Cherry Blossom 100th Anniversary Festivities

Photo Courtesy of the National Cherry Blossom Festival

Paying tribute to the 100-year anniversary of Japan’s gift of 3,000 cherry trees to DC, an unprecedented spectacular begins March 20, the first day of spring.  The peak bloom prediction of the blossoms is March 24 – 31, but the Festival itself will last for five week.  They have so many wonderful family events (the majority are free or very cheap!) that I thought I would share some of our top picks!

Be sure to visit one of the 240 Capitol One Bank locations in DC to pick up your free Petal Pass that gives you exclusives discounts and offers from participating businesses.  For those of you with an iPhone or Android, you can download Festival’s free mobile app that gives you up-to-date information on events, news, information, and more.   {Also, be sure to follow Overtures Series on Twitter for a chance to win tickets to the Cherry Blossom Gala Dinner Cruise and Pink Tie Party.}

National Cherry Blossom Festival Family Days
Date: March 24 & 25, 2012
Time: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Location: National Building Museum – 401 F Street, NW
Cost: FREE
Description: Join the National Building Museum and the National Cherry Blossom Festival in celebrating for two days of family fun. The annual family festival features hands on activities and dynamic performances, all part of the Centennial Celebration honoring the 100-year anniversary of the gift of the trees.  Make a kokeshi doll, design a shoji screen, construct an origami teahouse, watch taiko drummers, The Washington Ballet, and much more!

Canon Performance Stage at Sylvan Theater
Date: March 31, 2012 – April 15, 2012
Time: Noon – 5 PM Sunday to Thursday; Noon – 6 PM Friday and Saturday
Location: Washington Monument grounds – Independence Avenue & Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW
Cost: FREE
Description: In the shadow of the Washington Monument, this is the Festival’s primary stage. Sponsored by Canon, enjoy recognized and diverse talent from around the region, country, and world, including varied genres of music and dance, martial arts exhibitions, marching bands, and more.

Blossom Kite Festival
Date: March 31, 2012
Time: 10:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Location: Washington Monument grounds – Constitution Avenue & 17th Street, NW
Cost: FREE
Description: The second annual Blossom Kite Festival presented by the National Cherry Blossom Festival showcases the creativity of kite makers and skill of kite fliers from across the US and other countries through a variety of competitions and demonstrations including the popular Hot Tricks Showdown and the Rokkaku Battle. Bring your own kites or children can make a kite at an activity station (while supplies last) to fly on the Public Field.

Japanese Culture Exhibit at the Library of Congress
Date: March 31, 2012 – April 14, 2012
Time: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Location: Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building – Young Readers Center, Room LJ G21 (ground floor)
Cost: FREE
Description: Japanese Culture Day will introduce children and adults to Japanese culture. There will be origami, theater presentation, a kimono display, and other activities. Visitors will be encouraged to explore the center’s library of current and classic books.

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
Date: April 7, 2012
Time: 1:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Location: Southwest Waterfront – 600-900 Water Street, SW
Cost: FREE
Description: The Southwest Waterfront community, home of the cherry blossoms, honors the 100-year anniversary of the gift of trees from Tokyo to Washington, DC with eight celebratory hours of free music, water-related activities, cultural experiences, live entertainment and delicious foods.  The first 500 guests arriving to Kastles Stadium at 1pm for the Festival Kickoff will be given a free Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival bag.  To see all the activities, click here.

Japanese Way of Tea
Date: April 11, 2012
Time: 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Location: Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC), Embassy of Japan – 1150 18th Street, NW
Cost: FREE
Description: Demonstration of The Way of Japanese Tea
1. Introduction of Tea Ceremony – Explain the history and the current state of The Way of Tea.
2. Demonstration of Tea Ceremony – Demonstrate step-by-step how to conduct the Tea Ceremony.
3. Serving of the tea – Serving the tea to attendees.

Spy at Night
Date: April 13, 2012
Time: 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Location: International Spy Museum, 800 F Street, NW
Cost: No ticket necessary for the ninja performance. Admission charges apply to any exhibit entry. Tickets can be purchased here.
Description: Ninjas were professional spies during the age of the samurai in 12thcentury Japan. Their characteristic costume and skillful use of weapons branded them as assassins, yet ninjas were more often used to gather information and undermine the enemy.  The International Spy Museum is hosting a ninja performance by Mie Prefecture, JAPAN during the April Spy at Night event. The ninja show is linked to the same prefecture (state) as Mayor Ozaki, a historical figure in the gift of the cherry blossom trees.

The 20th National Japan Bowl
Date: April 13, 2012
Time: 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: National 4H Youth Conference Center – 7100 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase, MD
Cost: FREE
Description: Japanese language and culture competition for American high school students. Free parking available. More information at Japan Bowl Website.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Date: April 14, 2012
Time: 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Location: Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th streets, NW
Cost: FREE along Parade route
Description: The Parade runs along Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th streets, NW, and is simulcast live, in its entirety, on WJLA−ABC7 and NewsChannel8. Lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and performers burst down the historic avenue in an energy-filled spectacle of music and showmanship seen only once a year during the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Sakura Matsuri
Date: April 14, 2012
Time: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Location: 12th Street & Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Cost: $5 for 13 years of age and older
Description: To celebrate the centennial, they will have more performing artists from Japan than ever before. Among this year’s performers are Tamagawa University’s 44-member taiko group, ninja from Mie Prefecture and samurai from New York; musicians and dancers from Okinawa Prefecture; a bon-odori dance group from Yokohama; noted singer Takako Shirai; shamisen genius Sho Asano, from Sendai; and Orientarhythm, a hip-hop martial arts group. They will perform on three different stages: ANA’s Pennsylvania Avenue Stage; the Temple University-Japan Campus 11th Street Stage; and McDonald’s J-Pop stage.

Japanese Art and Culture Day at the Workhouse
Date: April 21, 2012
Time: 12 PM – 4 PM: workshops, demonstrations, performances, talks; 4:30 PM – 9 PM: Japanese film festival double feature
Location: Workhouse Arts Center, Lorton, VA
Cost: Programs are free of charge, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis; Films: $5 for either or $8 to see both
Description: From noon to 4:00pm there will be FREE workshops, demonstrations, performances and talks featuring Japanese art, culture, music and food.  Among the offerings, horticulture professionals from Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna, Virginia  will speak about the cherry trees in their collection, the cultural importance of the cherry tree, and the joys of interacting with nature.  The Japan-America Society of Washington, DC will host a Japan Festival Booth featuring  a kimono fashion show, traditional children’s games, and more.  In addition, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will be presenting a guest speaker.  For more information, click here.

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