Cherry Blossom Best Bets

The National Cherry Blossom Festival can be overwhelming—in addition to the gorgeous trees, there’s a myriad of events to choose from. Here are some of my favorites.

If the weather stays warm, little is more romantic than an evening stroll among the cherry trees lining the Tidal Basin. Every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday through April 15, you can take a two-hour tour guided by US Park Service rangers through the cherry blossoms. They’ll provide a Japanese lantern for light, but you can also bring a flashlight for illumination. The walk covers about 1.5 miles and starts at 8 pm. Meet at the Tidal Basin Paddle Boat parking lot (1501 Maine Avenue, SW). Park Service rangers conduct other types of tours, including daytime walking tours and bike tours, throughout the festival. Check those out here.

If it’s Japanese, it’ll be at the Sakura Matsuri festival, the popular Japanese street festival taking place April 14, 11 am to 6 pm, on Pennsylvania Avenue between 10th and 14th streets. Everything from Japanese beer gardens to arts and crafts to Japanese pop groups to Dance, Dance Revolution will be there.

Rugby doesn’t exactly put one in mind of Japan, but that’s no reason to pass up a chance to watch it. The 41st Annual Cherry Blossom Rugby Tournament takes place at the Rosecroft Raceway (6336 Rosecroft Dr, Fort Washington, MD) April 7 and 8. The days will be full of local and national men’s and women’s teams. Go out and root for your favorite.

If you just can’t get enough anime, the Fifth Annual National Cherry Blossom Festival Anime Marathon on April 14 at the Freer Gallery is for you. Four anime films will show throughout the day, and anime director Satoshi Kon will be on hand to discuss two of his films. The DC Anime Club will also present an interactive display of the evolution of anime fandom throughout the day—and that means awesome anime costumes. Tickets for all films will be available on a first-come, first-served basis (limit of two per person) beginning at 10:30 am. You also can take an anime workshop at the Freer at 1 and 3 pm April 14 and 15.

For the fashion-minded or simply seekers of beauty, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (1330 Maryland Ave., SW) is hosting an exhibit of intricate, gold-threaded kimonos. Dates and times of the exhibit can be found here.

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