National Cherry Blossom Festival Heads into Its Last Week

2014 Festival Events End April 13

The District has welcomed the arrival of spring with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a three-week long citywide series of events showcasing the gift of more than 3,000 cherry blossom trees from Japan.

“We welcome spring with over 25 days of events that are mostly free and open to the public,” said Danielle Davis, festival spokeswoman. Known as one of the largest springtime festivals in the country, the annual event attracts more than one million people from around the world.

But thanks to harsh weather D.C. experienced this winter, the festival is slightly different this year. The cherry blossom trees are slowly progressing, but have not fully bloomed. The National Park Service predicted this year’s peak bloom forecast to fall between April 8 and 12. This is the latest blooming season in over 10 years.

Dupont Circle resident Raven Hawkins loves attending the cherry blossom festival each year, especially seeing the cherry blossom trees all over the city. “I absolutely love cherry blossoms. I never saw them until I moved to D.C.,” she said. “They actually used to make my allergies act up, but after having them all over the city, I am use to them and can finally appreciate their beauty.”

Bloomed trees or not, the show will go on, said Davis. “We still expect over 1.5 million people to attend our events,” she said. “Our largest spectator event is the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade presented by Events DC.” This year, the parade will take place on April 12 taking its usual route down Constitution Avenue.

Other highly attended events include the Blossom Kite Festival and the Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival. The Japanese Street Festival is the largest Japanese cultural festival in the United States, featuring food, art, merchandise and live traditional and Japanese Pop performances.

Festival Director at the Japan-America Society of Washington DC Mark Hitzig thinks that the new festival events will make this year’s experience unique. “This year, we are having a culinary arts pavilion where different Japanese culinary demonstrations will take place,” Hitzig said. “The chef we are hiring is a celebrity chef from the Japanese program Dining with the Chef.”

Marissa Johnson, a tourist from Georgia, chose to attend the festival for an evening of family fun and said, “My favorite event so far has been watching the fireworks with my kids.”  This year’s Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival was filled with live music, local vendors, and a host of family related events.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival continues through April 13. Tickets for all events can be purchased on the National Cherry Blossom Festival website.