Festivals and Holidays
Japan isn't the only place to enjoy cherry blossoms. The US capital puts on a pretty spectacular floral display of its own – thanks to the friendship and generosity of the Japanese people more than 100 years ago.
The Tidal Basin of Washington, DC – home to the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial – has 3,000 cherry trees, which were given the United States in 1912.
They erupt in an explosion of pink and white pedals each spring, attracting visitors from across the nation and around the world. Blooms are usually at the peak of their splendour on 4 April, but it is impossible to give an accurate forecast more than 10 days before blooming starts.
Just as the Japanese Meteorological Agency tracks the Cherry Blossom Front as it moves north, the U.S. National Park Service monitors the development of buds in five stages, giving periodic updates and forecasts. The peak blooming period can vary wildly from year to year.
Blossoms have been known to reach their peak as early as 15 March and as late as 18 April! The peak blooming period starts when 20% of the blossoms have opened and continues until the petals have fallen off and leaves start appearing. It can last as long as two weeks, but frost, unseasonably warm temperatures, strong winds, and/or rain can cut the blooming season short.
The 103rd annual National Cherry Blossom Festival begin in Washington, DC, this year on Friday 20 March, the first day of spring. It will run for 3 weeks over 4 weekends through 12 April 2015. A full programme of events is planned.
The focus will be on gardens, green spaces, parks, and trees. Here is a short list of some of the key celebrations.
Admission is free unless otherwise noted.
Pink Tie Party Fundraiser
Thursday 19 March 2015
Celebrate the blossoms in style at the 9th annual destival fundraiser, one of the biggest social events of the year! Wear your finest "Pink Tie" cocktail attire and enjoy a fabulous evening filled with delicious cuisine, cocktails, live music, dancing, and much more. From 7 to 11 pm. At the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
Saturday 21 March 2015
Welcome springtime to Washington, DC, and celebrate the anniversary of the gift of trees from Japan to the United States. There will be traditional and contemporary performances. From 5 to 6.30 pm. At the historic Warner Theatre at 513 – 13th Street.
Blossom Kite Festival
Saturday 28 March 2015
Kite flying demonstrations and competitions. From 10 am to 4.30 pm. At the Washington Monument grounds (Constitution Avenue and 17th Street).
Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
Saturday 4 April 2015
Eight hours of music, cultural activities, food, and family friendly water-based activities. From 1 to 9 pm (fireworks start at 8.30 pm). At the Southwest Waterfront (600 Water Street).
National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Saturday 11 April 2015
Giant colorful helium balloons, elaborate floats, marching bands, celebrity entertainers, and performers will march down Constitution Avenue at the most colourful spring time parade in the United States. Viewing along the parade route is free. Grandstand seating costs US$20. From 10 am to 12 noon. On Constitution Avenue between 9th and 15th streets.
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