National Cherry Blossom Festival Celebrates 100 Year Anniversary in Washington DC

Washington DC springs to life as the National Cherry Blossom Festival opens March 20, the first day of spring, and runs to April 27, National Arbor Day.  The Festival commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the gift of trees from Tokyo to Washington, DC with five weeks of events and programs, mostly free and open to the public.

The Festival opens with the signature Pink Tie Party fundraiser, on Tuesday, March 20, hosted by renowned chefs José Andrés and Roy Yamaguchi.  The Opening Ceremony on Sunday, March 25 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, features world-class performances that tell the story of how the gift of trees became one of the nation’s largest springtime celebrations.  The event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required online.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on Saturday, April 14, is aired live on nationally syndicated television, and co-hosted by ABC’s Katie Couric and ABC7’s Alison Starling and Leon Harris with special correspondent Alex Trebek.  The Parade marches down Constitution Avenue with a bevy of exciting performances, lavish floats, giant helium balloons, dance troupes, and more.

Additional signature events that help comprise the 2012 calendar include Family Days on Saturday and Sunday, March 24-25; the Blossom Kite Festival on Saturday, March 31; the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival on Saturday, April 7; and the Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival produced by The Japan-America Society of Washington DC on Saturday, April 14.  Free cultural performances take place at the Canon Performance Stage on the Washington Monument grounds from March 31-April 15, and Jazz at the Jefferson debuts at the Jefferson Memorial from April 19-22.  The Festival ends with the PetalFest & Closing Block Party on Woodrow Wilson Plaza, April 27.

Other local area attractions also get into the Cherry Blossom Festival spirit.  For example, on Friday, April 13th from 6:00 – 11:00PM, the International Spy Museum will hold an after-hours Spy at Night experience themed to the National Cherry Blossom Festival.  SPY will host a ninja performance by Mie Prefecture, JAPAN.  The ninja show is linked to the same prefecture (state) as Mayor Ozaki, a historical figure in the gift of the cherry blossom trees.  The show is available to all.  Those who wish to participate in all that Spy at Night has to offer can purchase tickets for exclusive evening access to the permanent exhibit and immersive experience Operation Spy.  Spy skill challenges, espionage-themed music, and a full bar featuring a special cherry cocktail are also available.  For more details see www.spymuseum.org/experiences/spy-night.

Washington DC visitors can plan a trip to the National Cherry Blossom Festival (and for attendee use in real-time) by downloading a free App for Android and iPhone platforms.  Visit Festival Headquarters in the lobby of The Washington Marriott at Metro Center (775 12th Street, NW) for free information about events and programs and official merchandise.  Festival Welcome Centers are located near the paddle boats at the Tidal Basin and on the Washington Monument grounds.  For more travel news and features, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.