Cherry Blossom Festival: Traveler's guide

By Robert Thomson
Sunday, March 20, 2011; 12:29 PM

When the transit authority issues a service advisory, the announcements rarely come from the boss himself. Yet it was General Manager Richard Sarles who stood before TV cameras Tuesday at Metro headquarters, along with the transit police chief and deputy general manager, to outline Metro's plan for handling crush loads of tourists this spring.

How the D.C. region's transportation system performs during the National Cherry Blossom Festival is worthy of such high-profile attention. This is the annual stress test for the rails and roads. Whether you're a tourist or commuter, use this guide to identify stress points that could challenge travelers and get tips on navigating by transit or street.


The Cherry Blossom Festival is March 26 through April 10, with a peak bloom predicted for March 29 through April 3. But it's not just about the Tidal Basin's cherry trees.

March 26: Festival opening ceremonies, 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. Nearest Metro station, Judiciary Square.

March 26: National Marathon, 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Starts on 22nd Street, near RFK Stadium. Metro opens at 6 a.m. Nearest station, Stadium-Armory. Race is very disruptive for traffic, with many street closings. Route includes East Capitol Street; Minnesota Avenue SE; South Capitol Street; P Street SW; Maine Avenue SW; Ninth Street SW; Constitution Avenue NW; 18th Street NW; Connecticut Avenue NW; Columbia Road NW; Harvard Street NW; Michigan Avenue NW; North Capitol Street; K, H, 13th and C streets NE.

March 26-April 10: Daily Cherry Blossom Festival performances at Sylvan Theater, Independence Avenue and Raoul Wallenberg Place SW near the Washington Monument; noon to 5 p.m. weekdays, noon to 6 p.m. weekends. Nearest Metro station, Smith-sonian.

March 27: Blossom Kite Festival, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Constitution Avenue and 17th Street NW, near the Washington Monument. Nearest Metro, Farragut West.

March 27: Ranger-guided Cherry Bicycle Tours, 1 to 4 p.m., Jefferson Memorial parking lot. Contact park service, 202-426-6841. Nearest Metro, Smithsonian.

March 31: Nationals Park opening day, 1:05 p.m. Nearest Metro, Navy Yard.

April 2: Fireworks at 8:30 p.m. 600 Water St. SW, on the Southwest Waterfront. Nearest Metro, Waterfront.

April 3: Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, 7:40 to 11:30 a.m.; starts on 15th Street and Jefferson Drive NW, near the Washington Monument. Route includes Independence Avenue, Memorial Bridge, Rock Creek Parkway to Kennedy Center, Ohio Drive. Metro opens at 5 a.m. Nearest station, Smithsonian. No parking in East or West Potomac parks.

April 9: Cherry Blossom Parade starts at 10 a.m., Constitution Avenue and Seventh Street NW, and ends at noon, Constitution Avenue and 17th Street. Nearest Metro stations, Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Archives.

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