Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival
by Chelsea Renfroe
Spring is in the air and that means it is almost time for the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.! This annual event commemorates the occasion when Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gave 3,000 Cherry Blossom Trees to Washington, D.C. as a gift in 1912. The gift and celebration are in honor of the friendship between the United States and Japan.
Over the years, many gifts have been exchanged between the United States and Japan to show the respect both nations have for each other. It has become tradition that the First Lady be the United States’ representative for the festival, which began with First Lady Taft. The festival incorporates parades, cultural activities that represent both countries, and many other unique activities. Today, more than 1.5 million people visit Washington, D.C. to see the blossoming trees and take part in the festivities.
This year, the festival will be held March 20 to April 13, 2014, and it has a variety of activities to make you not want to leave! The festival features a variety of activities including pageantry, educational competitions, music performances and classical acting, and different fitness events from yoga classes to soccer and rugby games. Here are a few of the events that you won’t want to miss out on:
Get ready to kick off the festival with a Community Art Show. District students will display their original art for the city and visitors to see. At night, head on over to the Pink Tie Party fundraiser where you are able to help give back and continue on the legacy of this famous festival. The night will consist of an auction that has prizes from fashion, weekend getaways, dining, concert, and even theatre performances.
Learn true Japanese culture at the Japanese Teas. View the traditional tea ceremony and experience other tea styles, taste delicious tea foods and even take home a Cherry Blossom tea blend. The opening ceremony for the festival is also on March 22. The event offers traditional and contemporary performances at the Warner Theatre. If you have kids, be sure to go to the Family Days events. This two day family festival for kids has crafts, performances, costumes, and much more to teach kids about Japan while having tons of fun!
The Blossom Kite Festival is a favorite among many travelers. This day includes kite making competitions, kite demonstrations, and just plain, good ole kite flying fun!
If you want to learn even more about Japan and all it has to offer, then you need to be at Japanese Culture Day. The day will include origami, Japanese stories will be read in English, visitors can try on kimonos, and much more! Make time to go to the Southwest Waterfront community where there will be music, water-related activities, cultural activities, live entertainment, yummy foods, and fireworks. This is a great day for families that is sure to keep you entertained from start to finish.
The annual Blessing of the Fleet ceremony will be held April 12 at the Navy Memorial. Not only does this event represent pride for the United States, it also is a tribute to the states’ rich maritime heritage. And lastly, it wouldn’t be the festival without the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade! Come view the parade with its floats, giant balloons, bands, and lots of entertainment!
Where to Stay
We know you won’t want to miss this amazing festival, and of course you need a place to stay. These hotels are close to all the activities the festival offers:
The Washington Court Hotel is located in a prime downtown location in Washington, D.C., near Union Station and Capitol Hill, with amazing amenities and an upscale feel. With its preferred location and beautiful views of the Capitol, this hotel is highly sought after.
The Embassy Row Hotel will leave you feeling like royalty as soon as you walk in. With its European style with marble floors and breath-taking architecture, it is a favorite among travelers. Take a swim in the roof top pool or go to the fitness facility to work off some of the festival’s Japanese foods!
Another great option is the Melrose Hotel, located in D.C.’s stylish Georgetown area. Featuring a trendy and romantic style, this hotel offers a variety of amenities and a great location.
Lastly, don’t forget the Capitol Skyline Hotel. This fun retro styled hotel offers a great view of the Capitol, has a unique outdoor area that is best for parties and events, and even has two dining options that have menus full of high quality food.
The Cherry Blossom Festival is an event that you don’t want to miss. From the fun and educational activities to just being in a historical city like Washington, D.C., this festival is always a favorite for all. Get ready to pack your bags and experience Japanese culture like never before!