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  •   A Grand Blossoming Begins at Tidal Basin

    Tidal Basin Map
    The Tidal Basin and surrounding memorials are hopping with activity during blossom time. Check our clickable calendar for National Cherry Blossom Festival events.
    By John P. Martin
    Washingtonpost.com Writer
    Updated March 26, 1999

    The curtain is rising on Washington’s most dazzling rite of spring.

    That’s right – the cherry blossoms are getting ready to burst forth, bubbling like champagne after the cork is popped.

    The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival starts Sunday, March 28, and runs through April 11. Thanks to a late cold snap, the blossoms will be popping during the festival, which is rare – they often are spent by late March. The blooms are expected to peak between April 5 and 8.

    Blossom-watching marks the unofficial beginning of spring in the D.C. area. So pack a picnic, grab your camera and join the thousands of others who’ll flock to the Tidal Basin and its surrounding area over the next two weeks.

    A Bloomin' Difference
    Not all blossoms are alike. Four kinds of cherry trees rim the Tidal Basin.
    Blossoms
    Need help? Then keep reading. You can pick up some tidbits of cherry tree trivia and history. You’ll also find some hints on how to enjoy one capital event that’s free, fun to watch and keeps drawing crowds year after year.

    Your first step is to your car, which you’ll lock and leave untouched. You won’t need it and don’t want it – unless you want to sit trapped near the Tidal Basin in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

    Bad traffic can crop up in along the basin at any time. But combine a warm spring day with the spectacular blossoms and gridlock is almost guaranteed.

    Washington Monument from Tidal Basin
    The Washington Monument is just a few minutes north of the Tidal Basin.
    (Dan Murano/washingtonpost.com)
    Instead, take the Metro to the Smithsonian station, climb to the top of the Mall entrance and face the Capitol. Immediately turn around, and proceed west toward the Washington Monument, paralleling Jefferson Drive SW. As you do, notice the pink and white blaze rise from the area just left of the monument. This is your destination.

    While you're at it, notice the lack of parking. Congratulate yourself.

    PAGE 2

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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