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The 2021 National Cherry Blossom Festival Will Mix Virtual and In-Person Events

Plans for how to visit the trees safely are still up in the air.

Next spring, for the second year in a row, the coronavirus pandemic will force big changes on the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Festival President Diana Mayhew and other leaders on Wednesday announced a mix of virtual and in-person events that will take place from March 20 through April 11.

Among the virtual events: an online opening ceremony and a nationally syndicated TV program produced by Events DC, one of the festival’s largest sponsors. The annual Pink Tie Party will also be held virtually, but the festival has announced plans for socially distanced watch parties for the gala. In-person gatherings will include a socially distanced kite-flying event as well as a “Petal Procession” parade through the wards of the city.

If you’re looking to visit the blossoms at the Tidal Basin next year, the National Park Service has said it is looking into ways to allow people to safely view the blooms, but it hasn’t yet announced plans. Earlier this year, Mayor Muriel Bowser called on the DC National Guard and DC police to restrict access to the Tidal Basin, after large crowds descended on the trees in late March, blithely ignoring concerns about coronavirus.

The festival also unveiled its official poster for 2021, a painting by California artist Patrick Guyton. Guyton, who frequently works with metal leaf, used silver and gold leaf to give the appearance of cherry blossoms floating over the National Mall in the painting. There will be other blossom-themed public art displays throughout the festival as well.

2021 marks the 109th anniversary of Japan’s gift of the cherry trees to DC, and the Japanese Embassy continues to support the festival. Amazon has also joined as a lead sponsor for next year, two years after announcing plans to build its “HQ2” in Arlington.