National Cherry Blossom Festival 2013: Highlight Events and Must-Do Activities

Make the most of the celebration by planning your itinerary early.
Photograph by Flickr user robeposse.
Photograph by Flickr user robeposse.

With the peak of the cherry blossom season fast approaching, it’s time to start planning
your National Cherry Blossom Festival itinerary. We’ve rounded up the best events—from
parties to concerts to bike tours—to help you make the most of this year’s celebrations.

Signature Events

Wine and dine at the seventh annual
Pink Tie Party, the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s signature fundraiser, on March 20 at 7 PM
at the Renaissance Mayflower. Chef Lorena Garcia hosts this lively event, which features
more than 35 participating restaurants throughout the metro Washington area. Enjoy
cherry-blossom-inspired cocktails and dishes as you place bids at the evening’s auction
to win anything from a weekend getaway to a unique theater experience. The proceeds
from the silent auction benefit the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Tickets are
$200 and can be purchased online.

Bring your camera to the FDR Memorial along the Tidal Basin, where
Washington Photo Safari is holding clinics and tutorials on how to best shoot the iconic cherry blossoms.
Photography workshops begin on March 20 and are $69 to register. For a full schedule,
visit the website.

Grab the family and head to the
National Building Museum, which presents
Family Days on Saturday, March 23, from 10 AM to 4 PM, and Sunday,
March 24, from 11 to 4. The family-oriented events include
hands-on activities and
inspiring youth performances. Create a cherry blossom popcorn
tree, a spring-themed
pinwheel, and even a wind chime. Admission is free for all
ages.

The third annual
Blossom Kite Festival happens on March 30 from
10 AM to 4:30 PM. Visit the Washington Monument grounds to witness
the amazing creativity of kite-makers and kite-fliers from
across the US and other
countries. The day includes competitions and demonstrations
such as the popular Hot
Tricks Showdown, and Kite Ballets, in which master kite-fliers
set their skills and
expertise to music. The fun-filled day also features a family
field area where you
can learn to fly your kite, and a youth kite-makers
competition. For a full schedule
and weather advisements, visit the website.

The annual
Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival lights up the sky on April 6 from 1 to 9 PM. This event features free music, cultural
experiences, and delicious food. Be sure to visit the Very Cherry Marketplace in Kastles
Stadium, featuring various arts and crafts. This event happens rain or shine. 700
Water St., SW.

Music and Art Events

For a touch of class, head over to the Willard InterContinental for the annual
Cherry Blossom Tea. The Peacock Alley will set the mood with an elegant setting and live koto music.
The event is held March 20 through April 14. For a listing of prices and menu options,
visit the website.

Enjoy an evening of award-winning artists at the Kennedy Center’s
Overtures concert series, presented by the S&R Foundation. Each artist will showcase his or
her personal perspective of the festival’s themes—friendship, springtime, love—through
a variety of instruments and musical endeavors. Performances begin on March 21 and
run until May 31. For a full schedule and ticket information, visit the Overture Series
website
.

Join the Workhouse Arts Center as it presents
Asian Art and Culture Day on April 6 from 11
to 4. Fill your day with demonstrations, performances, workshops
and exhibitions, all highlighting Asian art and culture.
Presenters include Japan-American
Society of Washington, DC and George Mason University. This
event is free and great
for the whole family.

Can’t make the festival this year? Tune into WETA as the station presents the

Washington Cherry Blossoms: Beauty on the Basin
TV program. The 30-minute segment will be repeated throughout the month of March
and into April, and highlights the most beautiful views of the trees. Check your local
listings for scheduled times.

Sample a taste of the East as the area’s top Japanese restaurants gather to bring
you their best bites. Taste of Japan highlights Japanese delicacies, as well as sake and
craft beer from Japanese brewers. The event is on April 4 from 7 to 9 PM at Carnegie
Library. Tickets are $100 per person.

Enjoy and appreciate local students’ artistic creativity at the
Youth Art Contest, where contest winners will
be recognized at the Earth Day Celebration at Union Station
on April 22. Students from DC public and charter schools,
grades K through 12, are
encouraged to participate in this annual contest. The
submission deadline has passed,
but the public can help select the overall contest winners
online or at Union Station
from April 1 through 4.

If you need a break from the outdoors, visit the Smithsonian’s
Museums of Asian Art at the Freer Gallery and check out the Japanese Art Collection. Highlights include
calligraphy from the 8th to the 20th century, folding screens from the 15th to the
19th century, and a collection of textiles.

Fit and Fun Events

If you’re in the mood to stroll and take in some history, join Walk of the Town’s
free walking tours from March 20 until April 14. This three-hour walk guides visitors
past landmarks such as the Washington Monument, the DC War Memorial, the Japanese
Lantern, and the US Capitol. The tour is based on tips, but is well worth unloading
your extra pocket change. Visit the website for more information.

Cruise along the
Mount Vernon Trail from Old Town Alexandria to DC with Bike and Roll DC. The path will continue into
DC and around the Tidal Basin, as bikers take in the pink, red, and white from both
up close and across the Potomac River. Blossoms Tour rides begin March 24 and go until
April 15. Reservations can be made online.

Don’t feel like viewing the cherry blossoms on foot? Grab a friend and explore the
sights in a
paddleboat at the Tidal Basin. Check out the breathtaking views as you slowly ease past the
Jefferson Memorial and cool off on the water. $12 per hour for a two-passenger boat;
$19 per hour for a four-passenger boat. 

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