The U.S. capital's annual cherry blossom festival is just around the corner, with enthusiasm surrounding this year's iconic event growing more than ever before, organizers said Thursday.

The national festival, celebrating the 1912 gift of cherry trees from Tokyo to Washington and the longtime friendship between Japan and the United States, will run from March 20 to April 14, with the theme of "Let's Spring Together!"

The National Park Service said this year's cherry blossom peak for the capital is predicted between March 23 and 26.

"We're feeling like this is the all-time highest enthusiasm for this festival to happen," Diana Mayhew, president of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, told Kyodo News following a press event to unveil the peak dates.

People view cherry blossoms in full bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington on March 25, 2023, as the National Cherry Blossom Festival opens the same day. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

She said participation is "more than normal," pointing out that the organizers have seen record registration numbers for volunteers and tickets for major events are selling faster than in past years.

The festival, which dates back to 1927, features a parade, concerts and many other cultural events, and has long been regarded as the kick-off to Washington's tourism season. It has drawn about 1.5 million visitors annually from around the country and the world.

Performers at this year's opening ceremony will include Naotaro Moriyama, a popular Japanese singer known for songs such as "Sakura."

During Thursday's event, Fumito Miyake, minister for public affairs at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, thanked the American people for taking care of the cherry trees so that they have become an integral part of Washington's landscape.

Touching on Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's plan to make an official visit to the U.S. capital in April, Miyake told the audience that it will "add yet another legacy" to the 2024 festival, helping to "further strengthen our relationship and friendship between Japan and the United States."