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The National Cherry Blossom Festival is less than a month away

The festival kicks off on March 20, but an official peak-bloom prediction is still pending

Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin with the Jefferson Memorial in the background

It’s almost that time of year again. The 2019 National Cherry Blossom Festival is scheduled to start on March 20 and run through April 14, according to the annual festival’s organizers.

The National Park Service (NPS), which manages the National Mall and issues forecasts for the famous cherry trees’ “peak bloom” period each year, is anticipated to announce its 2019 prediction on March 6. The festival celebrates the gifting of about 3,000 cherry trees by the then-mayor of Tokyo to the U.S. The trees are predominately located around the Tidal Basin.

Peak bloom usually occurs in late March or early April, but can vary from year to year based on the weather. (Last year, a cold snap pushed back peak bloom into April.) NPS defines the period as the day when 70 percent of the Tidal Basin’s Yoshino cherry trees are open. When 20 percent of the blossoms are open until the leaves appear is called the “blooming period.”

The organizers say the festival now draws more than 1.5 million visitors annually. Tourism in D.C. has gradually been increasing over the past several years, reaching a record 22.8 million visitors in 2017. Currently, an array of special events related to the festival are being planned.