Peak cherry blossom season is almost here.
SEATTLE — One of Seattle’s most popular annual sights is back, as cherry blossom season has returned on the campus of the University of Washington.
For the second straight year, the U District Partnership has brought together over 70 businesses in the area around campus to present the Cherry Blossom Festival between March 24 and April 2.
Here’s everything you need to know before heading to Seattle over the next week for the festival:
Cherry blossom season
Cold weather delayed the blooming of the university’s iconic cherry trees, but the school’s arborist said that they are on track to reach peak bloom at the beginning of April.
Peak bloom is determined by when 70% of blossoms have emerged.
Check out UW’s 24/7 camera that tracks the status of the school’s cherry blossom trees.
For those looking to drive to the U District for the festival, UW recommends those coming on weekdays to park in the Padelford Garage, Lot E01 and Lot E18.
On weekends, the above lots as well as the Central Plaza Garage are the best bets for spots near campus.
The university recommends utilizing public transportation if possible due to traffic congestion.
Bus travelers can use King County Metro’s Trip Planner or Google Maps to plan out their route.
The U District Link Light Rail Station allows passengers to exit directly into the neighborhood on Brooklyn Avenue NE and NE 43rd Street.
The Burke Gilman Trail also can be utilized for walkers, runners, cyclists, skaters and commuters. Take the road exit at University Way NE and travel north to NE 41st Street for the south entrance to the Street Fair.
Food and drink specials
Dozens of U District businesses will be offering discounts and specialty items in connection with the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Call A Chicken, Donut Factory and IJ Sushi Burrito are just some of the establishments offering meal and dessert specials. For a full list of participating restaurants, click here.
People looking to wash down all that food can enjoy drink specials from Boba Up, Leon Coffee House and My Favorite Deli, among many others. For a full list of drink specials available, click here.
For those people of age looking to consume a cocktail during their time in the U District, Big Time Brewery, Ladd and Lass Brewing and Agua Verde Cafe are just some of the spots offering alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink specials. See a full list here.
A helpful map with locations of all of the participating businesses can be found here.
Why are there cherry blossom trees in Seattle?
The trees in the university’s Quad are Yoshino cherry trees and have been on the campus since 1964. The trees were originally planted in 1939 at the Washington Park Arboretum but were moved due to construction.
Japan donated cherry trees to Seattle in the 1930s, but it is hard to know if any of the trees at UW are related to the ones gifted. The 29 trees in the Quad are largely the original 1939 trees, making them over 80 years old. As of March 2022, only three of the cherry trees in the quad had been replaced by newer trees.
The beloved Quad cherry trees are not the only cherry trees visitors can see around UW. The university has nearly 100 cherry trees on its campus. Not all of them are Yoshino trees either. The campus is home to a variety of types of cherry trees, including Higan, Hisakura, Kwanzan, Mt. Fuji and Shirofugen. The different types of cherry trees change the color, size and number of blossoms.