Five things to do during the Cherry Blossom Festival
The Eagle’s guide to DC’s annual tradition
Every spring, tourists flood the Tidal Basin in downtown D.C. in hopes of catching a glimpse of the city’s pride and joy: the Japanese cherry blossoms. This year marks the 105th year that the cherry blossoms have bloomed in our nation’s capitol.
In 1912, the mayor of Tokyo gifted Japanese cherry blossom trees to the city of Washington, D.C. The trees have since commemorated Japanese culture and have celebrated the coming of spring. The cherry blossom festivities date back to the 1920s; however, the numerous events that take place in celebration of the cherry blossom trees have increased over the years and have become a D.C. tradition. Here are some insights into the highly anticipated cherry blossom events in the coming weeks.
The Festival’s seventh annual kite competition encourages creativity by allowing people to create their own kites and test them at the site of the Washington Monument. While kites can be store bought or homemade, they can also be crafted at activity stations located near the monument on the day of the event.
When: April 1 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Rain date: April 2)
Where: Grounds of the Washington Monument at the National Mall
Metro: Blue, Orange or Silver Line, Smithsonian Station
The annual parade presented by Events DC will showcase performances by local school bands, dance teams, celebrities and more. Singer and television personality, Drew Lachey, along with country singer, Jo Dee Messina, are two of the many famous faces parade onlookers can expect to see. The parade also displays cultural showcases, such as a performance by the Natyabhoomi School of Indian Classical Dance. The festivities will travel the length of Constitution Avenue, however, a great place to watch the parade is at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Constitution Avenue. This area is also in close proximity to Penn Quarter, home to the National Archives, as well as many popular D.C. restaurants and bakeries, such as Jaleo and Paul.
When: April 8 from 10 a.m. to noon
Where: Along Constitution Avenue, from 7th street to 17th street
Metro: Yellow or Green Line, Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter Station
The festivities continue April 15 at the Southwest Waterfront, with a day-long celebration, presented by Harris Teeter, ending the evening with a fireworks celebration. Afternoon activities and festivities at the District Wharf include face painting and body painting, cornhole with DC Fray, music giveaways with HOT 99.5, live music and a food truck rally.
In the evening, the festivities will transfer over to the Waterfront Park where more hands-on crafts, such as making your own t-shirt and glow in the dark activities will take place, as well as live music. The fireworks display over the water will round off the day, a Cherry Blossom Festival tradition. Washington D.C.’s Southwest Waterfront is also home to the Main Avenue Fist Market, the Washington Marina and fine dining. Fireworks and food by the water is a perfect way to end the evening.
When: April 15
Where: District Wharf (690 Water St. NW) & Waterfront Park
Metro: Green Line, Waterfront Station
The Kennedy Center will feature a performance by Japanese-American pianist, Rachel Kudo. Kudo is an accomplished Juilliard graduate, who is classically trained on the piano. While Kudo plans to perform pieces by well-known composers, such as Beethoven and Mozart, her performance will also honor Japanese culture. The Kennedy Center has worked with the Embassy of Japan and the Japan Information & Culture Center to make this free concert an integral part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
When: April 17 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: The John F. Kennedy Center Millennium Stage
Metro: Orange or Blue Line, Foggy Bottom/George Washington University Station
The pop-up Cherry Blossom Pub, created by the team behind D.C.’s pop-up Christmas Bar, has become D.C.’s newest attraction. The bar was created in dedication to the festival. The theme is a mix of pink and cherries with a twist: Super Mario Brothers. One of its popular drinks is called the Neko Colada, the owner’s Super Mario take on a traditional Piña Colada.
The bar is located in D.C.'s Shaw neighborhood. While Shaw is not a traditionally “touristy” neighborhood, it is known for its cultural appeal and is an up-and-coming D.C. locale. Additionally, venturing out of the National Mall area might ease congestion in the city and give visitors something to do other than take Instagram-worthy photos with Jefferson and the cherry blossoms.
Where: 1841 7th St. NW
Metro: Yellow or Green Line, Shaw-Howard University Station