This year’s annual National Cherry Blossom Festival will celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the gift of cherry trees from Tokyo to Washington D.C. The famous Cherry Blossoms have already started to bloom, although the festival didn’t officially began March 20. Get ready for five weeks of events and programs in and around Washington, ranging from arts and culture to world-class entertainment. “No events are moving because of the early peak bloom,” says Danielle Piacente, communications manager for the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
The festival kicked off with the Pink Tie Party fundraiser on March 20. The party featured spring- and cherry-inspired cuisine and cocktails, and a silent auction. Most of the events during the Cherry Blossom Festival will however be free and open to the public. You can also experience spring- and cherry-inspired dishes and cocktails through the festival’s Cherry Picks Restaurant Program —www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/visitor-information/cherrypicks — that includes nearly 100 restaurants who will offer this on their menus.
On Sunday, March 25, the opening ceremony will be at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, presenting performances that tell the story about how the gift of trees turned into the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. This event is free; you just have to register online in advance, at www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/2011/07/15/openingceremony
That same weekend, the National Building Museum presents Family Days, a two-day festival of family entertainment. On March 24, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and March 25, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Family Days features activities such as creating shoji screens and pop-up architecture, dressing up in traditional Japanese costumes and interactive lessons on climate change and energy conservation —www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/2011/07/15/family-days
On March 31, you can have fun and go fly a kite at the Blossom Kite Festival which presents demonstrations of Japanese woodblock printing and painting, kite-making competitions and shows.
From March 31 until April 15, the Sylvan Theater on the Washington Monument Grounds will be the site of more than100 free performances, ranging from hip hop, folk/bluegrass and jazz artists to different dance ensembles. The schedule will be posted online at www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/2011/07/15/sylvanstage.
Another top event worth attending is the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on April 14, with its marching bands, performers, floats and giant balloons. The Parade will run along Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th Streets from 10 a.m. until noon. The festival ends on April 27 with the Petal Fest & Closing Block Party on Woodrow Wilson Plaza.
Georgetown institutions and businesses will also celebrate the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Bacchus Wine Cellar will serve rose wine every night from March 23 through 30, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
On March 22, Tudor Place presents “Hanami, the Art of the Cherry Blossom,” providing a close look at an hanami-themed vase from Japan and exploration of the cherry blossoms in the Tudor Place Gardens and an Asian-themed menu.
Sprinkles Cupcakes will serve a festive, seasonal cherry blossom cupcake throughout the season.
On March 25, the Cherry Blossom Bike Ride & Cycle Expo that benefits the American Diabetes Association will take place in Georgetown, with rides along the Capital Crescent Trail and educational demonstrations and vendors in front of Jack’s Boathouse.
At the Old Print Gallery, there is a special spring exhibition of artwork celebrating the beauty of spring’s blossoms. The exhibition runs through May 11.