food trucks, and more. The annual Cherry Blossom Wine and Beer Festival will be held on April 1 and April 2 over at Yards Park.
In honor of the cherry blossoms’ early predicted full bloom, Bar Dupont will be offering cherry blossom inspired cocktails a bit earlier this year as well. Bar-goers can choose from one of five festival themed cocktails. Order the I Shochu Chu Choose You (sweet potato shochu, green tea, Alexandro Olosoro sherry, grapefruit, soda water, and lemon) or the Isla de la Juventud (Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whiskey, Giffard Oregat, Smith & Cross Rum, lemon, persimmon, and bitters).
Sip on a themed cocktail and imagine yourself cozied up underneath a blossom tree. The Blossom Cocktail Lounge is open nightly the MGM National Harbor in honor of this year’s festival. The intimate lounge features cherry blossom light fixtures and floral themed décor to have you thinking you’re sitting right underneath a blossom tree. On top of the blossom themed design, the bar’s signature drink is the Nellie Blossom cocktail (vodka, pomegranate, champagne, lemon rose syrup and cherry blossom tea). Lounge away.
Cherry blossom inspired drinks are an obvious theme in D.C. Head over to The Graham in Georgetown and order a Geisha Gal (pun intended) offered exclusively throughout the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The cleverly named drink is made of cherry house infused vodka, fresh lemon juice, honey syrup, lillet rose liqueur, plum bitters, and sparkling wine all topped off with a cherry garnish.
Pop over to Provision 14 and indulge in a French press cocktail with a cherry blossom-inspired twist. Order the mango rose press, made with Hendrick’s gin, marsala, combier rose, mango, kappa pisco, and cherry blossom-rose tea.
TenPenh is putting a Far East twist on a classic boulevardier cocktail in honor of this year’s festivities. Paying homage to Japan, the blossoming boulevardier is made with Suntory toki Japanese whiskey, cherry liqueur, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, aperol, Regan’s orange bitters, and topped off with a cherry garnish.
Throughout the National Cherry Blossom Festival, head over Claudia’s Steakhouse and indulge in a cherry inspired drink. The cherry lavender cocktail is made with St. Germain, cherry puree, lemon juice, and lavender infused Ciroc Vodka.
Would any festival season be complete in D.C. if there weren’t themed doughnuts to complement the festivities? On March 3 Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken debuted new doughnut flavors like the passion fruit coconut, banana salted cashew, cherry cheesecake, and rocky road. Indulge in these four flavors until the trees start to bloom, at which point the cherry cheesecake will be replaced by the cherry blossom doughnut (cream cheese glaze, cherry jam filling, and a cherry blossom design made with dark chocolate and cherry butter cream).
Georgia Brown’s will be offering a special menu of Cherry Blossom Bites in honor of blossom season. Order a sweet dessert like the chocolate-cherry skillet cobbler (vanilla ice cream, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and fresh cherries), or sip on cherry old fashioned (Jim Beam black cherry red stag, cherry, orange, and bitters).
Normally, a cherry infused sandwich would seem like a lot to handle, but during cherry blossom season anything is possible. TICO will be offering the media noche sandwich in celebration of the festival. The sandwich consists of wild boar belly, cherry-cola glaze, Morello cherry mustard, and mojo verde – all of the fixings for a sweet and savory meal.
ENO Wine Bar will be serving a specially curated menu in honor of the special season in D.C. Guests can order a special duck pâté with pink peppercorn, pistachios, and dark cherries, or sip on a Cherrykriek cider from Millstone Cidery in Maryland. The menu will be offered through April 20.
To celebrate the cherry blossoms, Firefly’s executive chef, Jammir Gray, will offer a special three course dinner with a cherry blossom inspired menu. Guests can choose from three options for each course. Order the cherry gazpacho (hearts of palm, cilantro, and whipped crème fraiche) for the first course, and finish with the cherries jubilee for dessert (pecan oat crumble and bing cherry compote). The restaurant will also offer one of two specialty cocktails to complement the menu, the Capital Blossom (Bombay Sapphire, St. Germain, cherry blossom tincture, and cherry blossom-infused cream) and the Sakura (a sake cocktail).
Up Top Acres partnered with the National Cherry Blossom Festival for an evening of literal farm to table dining. (get it.. because you are at a farm…) anyways your ticket includes drinks and light bites from Little Sesame and produce grown right there at the farm. Get tickets.
To welcome the cherry blossoms, The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City will be offering a specially curated menu inspired by the sakura. Chef Alexander Gut’s menu will incorporate the sakura into each dish offered on fyve’s seasonal menu. Order a cherry blossom inspired meal like the house made soba noodles infused with sakura and served with tsuyu sauce.
There’s nothing quite like enjoying a good-themed snack to welcome a new season. In addition to debuting a series of new spring themed cakes and cookies (like the hummingbird cake and the peanut maple cake), RareSweets will be selling cherry blossom cookies in honor of cherry blossom season. The new sweet snack is made with chocolate shortbread cookies, royal icing, and floral designs.
Traditional Italian drinks and desserts with a cherry-inspired twist. In honor of cherry blossom season here in the District, Osteria Morini is debuting a new cherry bellini made with fresh cherry puree, Maurin Quina liqueur, prosecco and served with a Maraschino cherry. Sip on the sweet drink while enjoying a cherry affogato made with vanilla gelato, cherry sauce made in house, and espresso all served cherry pistachio biscotti.
