What: An annual celebration commemorating the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, D.C.
Why: This is Washington at its prettiest, and with over five weeks of activities planned there’s plenty to keep visitors of all ages entertained
How: There’s no better time to attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival than this year, which marks the celebration’s 100th anniversary. The festival officially runs from March 20th to April 27th, with event highlights that include:
March 25th: The festival’s Opening Ceremonies, taking place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center from 5-6:30pm.
March 31st: Hundreds of kites take to the skies surrounding the Washington Monument during the Blossom Kite Festival.
April 7th: Starting at 2pm, the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival features live music, family-friendly water activities, and cherry-inspired foods and drinks, and culminates with a fireworks show at 8:30pm.
April 14th: Lavish floats, balloons, marching bands, and more travel down Constitution Avenue during the The National Cherry Blossom Parade from 10am-12:30pm. And from 11am-6pm, Pennsylvania Avenue is home to Sakura Matsuri, the largest Japanese cultural festival in the country, featuring food from 25 restaurants, two Kirin Ichiban beer gardens, and dance, musical, and martial arts performances.
April 19th-22nd: Starting each day at noon, music fans can perch on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial and enjoy free performances and spectacular views of the Tidal Basin during Jazz at the Jefferson.
There are also myriad tours and activities centered around the cherry blossoms. Shutterbugs can take a workshop on travel photography around the memorials, art fans can attend a gallery lecture centered around Japanese bird-and-flower paitings, and amateur botanists can take a self-guided spin around the National Arboretum to see other flowering cherry trees. Exercise enthusiasts should opt for the two-hour Blossoms by Bike tour along the Potomac, and if sitting’s more your speed, climb aboard DC Cruises for a view of the blossoms from the water.