National Cherry Blossom Festival to proceed in 2021 with changes due to COVID-19; parade canceled

Despite government warnings to maintain 'social distancing' and avoid crowds due to the threat of the novel coronavirus, tourists continue to visit the Tidal Basin as peak bloom for the cherry trees approaches March 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo

The National Cherry Blossom Festival announced Tuesday that the iconic spring celebration will proceed as planned in 2021 with some changes due to COVID-19 restrictions in the nation's capital. The beloved parade, however, has been canceled. 

Officials say a full schedule of the 2021 Festival, which is set to happen March 20 through April 1, is currently being developed. More details will be shared next month. 

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“The health and safety of our Festival staff and the attendees, sponsors, and other stakeholders remain the Festival’s top priority,” said Diana Mayhew, president and CEO of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. “While we know the community will miss the tradition of the Parade, a striking and celebratory procession down Constitution Avenue, plans to present the 2021 Festival in innovative and fun ways are already underway.

Earlier this year, the parade and related festival events were canceled in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

RELATED: Some National Cherry Blossom Festival events postponed, canceled due to coronavirus outbreak

Normally crowded shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of visitors this time of year, the path under the cherry trees along the Tidal Basin is nearly empty as peak bloom approaches March 18, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Ima

Meanwhile, officials also announced today the festival's inaugural Spirit of Spring 5K virtual run and walk, which will be held Nov. 6 through Nov. 15. 

Officials say the Spirit of Spring 5K can be completed by running or walking a 5K distance anytime and anywhere during the above dates. 

Proceeds from the Spirit of Spring 5K will benefit both the 2021 Festival programming and the Trust for the National Mall’s Cherry Tree Endowment, which supports the year-round care and maintenance of the 3,800 cherry trees on the National Mall, in partnership with the National Park Service, according to officials. 

For more details and to register for the Spirit of Spring 5K, visit