How to make the most of D.C.'s Cherry Blossom Festival
Regardless of any belated winter storms, D.C.'s National Cherry Blossom Festival is still in full swing, and as the weather (hopefully) gets warmer, there will be plenty to do during this celebration of Japanese culture and the coming of spring. The Scene picks the coolest events and activities that you should attend before the festival's end on April 14.
Tidal Basin Paddle Boats
When: March 14 to April 21, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Location: Tidal Basin Boathouse - 1501 Maine Avenue, SW Cost: $12 per hour for 2-passenger boats OR $19 per hour for 4-passenger boats
Sure, it costs $12 for one boat ride, but it's worth it. The Tidal Basin is arguably one of the most gorgeous places from which to view the cherry blossoms, and the combination of the paddling along the picturesque water of the Tidal Basin with the aesthetic pleasure of the blossoms makes this activity a must. If you really don't want to spend a cent, there are free online reservations for paddleboats 10 a.m to noon.
Cherry Blast: Art + Music Dance Party
When: March 29, 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Location: 500 Penn St. NE Cost: $10 per person. Buy tickets online.
This multisensory dance party kicks off the Cherry Blossom festival with style, treating guests to DJs, musicians, performance artists and interactive sensory experiences. Sponsored by the Pink Line Project, the 5th annual Cherry Blast Party is held in a 15,000-square-foot space near New York Avenue.
Blossom Kite Festival
When: March 30, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Location: Washington Monument grounds Cost: Free
For one day, the sky around the Washington Monument is filled with kites both handmade and store-bought. This is a family-friendly event, so beware the kids running amok. The festival offers different fields for competitions (for both flying and making kites), families, kite displays and activities. But if you want to avoid the messy lines for registration, head over to the public field, where all attendees are allowed to fly their kites.
Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival 2013
When: April 6, entertainment begins at 1:00 p.m., fireworks at 8:30 p.m. Location: 600-900 Water St. SW (between 6th and 9th Streets) Cost: Free
The U.S. Army and Navy bands perform on the picturesque wharfs of the Southwest Waterfront, where attendees can mill about buying meals from the food carts or learning how to make Japanese lanterns. The fireworks begin at 8:30 p.m., but make sure to get there ahead of time, as the crowds start gathering early in the day.
Sakura Matsuri - Japanese Street Festival
When: April 13, 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Location: 12th Street & Pennsylvania Avenue NW Cost: $5 per person
Get a healthy dose of Japanese culture at the Japanese Street Festival, where parade-goers can enjoy everything from traditional food and merchandise to bubbly J-Pop performances. The mile-long street festival is perhaps one of the most vibrant and colorful of the cherry blossom celebrations, but don't let its whimsical nature deter you; there are some pretty manly martial arts demonstrations.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
When: April 13, 10 a.m. to noon Location: Along Constitution Avenue NW beginning at 7th Street and ending at 17th Street Cost: Free
There's a reason this crowning event of the parade is D.C.'s largest public event of the year. The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade encompasses nearly 10 blocks of pure ecstatic celebration of spring, with giant helium balloons, elaborate floats, marching bands from across the country and performers. Entertainment highlights for this year include Grammy Award-winning artist Mýa, Miss America 2013 and the D.C. Rollergirls.