As the dreary winter weather bids Washington its final adieu, the Cherry Blossom Festival lifts the spirits of residents and visitors who come to enjoy the official bloom of spring.
The first day of the festival, March 26, features a number of events and celebrations around town.
Go on a three-mile Cherry Chit-Chat Run around the mall, starting at the Washington Monument, 8 a.m.
Family Day at the National Building Museum is a festival in itself for “kids of all ages.” A number of hands-on activities as well as live music will celebrate and explore Japanese arts and design.
Taking sail at three times throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday, Cherry Blossom River Teas features a full service English ‘high tea’ aboard a classic yacht while cruising by the blossoms. Serving soups, tea sandwiches, scones and teas, the cruise sets off at Washington Maria.
Hear the music of spring floating through the air at Eastern Market as the sounds of springtime jazz, world-beat, Americana, classical, and spoken word accompany Eastern Market’s foods, arts and crafts.
From Eastern Market, jump on the metro and head over to the Smithsonian for the Blossoms Secrets Stroll taking place from 2 – 4 p.m. The walking tour recounts the story and sites of how the Japanese cherry trees came to Washington.
The Opening Ceremony, officially kicking off the Festival, will take place at the Building Museum immediately following Family Day at 4 p.m. A number of performances, including Takehiro Ueyama’s TAKE dance company will start the 16-day citywide celebration.
Monuments-by-Moonlight River Cruises close out the opening day celebrations from the Washington Marina at 7:30 – 9:15 p.m. and 9:30 – 11:15 p.m.
But the Festival continues. Travel to Japan Saturday and Sunday at the Freer Gallery of Art and learn about the art’s importance in Japanese culture past and present. 1 p.m.
The Blossom Kite Festival on the Washington Monument Grounds takes flight March 27, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Enjoy the cool spring air at night with a Lantern Walk guided by the light of festive lanterns as rangers guide an evening stroll around the Tidal Basin. The walks take place Saturday and Sunday from 8 – 10 p.m. at the Paddle Boat Station.
Starting on the 26 and continuing through the end of the festival, a number of farms and gardens open their doors for visitors to encounter the beauty of nature in full bloom. River Farm and Green Spring Garden in Alexandria along with Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna all welcome Festival visitors with a free memento.
An array of diverse talent takes the stage at Sylvan Theater throughout the Festival. Varied genres of music and dance, martial arts exhibitions and marching bands will be featured from 12 – 5 p.m. on weekdays, and 12 – 6 p.m. on the weekends.
Macy’s Metro Center Cherry Blossom Show will host two weeks of in-store special events, including musical and dance performances, fashion presentations and cooking demonstrations.
The Hillwood Museum Estate and Gardens hosts Paul MacLardy, co-author of “Kimono, Vanishing Tradition” and owner of Arise Bazaar, as he presents a brief overview of Japanese kimono traditions, history, textiles, and symbolism. Followed by a trunk show in Hillwood’s Museum Shop. April 2, 2 – 3:30 p.m.
Silver Springs’s Big Cherry Block Party, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. in downtown Silver Spring features a number of art and craft booths, entertainment, food and karaoke.
If you cant make it to Silver Spring, hang around the Potomac and Anacostia rivers for DISC Cherry Blossom Regatta. The sailboat races can be viewed from the water aboard the M/V Patriot II, which will be offering a Cherry Blossom Regatta cruise.
Head down to Gangplank Marina at 2 and 4 p.m. everyday throughout the Festival for a relaxing cruise down the Potomac around Hains Point for a fantastic view of the trees. Then on April 2 jump on board for a dinner cruise where you can catch the fireworks.
The Festival Fireworks Show will light up the sky on April 2 from Waterfront Park. Best viewing of the show can be found at Southwest Waterfront promenade or East Potomac Park. 8:30 – 9 p.m.
The Parade, which runs down Constitution Ave from 7th to 17th Streets, closes out the festival April 9, 10 a.m. – noon. Catch a glimpse of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands and performers as they make their way down the route.
With a number of other events going on throughout the festival (March 26 – April 10 in its entirety) it is hard to not catch the blossom bug.
Visit NationalCherryBlossomFestival.org for more information on all the festivities.