Every spring in D.C., approximately 3,700 Japanese cherry trees bloom bright pink and white. This year, the National Park Service declared peak bloom, when 70 percent of the blossoms are open, on March 23.
Gifted by the mayor of Tokyo in 1912 as a demonstration of the growing, strong relations with the U.S., the cherry blossoms are a popular D.C. attraction for tourists and locals alike. The majority of the trees are around the Tidal Basin by the Jefferson Memorial, where the National Cherry Blossom Festival is ongoing through April 16. The festival includes various events of entertainment, food and music.
Here are some events to keep an eye out for in the next few weeks.
The annual opening ceremony will be held downtown on March 25 at the Warner Theater. The event will feature performances by Japanese artists such as the dance group Travis Japan and duo Anna Sato x Toshiyuki Sasaki. The ceremony will be hosted by Yoshi Amao, a Japanese comedian and game show host, and Veronica Johnson of WJLA’s 7News.
Blossom Kite Festival
The Blossom Kite Festival will take place on March 26 and feature friendly kite flying competitions for both adults and youth. The flying will take place at the Washington Monument Grounds as well as various parks in all eight wards of D.C. Winners of each category will receive a prize.
Tidal Basin Welcome Area Performances
There are performances hosted at the Tidal Basin every day from March 18 to April 2 during the festival to “celebrate the longstanding friendship between the U.S. and Japan with a dynamic, cross-cultural mix of American, Japanese, and other performing arts,” according to the festival’s website. Entertainers include dancers, singers, live music and more. American University a cappella group Pitches Be Trippin’ will be performing on April 2.
Several museums in D.C. are displaying exhibits related to the cherry blossoms and Japanese culture during the festival. The National Museum of Asian Art will host a special day on April 1 with performances, tours and arts and crafts activities. The National Gallery of Art will also host a First Saturday on April 1 to celebrate the arrival of spring and the cherry blossoms. The program features art-making, films and musical performances.
On April 8, art, music and entertainment will fill the banks of the Anacostia River. Attractions include interactive art installations through the Petalpalooza Art Walk, entertainers and a fireworks show later in the evening.
Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony
The Japanese Stone Lantern was given to the district in 1954 as a gift to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States’ first treaty with Japan. It is lit once a year by the Cherry Blossom Princesses, one from each U.S. state and territory. On April 9, the lighting ceremony will take place at the lantern’s site on the Tidal Basin. The official crowning of the 2023 Cherry Blossom Queen is on April 14 through a random wheel spin.
Japanese Street Festival
The Japan-American Society of Washington DC presents the annual Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival on April 15 and 16. The festival features two days of Japanese cultural performances and a diverse range of cultural exhibitors, vendors of traditional and contemporary Japanese goods and Japanese food and beverages.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
The April 15 National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade closes out the month-long celebration with a bang. Colorful balloons, floats and marching bands fill the streets of Constitution Avenue NW between 7th and 17th Streets. Performances are confirmed by multi-platinum selling group C+C Music Factory and rapper Freedom Williams. TV personality Carson Kressley will provide commentary.
The BloomCam is a 24-hour live stream of the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin, in partnership with the NPS and Earthcam. It offers year-round views of the trees and their seasonal changes.
Adopt a Cherry Tree
The Trust for the National Mall partnered with the National Cherry Blossom Festival to launch the Adopt a Cherry Tree Campaign with a goal of raising over $3.7 million to care for the 3,700 trees and to create a maintenance fund to care for the trees all year long. Anyone has the option to adopt a cherry tree and donate to the expensive upkeep of the ecosystem. The cost is $25 for a bud, $100 for a blossom, $500 for a branch, and $1,000 to adopt a whole tree.
This article was edited by Gabe Castro-Root, Jordan Young and Nina Heller. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis, Sarah Clayton, and Luna Jinks.