A New Vision Of Spring: Washington DC Cherry Blossom Festival
The National Cherry Blossom Festival of Washington DC heralds the arrival of spring in the country. An annual three-week long, city-wide event, the festival showcases the 3,000 plus varieties of cherry trees. The event is a celebration of the continued close relationship between United States and Japan. In fact, it was on March 27, 1912 that Mayor Ozaki donated the trees in an effort to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan. The National Cherry Blossom Festival attracts numerous visitors from all across the world.
The first National Cherry Blossom Festival was held in 1935 under the joint sponsorship of numerous civic groups. It was in 1994 that the Festival was expanded to two weeks to accommodate the numerous cultural activities which are organized during the trees’ blooming. Today, the National Cherry Blossom Festival features more than 200 international performances and over 90 other special events. The National Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off the busy tourist season in Washington, DC and has something to offer for people from all age groups.
With more than 3,000 blossoms serving as a backdrop around the Tidal Basin, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is held from March 20 to April 13. The average peak bloom is the day when 70% of the blossoms of the Yoshino cherry trees around the Tidal Basin are open. The peak bloom date for the past twenty-one years has been March 31. However, this year the forecast is that the peak bloom date will fall between April 8 and April 12 due to the brutal winter in the D.C. area.
As far as accessing Washington DC is concerned, the city is well connected via air. However, getting around the city can be challenging, especially on the weekends when the festival is on. Parking is limited in the city, so the best way to get to the Tidal Basin and the National Mall is by public transportation.
The two-week festival begins with a Family Day and an official opening ceremony in the National Building Museum. This followed by the Blossom Kite Festival, formerly known as the Smithsonian Kite Festival over the weekend. On the second Saturday, a three-stage festival takes place on the Southwest Waterfront. The next morning, the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run begins on the grounds of the Washington Monument. This is followed by the ceremonial lighting of the 360-year old Japanese stone lantern, later in the day. On the concluding weekends, the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade takes place along Constitution Avenue, after which the largest Japanese Cultural Festival in the United States is inaugurated at 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest.
Some of the must do events at the National Cherry Blossom Festival are:
- Go out for a picnic early in the morning to enjoy the breath taking views and for some splendid photographs.
- View the Jefferson Memorial and Japanese Cherry Trees from the water by paddle boating. You can also opt for a cruise.
- Take a free tour with a National Park Service Ranger and learn about the history of the cherry blossom trees.
- Enjoy a bite at one of the many restaurants around the city. They add cherries to many of their recipes during the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
To enjoy and witness spring in its true essence, coupled with some excellent photography, do plan a trip to Washington around the Cherry Blossom Festival. The trip will surely be a unique experience!