It’s springtime in Washington D.C., which means the tourists are flocking to our nation’s capital. It’s around this time of year that the cherry blossom trees are in peak bloom and The National Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. is already underway in celebration. This year, the 2016 festival runs from March 20 through April 17 and features favorite events like the Blossom Kite Festival, fireworks, the parade, and so much more!
How Did the Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. Get Started?
In 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gifted 3,000 cherry trees to Washington, D.C. as a way to honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan. The first trees were planted by First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, the wife of the Japanese Ambassador at the North Bank of the Tidal Basin, which started the tradition of having the first ladies act as the honorary chairs of the Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival. Since the arrival of the first trees, gifts have continued to be exchanged between the two countries; in 1981, the United States gifted Japan with cuttings from the trees to replace ones that had been destroyed in a flood.
The Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the nation’s greatest celebrations of spring. More than 1.5 million people visit Washington, D.C. during the festival to admire the blossoming cherry trees and participate in the special events and activities.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Events
At the 2016 Cherry Blossom Festival, you’ll enjoy a wide variety of cultural and family-friendly events celebrating Japanese history, culture and heritage. These events include everything from Japanese drumming performances, art tours and lectures, charity 5K walks/runs and spectacular fireworks.
The opening ceremonies for the festival took place on March 20 at The Warner Theater with performances from Japanese and American pop and classical artists. Upcoming events through April include the SAAM Cherry Blossom Celebration, which features family-friendly performances and cultural crafts, the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival featuring live music and entertainment, and the 5th Annual Walk for Wishes.
If it’s Japanese culture you’re after, you’ll learn about Japanese-American history at the Touch of Japan event, where you’ll tour the historic house built in 1784 by Richard Bland Lee, sample green tea and make your own fan. You can also attend the Official Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony on April 10 or head to a lecture about Puccini’s beloved opera, Madame Butterfly, and enjoy Japanese-themed afternoon tea afterwards.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
On April 16, The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade presented by Events DC will take place starting along Constitution Avenue. This parade is known as Washington, D.C.’s largest spectator event, and this year features performances from the award-winning hit musical Jersey Boys, pop singer Tiffany and chart-topping artists like Sisaundra Lewis and Raheem DeVaughn. Plus, you’ll enjoy numerous marching bands and local talent!
Don’t miss all of the great cultural events, festivals and performances that help welcome spring to our nation’s capital.
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