The National Cherry Blossom Festival: Historic Tradition Signals the Beginning of Spring

In March 1912, Tokyo’s mayor Yukio Ozaki gifted Washington, D.C. 3,000 Japanese cherry trees that bloom every spring. Celebrating these gorgeous trees and all they represent, as they turn hues of pink and white, has become an annual tradition at the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs for just under a month and features an array of events revolving around the blooming trees and the friendship between Japan and the United States. This year’s festival of events will run from March 18th to April 16th, with peak bloom projected to arrive between March 22nd and March 25th. The Opening Ceremony is scheduled for March 25th.

The Opening Ceremony is co-presented by the Japan Foundation and honors the gift of the trees and the friendship between the two nations through artistic performances. Talented musicians with ties to both the United States and Japan will take to the stage for incredible performances ranging from jazz to pop. While tickets have sold out for this part of the festival, the event can be live-streamed online.

Several free events at the National Cherry Blossom Festival are a blast for the whole family. The Blossom Kite Festival is a huge and colorful occasion on the grounds of the Washington Monument that includes music, shows, and of course, kites. Professional and amateur kite enthusiasts will be showing off their kites at this event on March 25th, and families can bring their own kites, purchase them on-site, or even make them there.

Petalpalooza is one of the iconic events of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a spectacular spring celebration along the Capitol Riverfront. This outdoor event has something for everyone: art, music, food, a beverage garden, and more. The event is free to attend and is scheduled for April 8th. It will finish off with the National Cherry Blossom Festival Fireworks Show, a spectacular fireworks display that can be seen throughout the city.

Another primary event at the National Cherry Blossom Festival is the Sakura Matsuri-Japanese Street Festival, the single-largest celebration of Japanese culture in the United States. This event will take place from April 15th to April 16th, and tickets cost $10 for a one-day early bird or $15 for a two-day early bird. The festival will have more than 24 hours of Japanese cultural performances across four stages, including martial arts demonstrations and traditional Japanese music. There will also be showcases of Japanese technologies as well as delicious Japanese foods and beverages.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on April 15th is another massive part of this occasion. This is a spectacular, colorful event along Constitution Avenue featuring celebrity appearances, dancers, floats, musical performances, marching bands, and more. Portions of the parade area are free to the public, or seats can be reserved online at costs that depend on their location.

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