National Cherry Blossom Festival Paints the Town Pink
We cover the event annually, this paean to all things cherry blossomy and Japanese. And this year is no different.
The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., is a several-week celebration whose roots were planted way back in 1912, when Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo, Japan, gifted Washington, D.C., with 3,000 cherry trees as a symbol of friendship between the two countries (they tried this once before in 1910, but the 2,000 trees sent had to be eradicated due to disease).
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As always, the organization has a loaded website espousing all things cherry. The event, presented by Events DC, is taking place March 20-April 12; a theme this year is “Our Natural World.”
There are tons of events at this year’s festival, and if you want to view them all, take a gander at the site. We’ll highlight a few anyway.
On March 21, the National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony takes place at Warner Theatre from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tickets are free, but if you buy online, you’ll be hit with a $5 processing fee (walk-ins will be able to attend up until 4:45 p.m., if seats are still available).
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On March 28, the Blossom Kite Festival returns to the National Mall. On the grounds of the Washington Monument, come watch a competition or bring your own kite to fly; this is a free event.
On April 11, the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade takes place from 10 a.m. to noon, the callithump proceeding down Constitution Avenue between 7th and 17th Streets, N.W. Standing along the route from 9th Street to 15th Street is free, but grandstand tickets from 15th to 17th will cost you $20 or $27 a pop (tykes under two can sit on your lap for free).
That same day, stay for the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival, the largest one-day Japanese cultural festival in the United States. This lively event, taking place between 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., between 9th-14th Streets, features more than 50 cultural groups, food, vendors and 30-plus hours of performances on four stages. Tickets are $8 if purchased in advance, $10 online the day of the festival or if purchased at the gate, and $5 after 3 p.m.; children 12 and under get in free.
A new event this year is the Anacostia River Festival on April 12, from noon to 4 p.m. at Anacostia Park. This free event will celebrate all things Anacostia River: her ecology, history, and the people living and working next to her. There will be musical performances, tours and hands-on art and boating workshops.
You’d think a festival of this size has lots of sponsors, and you’d be right. It reaches out to the suburbs, too. All of the events I’ve listed are near a Metrorail stop, so getting there should not be a problem. And the site itself is flush with maps.
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