Cherry Blossom Festival Facts:

The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival always brings in huge swarms of visitors from across the country and across the world to Washington D.C. The 2012 Cherry Blossom Festival should be one of the biggest and best years ever.

Here’s a collection of key facts for visitors planning to attend the 2012 National Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C.

* The 2012 Cherry Blossom Festival is a centennial celebration. Japan originally gave 3,000 cherry blossom trees to the United States in 1912.

* The 2012 festival will take place from March 20 through April 27, lasting for five weeks.

* Peak cherry blossom dates can only be predicted, not guaranteed. According to the U.S. National Park Service, the 2012 peak cherry blossom period will be March 24 through March 31, with a blooming period beginning on March 22. The average peak bloom date is April 4. Updated information on expected peak bloom dates can be found online at the festival’s Bloom Watch.

* For comparison, in 2011, green buds were present on February 28, leading to an eventual peak bloom on March 29. This year, green buds became present one day later, on February 29.

* Weather has been unusually warm in Washington D.C. this year though, which could speed up the blooming process. According to the Capital Weather Gang, the average high temperature in Washington D.C. on March 8 is 53 degrees. In 2012, the high on March 8 was 71 degrees.

* The 2012 Cherry Blossom Festival will mark the first year where the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial will be open to the public. The MLK Memorial is located on the Tidal Basin, right in the midst of hundreds of cherry trees, and the incorporation of the trees was a key element of its design.

* There are over 150 events planned for the 2012 National Cherry Blossom Festival. A few highlights include the official opening ceremony on March 25, the Blossom Kite Festival on March 31, the Waterfront Fireworks Festival on April 7, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on April 14. A full listing of events can be found at

* With thousands of tourists in town, getting to the Tidal Basin can be challenging. The peak cherry blossom period is annually one of the D.C. Metro’s busiest times of the year, and parking is also scarce. If possible, consider visiting during a weekday afternoon to avoid some of the crowds. If you’re staying in downtown D.C., consider walking from your hotel rather than trying to find a new parking space or hopping on an overcrowded metro.

This article was first published by Jake Emen on Yahoo! News on March 8, 2012