Find out the ideal time frame for viewing these gorgeous flowers, either virtually or in person.
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The official kickoff of spring is just a few weeks away; the vernal equinox is Saturday, March 20. But many people across the country already see signs of sweet springtime. The temperatures are rising (fingers crossed for no more frigid days), and early-blooming flowers are starting to pop up in gardens. And in just a few weeks, we'll be able to celebrate one of the most beautiful events of the season, the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Each year, the National Park Service (NPS) reveals the peak bloom date when 70% of the Yoshino cherry trees bloom. The NPS predicts that the peak bloom for this year will be from Friday, April 2, to Monday, April 5.

cherry blossom tree
Credit: Steven Heap/EyeEm/Getty Images

The prediction is based on upcoming weather conditions and the bud development of the cherry trees so far. Bud development is classified into six stages: Green buds appearing on the trees, florets becoming visible, florets extending, peduncle (or stem) elongation, puffy white flowers emerging, and finally peak bloom. In the past, the cherry trees have reached peak bloom as early as March 20 in 2012 or as late as April 9 in 2005 and 2013. In 2017, about half of the blossoms were lost before peak bloom after a late frost happened in mid-March, underlining how tricky it can be to predict the trees’ development.

Because peak bloom time changes every year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., usually takes place over nearly a month. This year’s festival will be from March 20 to April 11, as a celebration of the original 3,000 cherry trees gifted to the city by the mayor of Tokyo in 1912. In 2020, many of the events were canceled due to COVID-19, but there was a live stream showcasing the beautiful booms. (Yes, you can also check it out this year.) Currently, the city is in the middle of Phase Two of the reopening, "which allows many businesses to reopen," according to the Destination DC website. However, there are several travel requirements if you plan on checking out the cherry blossoms in real life, including testing negative for the coronavirus, so make sure to check those out before you plan your trip. Plus, don't forget to wear your face mask as the NPS requires them at all parks and federal buildings.

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