Downtown’s Cherry Blossoms Celebrate 100 Colorful Years

2011 Cherry Blossom Parade

Reign makers: The Cherry Blossom Queens hold court during last year’s parade. (SPakhrin via Flickr)

It’s that time of year again, time for the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Only this time it’s special. Here, let’s let them tell us why:

In 1912, an incredible gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees was bestowed on Washington, DC by Tokyo, Japan. Rooted strongly and surviving outside elements, the trees have withstood the test of time – and nearly a century later, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is preparing for an unprecedented and once-in-a-lifetime celebration.

Once in a lifetime, alright. Only there’ll be no living in a shotgun shack or in another part of the world; you’ll be right in D.C. proper staring out at a very unique – and beautiful – cherry-colored phenomenon.

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This year, the festival will run from March 20 to April 27. (That’s darn near six weeks. Last year, it was two weeks. Are we in for Cherry Blossom season next time out?)

They claim this year’s festival “will unify and electrify the city, the nation, and the world.” The copywriter either had too much caffeine or his full name is Hyp Per Bole. I mean, really. Plus, these people better start learning proper punctuation concerning the term “Washington, D.C.”

Here is where the cherry blossom trees are located. Most of the blossoms will be on the Tidal Basin.

This thing is really chock-full of events, many occurring well before March 20. On the right hand navigation, you’ll see they’re separated into categories.

There are so many events – 150 of them, in fact – that they felt the need to highlight the important Signature events. These include the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, which occurs Saturday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to noon, rain or shine, and Jazz at the Jefferson, which runs from noon to 5 p.m. from April 19 to 22.

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Most events are free to the public; there’s so many, I’m sure the curious renter in D.C. will find something to do.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is headquartered at the Washington Marriott at Metro Center (on the Red, Blue/Orange Lines), and it’s open daily during the festival from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. As you’d expect, there are sponsors galore (Safeway, Canon, Events DC) for this event.

You got your kabuki, your classical music, dance, martial arts exhibitions and a bunch of other Japanese stuff. Come out during this mammoth, area-wide festival and have some fun.