Those were, in fact, snow flurries this morning, but the National Cherry Blossom Festival coming March 20 to celebrate spring, cherry blossoms and the culture of Japan from March 20 through April 14 at festivities throughout the city. The list of events is very large, so the Georgetowner has selected some of its favorites.
Overtures: S&R Foundation Artist Concert Series
Experience award-winning artists at Overtures: S&R Foundation Artist Concert Series. Overtures is a unique series that features world-class performing artists at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Evermay. The performances will showcase each artist’s perspective of the National Cherry Blossom Festival – be it springtime, friendship or love of country – through their instrument and music.
March 21: Ori Kam, Viola, at Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center ($30)
March 31: Andy Akiho, Steel Drum, at Millennium Stage, Kennedy Center (Free)
April 1: Yu Kosuge, Piano, at Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center ($30)
April 4 : Keiko Matsui, Jazz/Trio, at Evermay ($50)
April 7: Urban Tango Trio at Millennium Stage, Kennedy Center (Free)
May 17 & 24: Soichi and Kaori Muraji, Guitar Duo, at Evermay ($50)
May 29: The Overtures Chamber Music Project, at Evermay
May 30: The Overtures Chamber Music Project, Kennedy Center Family Theater
May 31: Ryo Yanagitani, Piano, at Family Theater, Kennedy Center (Free)
National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony
Kick-off the 2013 National Cherry Blossom Festival with local and national entertainment. Guests will experience the story of how Japan’s gift of cherry trees has developed into a great springtime celebration, as told through a series of traditional and contemporary performances.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony with be held on March 23 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 PM at the Warner Theatre, 513 13th St., NW, Washington, D.C., 20004.
Blossom Kite Festival
The annual Blossom Kite Festival presented by the National Cherry Blossom Festival showcases the creativity of kite makers and skill of kite fliers from across the U.S. and other countries through a variety of competitions and demonstrations including the popular Hot Tricks Showdown and the Rokkaku Battle. Bring your own kites or children can make a kite at an activity station (while supplies last) to fly on the Public Field.
The Blossom Kite Festival includes five areas to enjoy: the Competition & Demonstration Field, Family Field, Kite Club Display Area, Activity Tents and Public Field. To view a map of the areas, click here.
Official Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony
Jointly sponsored since 1954 by National Conference of State Societies and the National Park Service’s National Capital Region, this venerable observance opens the NCSS Cherry Blossom Princess festivities. The ceremony features traditional Japanese music, the presentation of the 2013 United States and Japan Cherry Blossom Queens, along with the 2012 Cherry Blossom Princesses, and remarks by a number of dignitaries, including the Ambassador of Japan to the United States.
The Japanese Stone Lantern was carved nearly four centuries ago to honor the Third Shogun of the Tokugawa period. It stands 8.5 feet tall and weighs 4,000 pounds. In 1954, the lantern was moved from Japan and presented to Washington, D.C., as a gift commemorating the 100th anniversary of the first treaty between the two countries. Since then, the Stone Lantern has been lit once each year by the Cherry Blossom Princess representing the Embassy of Japan—and only during the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Parking at the Tidal Basin is limited. The nearest Metro stop to the Lantern site is the Smithsonian station, just across the Kuntz Bridge. Seating for more than 500 will be available.
The National Conference of State Societies established the Cherry Blossom Princess Educational and Cultural Exchange Program for the first post-World War II National Cherry Blossom Festival in 1948. NCSS is the only civic organization that has sponsored National Cherry Blossom Festival events every year since then.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
The 2013 National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade is Saturday, April 13 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, rain or shine. One of D.C.’s largest spectator events, the parade runs along Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th streets, NW, and is televised live.
Vibrant costumes and blossom-inspired décor create the look of nation’s premier springtime parade. The parade includes colorful helium balloons, elaborate floats, marching bands from across the country and other performers.