***The 2014 National Cherry Blossom Festival is scheduled for March 20-April 13.***
The world-famous National Cherry Blossom Festival is so much more than the 3,000 trees blooming around the Tidal Basin. There are plenty of unique ways to enjoy the pink puffs that usher in spring to the nation’s capital. Check out our 10 favorite ideas for enjoying the festival.
10) Get a new view: Most people stroll the sidewalk around the Tidal Basin for a standard view of the cherry blossoms, but you can also see them from an old-school paddleboat, on a Segway or a bike, or even from an Odyssey or Spirit cruise up the Potomac River. Want to stick to walking? Try out the guided Blossom Secrets Stroll from Washington Walks. Or, head to the Key Bridge Boathouse for its special three-hour Cherry Blossom Paddle (April 8-13) and enjoy a paddle past the blossom-lined Georgetown Waterfront, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Memorial and East Potomac Park.
9) Go fly a kite: The sky above the National Mall comes alive with color for a day as professional kiters (yes, that’s a real profession) and amateurs are invited to fly their colorful kites from the base of the Washington Monument at the annual Blossom Kite Festival. If it’s been awhile since you’ve flown a kite, no worries - the event includes kite-flying demos and kite-making for kids. The Blossom Kite Festival is scheduled for Sunday, March 30 (originally scheduled for March 29 but moved due to inclement weather).
8) Dine on a traditional Japanese dish: As an international crossroads, DC is home to exceptional global cuisine, including sushi. A meal at hip Kushi, family-friendly Tono Sushi or date-worthy The Source by Wolfgang Puck at the Newseum would all complement a day of flower festivities. In addition, many restaurants around the city celebrate the blossoms by participating in "Cherry Picks," a program that features cherry-flavored, cherry-infused or cherry blossom-inspired menu items.
7) Enjoy an art exhibition: In conjunction with the centennial celebration, DC’s museums and art galleries host thematic shows. In previous years, kimonos, samurai weapons and traditional Japanese art have all been on display at museums throughout the city.
6) Trace cherry blossom history: The original Japanese delegation to America stayed at The Willard Intercontinental Hotel in 1860. To commemorate this historical link, the grand dame hotel goes all out every year for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, from festooning its famous Peacock Alley with live cherry blossoms and other spring décor to hosting a cherry blossom afternoon tea to serving cherry-inspired cocktails.
5) Find blooms and bonsai at the National Arboretum: While the Tidal Basin blooms draw the biggest crowds, there are other places to experience cherry blossoms. The National Arboretum boasts cherry blossoms, as well as an extensive Asian Gardens collection and the National Bonsai collection. The U.S. Botanic Gardens at the base of the Capitol building is another place to get some solitude with your flowers.
4) Have fun at FREE performances: Every day of the festival includes free performances on the Canon Performance Stage at Sylvan Theatre at the base of the Washington Monument. Entertainment includes a diverse mix of local, national and international acts, from music and dance to martial arts. Festivalgoers can also enjoy music with Jazz at the Jefferson.
3) Top off the day with fireworks: Another kind of color burst will complement the cherry blossoms at the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival. The fireworks display is designed by representatives from the city of Nagaoka, which is renowned in Japan for its fireworks. The daylong festival features three stages of live music, family-friendly water-related activities and cherry-inspired food and beverages.
2) Celebrate with Sakuri Matsuri: The largest Japanese cultural festival in the United States, Sakuri Matsuri Street Festival features food, arts and culture, merchandise, and live traditional and J-Pop performances on four stages, including martial arts and sumo wrestling demonstrations. The day kicks off with the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, which includes helium cherry blossom balloons.
1) See the cherry blossoms: There are more than 3,000 cherry trees that bloom along the Tidal Basin every spring. Their beauty and lasting legacy as a symbol of friendship between Japan and the United States is a true cause for celebration.