BLT Prime is debuting a whole menu dedicated to cherry blossom season this year. Food lovers can enjoy savory dishes like the swordfish steak (served with an herbaceous cherry chimichurri), or indulge in sweet desserts like the cherry clafoutis (lavender and honey ice cream).
Casolare will be celebrating this festival season by highlighting the taste of Italian Amarena cherries grown in Bologna and Modena. Throughout the entire National Cherry Blossom Festival, sundae lovers can order a sundae that includes three scoops of either milk chocolate crunch, vanilla bean, pistachio, or strawberry gelato all topped off with Amarena cherries, almond crunch, whipped cream, chocolate and caramel sauce.
Head over to either of the Alta Strada locations and indulge in an almond crusted tartlet filled with Amarena cherries, seasonal fruits, and served with vanilla bean gelato. The sweet treat will be served throughout the entirety of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Paying tribute to cherry blossom season wouldn’t be complete without paying homage to Japanese culture and cuisine. Chef Joe Palma has curated a special menu that tips its hat to both Japan and Bourbon Steak’s meant-centric style. Enjoy a duo of Japanese Wagyu paired with one of three sakes and celebrate Japanese cuisine beyond sushi. The menu addition will be available throughout the festival this year.
Believe it or not, the Belgian influenced Brasserie Beck and fine French dining flagship Marcel’s are joining in on the cherry blossom food festivities. Chef Robert Wiedmaier’s two restaurants will be serving cheese courses with a cherry blossom theme. At Brasserie Beck cheese-lovers can enjoy a hood river cherry and tarragon compote, while at Marcel’s guests can enjoy a torchon of foie gras with cherry cotton candy.
There’s nothing like a themed dessert to inspire a festive feeling. Buttercream Bakeshop in Shaw will be serving lemon cupcakes filled with sour cherry pie filling and covered in Japanese matcha butter cream throughout the Cherry Blossom Festival this year. Grab a cupcake and head over to the Tidal Basin to get the full festival experience.
If you’re looking for some sweet indulgences this year, head over to one of Fabio Trabocchi’s restaurants. Brandon Malzahn, Trabocchi restaurants’ executive pastry chef, will be debuting new cherry blossom inspired deserts at Casa Luca and Fiola in honor of the festival. Head over to Fiola and order the Nitro Cherry Spumoni (fior di latte, lime yogurt, and Sorrento lemon), or swing by Casa Luca to get the Budino Di Riso (vanilla rice pudding, Amarena cherries, and caramelized almonds).
In honor of this year’s celebrations, Mastro’s will be offering a cherry crisp dessert for hungry festival-goers to indulge in.
For Japanese floral inspired cocktails and meals, the Washington Marriott Georgetown will offer a special menu for cherry blossom season. The bar will serve the Sakuresque cocktail, a blend of citrus and botanical flavors; and the hotel’s The Visiteur restaurant will offer a menu that combines global flavors with local comfort food, like the Yakisoba beef noodle bowl.
In honor of the budding blossoms, executive pastry chef at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, Thierry Delourneaux, is debuting a new cherry blossom themed dessert. The sakura orchard is made with a sakura sponge cake, sakura white chocolate cream, sakura caviar, oatmeal crumb, micro herbs, and garnished with brandied cherries.
Celebrate the beginning of the National Cherry Blossom Festival at the Opening Ceremony. From 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. enjoy performances from J-pop singer May J, traditional Japanese theater, and more to kick off the annual festival.
A crowd favorite is back with the seventh annual Blossom Kite Festival as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. From 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., break out your favorite kite and celebrate the kick off of kite season at the Washington Monument.
From March 27 through April 1, enjoy inaugural performances from SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras at The Kennedy Center and additional venues around D.C. SHIFT showcases the talents of North American orchestras for a week long festival. This year the festival hosts Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, The Knights, North Carolina Symphony, and Boulder Philharmonic. Catch free pop-up concerts by Boulder Philharmonic around the Tidal Basin as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Celebrate Japanese culture at Sakura Matsuri, a massive street festival with performances from cultural groups, food booths, and arts vendors. The day long festival will run from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Head over to Constitution Avenue for the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. Take in the sights of massive colorful balloons and elaborate floats, and enjoy performances throughout the 10-block span of the parade. What’s a national festival without a parade anyway?
One of the main events of the national festival, the third annual Anacostia River Festival will be held on from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. This year’s event will celebrate the extension of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail into Bladensburg, MD, and have a special focus on biking in D.C.
Kick off the finale of the National Cherry Blossom Festival with a night dedicated to celebrating cherry blossoms and Japanese night life. Dock 5 will be home to Tokyo street food, a dance party, a night market, and more to celebrate the end of cherry blossom season.
Join Smithsonian American Art Museum, BYT (us y’all!), and Lululemon for a morning of getting your ~flow~ on in the gorgeous Kogod courtyard. Free. RSVP required: https://saamcherryblossomyoga.eventbrite.com
Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival April 15
Speaking of national festivals, what’s a celebration without fireworks? Celebrate the season with live music, a beer garden, food trucks, and more at the District Wharf from 2 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Top off the festive vibes with a fireworks show starting at 8:30 p.m.
Now your skin can enjoy cherry blossom season too. Blush Med Skincare will offering a sakura cherry blossom peel throughout the festival. Made with the sakura flower (cherry blossoms), the peel is designed to target hyper pigmentation, pollution or environmental stress on skin, and oily or combination skin.
As more events pop up we’ll be adding them to this piece.