Cherry Blossom Festival Comes to DowntownDC
By Rachel Rose Hartman
From street festivals and cocktail parties to bike tours and picnics, a range of exciting cultural and entertainment events are coming to DowntownDC this spring as part of the 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival (NCBF).
The annual festival is billed as the nation's greatest springtime celebration and offers a variety of free and paid events for everyone, young and old to allow them to enjoy D.C.'s blooming Cherry Blossom trees, learn about Japanese culture and have fun in the nation's capital. The 2015 festival commemorates the 103rd anniversary of the gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees from Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki to Washington, D.C. in the year 1912.
This year's festival runs from March 20-April 12 with the traditional Pink Tie Party kickoff fundraising event March 19 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW). The party works to support the festival and help keep many of the events free and open to the public. Traditional festival highlights include the March 28 Kite Festival on the National Mall, the April 10 Grand Ball and the EventsDC April 11 Cherry Blossom Parade (with participation from the DowntownDC BID Safety/Hospitality and Maintenance employees).
New events this year include "Blossoms and Baseball" April 4, a Washington Nationals vs. New York Yankees game at Nationals Park to benefit the festival, an Anacostia River Festival on April 12 and an April 18 National Greenscape Corridor Bike Tour.
The DowntownDC BID is a proud host sponsor of the festival. Each year, over 1.5 million people attend the festival, which this year includes nearly 20 events in Downtown. Visitors create springtime demand for hotels and restaurants and provide a welcome boost to local businesses. For residents, the festival means amazing community events, food and drink specials, pink decorations and of course, beautiful blossoms.
The National Park Service announced March 3 that they estimate peak blossom time for 2015 will be April 11-14. That means that 70 percent of trees are expected to be blooming during that time period, but blooms will be visible in the period before and after the peak.
For 2015 Cherry Blossom Festival events in Downtown, see our list below. Visit www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org for complete information on this year's festival.
- Mar 19: Pink Tie Party- Celebrate the blossoms in style during the ninth annual festival fundraiser, the social event of spring, held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW). http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/pink-tie-party/
- Mar 20: Art at the Center– Free Public Art Tour at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (801 Mount Vernon Place NW). http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/art-at-the-center-%E2%80%93-free-public-art-tour-at-the-walter-e-washington-convention-center-presented-by-events-dc/
- Mar 21: Opening Ceremony- Kick off the 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival and watch world-renowned performers at the historic Warner Theatre (513 13th Street NW). http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/national-cherry-blossom-festival%C2%AE-opening-ceremony-2/
- Mar 21: Tokyo Picnic Club - Bring a blanket, a basket, and a lunch and have your picnic in style in the Great Hall at the National Building Museum (401 F Street NW). http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/tokyo-picnic-club/
- Mar 22-Mar 26: CineMatsuri- This movie festival showcases five of Japan's most recent and best films, each in a different genre, reflecting the richness and diversity of today's Japanese cinema, held at the Landmark E Street Cinema (555 11th Street NW). http://www.cinematsuri.org/
- Mar 24: Movie screening "A Life: The Story of Lady Bird Johnson"- Screening and panel discussion at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (1250 New York Avenue NW). http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/screening-of-a-life-the-story-of-lady-bird-johnson-with-panel-discussion/
- Mar 28: Blossom Kite Festival- Enjoy amazing kite flying on the National Mall. http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/blossom-kite-festival-3/
- Mar 28: Zen Gardens- Learn the history of Japan’s famous Zen rock gardens, then design and build your own at the National Building Museum. http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/zen-gardens/
- Mar 28: 17th Annual Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk- Join in a short, non-competitive walk and program at the Memorial to Japanese-American Patriotism (27 Louisiana Avenue NW). http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/17th-annual-cherry-blossom-freedom-walk/
- Apr 3: Au Naturel: Celebrate our Natural World- Explore highlights from the National Museum of Women in the Arts. http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/au-naturel-celebrate-our-natural-world/
- Apr 4: Shigeru Ban Shelter Challenge- Design, model, and build shelters inspired by the work of Japanese architect Shigeru Ban at the National Building Museum. http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/shigeru-ban-shelter-challenge/
- Apr 7: Panel discussion "US-Japan Relations: Attitudes, Reality, and Future"- This discussion, held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, features experts from the U.S. and Japan who will discuss the nature of bilateral ties. http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/us-japan-relations-attitudes-reality-and-future/
- Apr 10: Official Cherry Blossom Grand Ball & Sushi Reception-This signature ticketed event is held at the J.W. Marriott Hotel (1331 Pennsylvania Avenue NW). http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/2015-official-cherry-blossom-grand-ball-sushi-reception/
- Apr 11: National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/2015parade/
- Apr 11: Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival- This festival, held on Pennsylvania Avenue between 9th and 14th Streets NW features over 50 cultural groups, vendors and food booths, and more than 30 hours of performances on four stages. http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/sakura-matsuri-japanese-street-festival-2/
- Apr 11: 24th Annual Blessing of the Fleets Ceremony- This event is held at the U.S. Navy Memorial (701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW). http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/24th-annual-blessing-of-the-fleets-ceremony/
- Apr 18: National Cherry Blossom Festival Greenscape Corridor Bike Ride- This 11-mile bike ride from BicycleSPACE takes cyclists through DowntownDC to explore landmark green spaces around our nation’s capital. http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/national-cherry-blossom-festival-greenscape-corridor-bike-ride/