16 Cherry Blossom Festival Events to Put on Your Calendar

Not-to-miss happenings during the three-week celebration.

By: Carol Ross Joynt

Given the winter that’s slowly losing its grip on us—the official first day of spring is Thursday—it may be difficult to believe we’ll soon enjoy the annual sight of the Tidal Basin ringed in delicate pink cherry blossoms. Despite the worst winter in years, the National Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off this Thursday as planned and runs through April 13. At some point during that span of time—April 8 is predicted—the blossoms will be in full bloom.

Here’s a sampling of some of the most interesting events tied to the festival. A full list is available on the festival’s website.

March 20: Beginning Thursday, book a Tidal Basin paddle boat online. Reservations are restricted to between 10 and noon during the festival. Rates are $14 an hour for two passengers and $22 per hour for four passengers. Boats also are available on a first come, first served basis at the Tidal Basin dock.

March 20: The Pink Tie Party is a semiformal fundraiser that helps support the festival. Tickets are $200, and the party goes from 7 to 11 at the Ronald Reagan Building.

March 21: The Environmental Film Festival hosts a film and discussion event aimed to “make DC the greenest, healthiest, and most livable city in the nation.” The program, introduced by DC Mayor Vincent Gray, includes two short films. See it for free from 6 to 7:30 at the Carnegie Institution for Science.

March 22: Attend a Japanese tea ceremony and tasting to learn about the Japanese tradition. 1 to 3 at the Colvin Run Historic Site in Great Falls, Virginia.

March 22: The National Cherry Blossom Festival opening ceremony is free and open to the public; tickets are no longer available, though walk-ins will be accepted if there are no-shows. Walk-ins should arrive at the Warner Theatre by 4:45. The program runs from 5 to 6:30.

March 23: The Cantate Chamber Singers perform Curlew River,” a work based on the ancient Japanese Noh play Sumidagawa at All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church at 2300 Cathedral Avenue. The performance begins at 4, and tickets are $35 to $45.

March 29 and 30: The Cherry Blossom Soccer Tournament runs from 8 AM to 2 PM at the Polo Fields of West Potomac Park. It is free.

March 29: The Blossom Kite Festival runs from 10 to 4:30 at the Washington Monument grounds and is free.

March 29: Cherry Blast: Art + Music Dance Party is described as a “multisensory” experience and will be held at the Blind Whino SW Art Club from 7 to midnight, featuring several deejays and performers. Tickets are $15, and you must be at least 21 to attend.

April 3: The Carnegie Library hosts a grand sake tasting featuring master brewers from Japan and their products, including sake, shochu, and beer. It runs from 7 to 9; tickets are $100 for general admission and $150 for VIP admission.

April 5: The 48th annual Cherry Blossom Rugby Tournament goes from 8 to 5 at Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, Maryland. It is free.

April 5: The Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival offers eight hours of live music, activities, food, and, of course, fireworks. The program begins at 1, with fireworks at 8 (rain or shine).

April 9: Blossoms and Baseball is a festival-sponsored night at Nationals Park when the Nats play the Florida Marlins. Discounted tickets are available. The game begins at 7.

April 10: The Cherry Blossom Princess Luncheon is a meal and fashion show with the festival “royalty”—queens and princesses—at the Renaissance Hotel from 11:30 to 1. Tickets are $60 for adults and $25 for children.

April 11: The Cherry Blossom Ball and crowning of the 2014 US Cherry Blossom Queen goes from 6 to midnight at the Renaissance Hotel. Tickets are $150 for adults and $75 for children ages 12 and under. The dinner menu includes sushi.

April 12: The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade runs from 10 to noon along Constitution Avenue between Seventh and 17th streets. Grandstand seats are available for purchase; standing along the parade route is free.