You know that Spring has arrived when Washington, D.C.'s more than 3000 cherry trees start to blossom. Between March 20 and April 14 visitors can watch the thousands of delicate pink-white blossoms burst into bloom at the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, at Hains Point in East Potomac Park and around the grounds of the Washington Monument at Washington, D.C.'s 101st annual National Cherry Blossom Festival.
National Cherry Blossom Festival This city-wide 5 week event features more than 200 international performances and over 90 other special events that include music, dance, sports, martial arts demonstrations, exhibits and cuisine in various locations. Among the musical performers will be the Nen Daiko Taiko Drummers, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, Mya, Elliot Yamin from "American Idol", GYMKANA from "America's Got Talent" and the Shizumi Komodo Dance Troup.
A Bit of History About the Cherry Trees As a gift of friendship, the people of Japan sent 3020 cherry trees to the United States in 1912. The first two tree were planted on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin by the First Lady, Helen "Nellie" Herron Taft and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador. Those two original trees are still standing today at the south end of 17th Street.
On this 101st anniversary of the gift from Japan, there are 12 species of cherries and approximately 3750 cherry trees planted.
Peak of the blossoming cherry trees is predicted to be March 26 -30 in 2013. Blossoms usually bloom for approximately two weeks.
Cherry Blossom Family Days kicks off the festival on Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24 featuring numerous family-friendly, hands-on activities, interactive art demonstrations and live performances. Taking place at the National Building Museum (401 F. Street, NW), hours for Family Days activities are 10 a.m - 4p.m on Saturday and 11 a.m. - 4 p.m on Sunday.
An all day event on Saturday, April 6 is the annual Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival. Various activities and entertainment start at 1 p.m. with the fireworks beginning at 8:30 p.m. The best viewing of the fireworks bursting over the Potomac River is at the Southwest Waterfront Promenade located at 600 Water Street SW or at East Potomac Park.
One of the highlights of the National Cherry Blossom Festival is the parade on Saturday, April 13 from 10 a.m. - noon. The parade goes on regardless of weather. Grandstand seating is $20 per person but you can stand for free along the parade route on Constitution Avenue from 7th Street to 17th Street. Arrive early for the best views.
The parade will have giant helium balloons, intricate floats, marching bands and musical performers.
Other activities at the National Cherry Blossom Festival include the Blossom Kite Festival (March 30) featurinbg kite flying competitions, demonstrations and kite making for children and the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival (April 13) featuring arts, crafts, live entertainment, demonstrations and food and drink.
Additional activities at the Tidal Basin for visitors include paddle boating, guided city tours of Washington, D.C. and free cherry blossom walking tours with a National Park Service Ranger.
The Fairfax at Embassy Row Hotel in Washington, D.C. is offering a special Cherry Blossom Spring package from now through April 30. The package includes overnight accommodations and as an added treat, guests will receive an actual cherry tree. Rates start at $179 per night. Call 800-325-3589 or get online at www.fairfaxhoteldc.com for more information or to make reservations.
It is 373 miles from Cleveland to Washington, D.C., approximately a 6.5 hour drive. Airfares on United for non-stop flights from Cleveland to Washington, D.C. are currently averaging $308 -$465 depending on the day and time of the flight.