Nothing says it’s springtime in the DC area like the National Cherry Blossom Festival. This annual event commemorates the gift of the cherry blossom trees from Japan to the United States as well as the enduring friendship between the two countries. It is also a time to marvel at the beautiful blooms, celebrate and participate in dozens of fun activities and events. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is scheduled for March 20 to April 27.
Family Days presented by the National Building Museum
401 F St. Northwest
Washington, DC 20001
Date: March 24
Hours: Sat – 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sun – 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Kids of all ages will enjoy the hands-on activities and events at the National Cherry Blossom Festival Family Days event, presented by the National Building Museum. Stretched over two days, parents and children alike can participate in interactive demonstrations, catch indoor and outdoor performances and learn more about the beauty of Japanese art. The National Building Museum presents exhibitions and collections devoted to the built environment — everything from architecture to community design to the structural design of the nation’s capital. Be sure to stop by the Lego Architecture exhibit, which features 15 buildings built entirely out of Legos, as well as the Building Zone, an interactive area directed at children ages two to six.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
801 Mt. Vernon Pl. Northwest
Washington, DC 20001
Date: March 25
Hours: 4 p.m. pre-show; 5 p.m. opening ceremony
At the National Cherry Blossom Festival opening ceremony, guests will learn about the history of the cherry blossom trees, listen to the sounds of renowned international artists and participate in interactive, multisensory activities. The event features cultural exhibits, strolling musicians performing traditional and contemporary music, as well as ceremonial remarks from international dignitaries, local city officials and festival organizers. Visit the opening ceremony website for an up-to-date listing of the event’s featured performers and to request tickets via the online ticket reservation system.
Blossom Kite Festival
The Grounds of the Washington Monument
2 15th St. Northwest
Washington, DC 20007
Date: March 31
Hours: 10:30 a.m.
Grab your kite and head on down to the grounds of the Washington Monument where you and hundreds of other kite-flying enthusiasts will take kites of all shapes, colors and sizes to the skies. If you don’t have a kite, head down to the monument grounds early and make a kite with your children, while supplies last. Other exciting events include a variety of competitions and demonstrations, a showdown of skills and tricks featuring talented kite flyers and makers and the popular Rokkaku kite battle, a competition in which participants launch six-sided kites into the sky. The last kite standing, so to speak, is the winner.
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Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
600 Water St. Southwest
Washington, DC 20024
Date: April 7
Hours: 2 p.m.
This family friendly event features three stages with national and international musical performances, fun and educational water-related activities, delicious cherry-inspired food and drinks, and a huge fireworks display at the end of the night, rain or shine. Learn more about participating community organizations and businesses, have your face painted or purchase festival merchandise. Visit the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival website for up-to-date information on featured performers and guests.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Constitution Ave. from 7th to 17th St.
Price: $20 per person grandstand; free standing
Date: April 14
Hours: 10 a.m.
No festival is complete without a parade. Watch marching bands, musical and theatrical performers, enormous helium balloons and beautifully decorated floats march down Constitution Avenue, rain or shine. Last year’s parade featured military and police units, motorcycles, drummers, flag carriers, a 480-member tap dance team, swing dancers, cherry blossom balloons and much more. There is plenty of room to stand and enjoy the parade along the parade route, but arrive early for the best views. Grandstand seating is also available through Ticketmaster.
Susan Diranian is a freelance writer living in Ashburn, VA. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.