Can’t-Miss Cherry Blossom Festival Events

Nine ways we’re most looking forward to celebrating Washington’s spring tradition

By: Laura McKenzie

Much like the crowds that descend on the Tidal Basin each spring, the number of blossom-related activities can be overwhelming. For those who don’t have time to attend everything (a.k.a. everyone), we’ve simplified the schedule into nine can’t-miss events. See you there!

Community Cherry Blossom Art Show.
When: March 22 through April 10.
Where: Union Station
As you’re catching a train in or out of Washington, sneak a peak at this free exhibit in the station’s West Gallery. The art showcases work by local students at DC’s public and charter schools, depicting the District as well as the feelings of community and friendship the famous blooms meant to inspire.

Pink Tie Party
When: March 23 at 7 PM.
Where: The Renaissance Mayflower
How much: $150 a person; purchase tickets at the NCBF site.
Expect a cherry on top of everything at this annual fundraiser. Some of the area’s yummiest restaurants are preparing cuisine inspired by the blossoms, including Kushi, 1789, and Masa 14. VIP ticket holders get access to a tasting menu prepared by top chefs as well as top-shelf Champagne. There will also be a live auction, with items including a trip for two to Paris on Open Skies. It’s the perfect excuse to bust out that hot-pink bridesmaid dress or preppy bow tie.

Family Day and Opening Ceremony
When: March 26 from 10 to 3:30.
Where: National Building Museum
How much:
Free.
Kick off the National Cherry Blossom Festival with a range of demonstrations and activities designed to showcase the best talent in Washington. Watch architecture students build 3-D structures out of cans, decorate a miniature kite for the Blossom Kite Festival, make kirigami flowers, and catch performances by the Washington Ballet, Positive Vibrations Youth Steel Orchestra, and more. After the family fun, you can enjoy the Opening Ceremony, which celebrates the traditions associated with the gift of the trees and includes performances by singer Keiko Matsui, Take Dance, and the Washington National Opera’s Young Artists Program’s Madame Butterfly. 4 PM; seating is first come, first served.

Blossom Kite Festival (formerly the Smithsonian Kite Festival)
When: March 27 from 10 to 4.

NOTE: The date for the Kite Festival has been changed to Sunday, April 10.

Where: The Mall
How much: Free.
Go fly a kite at the 44th year of this traditional event. Kids can make a kite of their own, plus there will be kite-fighting demonstrations and lots of beautiful kite showmanship from around the world. Come at the end of the day for the Hot Tricks Shootout, in which pairs of kites compete to score the most tricks in 30 seconds, and the Rokkaku Battle, in which kite fliers fight to cut and ground other kites and only the winner is left in the sky.

Sustainable Sushi Tasting
When: March 30 at 7 PM.
Where: National Geographic Society
How much: $100 a person; get tickets at the NGS Box Office.
Casson Trenor, sustainability expert and founder of San Francisco’s Tataki Sushi Bar, is hosting this lavish dinner. Enjoy seven courses from Genji Sushi featuring sustainable and responsibly farmed fish and shellfish, local produce, and wine and sake. Trenor is also signing copies of his latest book on the subject.

Cherry Blast: Art + Music Dance Party
When: April 2 from 9 PM to 1 AM.
Where: 1701 Florida Ave., NW.
How much: $10 a person; buy tickets at the door.
Produced by the Pink Line Project, this multimedia experience includes music by the Fatback DJs and DJ Chris Nitti, performance artists, Argentine wine, a sake bar, and a make-out room.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
When: April 9 from 10 to noon.
Where: Constitution Ave., between Seventh and 17th sts, NW.
How much: Grandstand seating is $17, but the parade route is free (arrive early to insure a good view).
Finally, a parade you can watch without freezing. There are floats, balloons, marching bands, and more at this festival tradition.

Sakura Matsuri–Japanese Street Culture Festival
When: April 9 from 11 to 6.
Where: 12th St. and Pennsylvania Ave., NW.
How much: Free.
It’s the largest Japanese cultural festival in the United States, complete with lots of food—think sushi, noodles, and barbecue—martial-arts demonstrations, and Japanese pop singers. While you’re there, pick up a baby bonsai tree, Japanese candy, and some manga comics.

Photo Safaris
When: March 26 through April 10.
Where: Tidal Basin

How much: $64 to $69 a person; book a safari at the Web site.
These photography classes are more than just another tour of DC’s landmarks. Learn about travel photography, cherry blossoms, and the technical basics of taking a good photo. There are two options: The Sunrise Safari, from 6:15 to 8 AM, meets at the paddleboat station ($69 a person), and the Afternoon Safaris, from 3 to 5:30 PM, meets at the FDR Memorial bookstore ($64 a person).

For a complete schedule of events, see the National Cherry Blossom Festival Web site.

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