You know that Spring is finally arriving when Washington D.C.'s more than 3000 cherry trees start to blossom. Between March 20 and April 13 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 102nd annual National Cherry Blossom Festival.
National Cherry Blossom Festival This city- wide 4 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 celebrities appearing at the Festival will be singer Aaron Carter and Miss America 2014 ( Nina Davaluri). There will also be performances by 5 winners from the Festival's local talent competition.
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 trees 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 ambasssador. Those two original trees are still standing today at the south end of 17th Street.
On this 102nd 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 April 8 - 12 this year. Blossoms usually bloom for approximately two weeks.
Cherry Blossom Family Days kicks off the Festival on Saturday, March 22 and Sunday, March 23 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 the Family Day activities are 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Sunday.
An all day event on Saturday, April 5 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 at East Potomac Park.
One of the highlights of the National Cherry Blossom Festival is the parade on Saturday, April 12 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.
Other activities at the National Cherry Blossom Festival include the Blossom Kite Festival (March 29) featuring kite flying competitions, Bike the Sites Tours, a Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony (April 6), a Grand Sake Tasting (April 3 at the Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square, 801 K Street, NW) where you can sample libations from 20 master sake, beer and scochu brewers from Japan.
And be sure to check out the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival (April 12) featuring arts, crafts, live entertainment, demonstrations and food & drink.
Additional activities at the Tidal Basin for visitors include paddle boating, guided city tours of Washington, D.C., cherry blossom cruises and free cherry blossom walking tours with a National Park Service Ranger in addition to free exercise sessions around the city's monuments.
The Fairfax at Embassy Row Hotel in Washington, D.C. is offering a special Cherry Blossom package. The package includes overnight accommodations, a continental breakfast for two each day, 2 one-day METRO passes and overnight valet parking. Rates start at $159 per night. Call 877-44 BLOOM or get online at www.fairfaxhoteldc.com for more information, exact pricing 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 $195- $325 depending on the day and time of the flight.