Always on the lookout for an affordable adventure around town? Look no further this weekend than the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival! The recent warmer weather has brought the feel of spring quicker than normal as well as early blooms on the cherished Japanese cherry trees. The National Cherry Blossom Festival will unofficially kick off with morning activities Saturday, March 26 at the National Building Museum. These kid-friendly festivities are free to the general public and will be held from 10am to 3:30pm. Family Day will feature some hands-on activities such as decorating miniature kites to prepare for the Blossom Kite Festival, cutting and assembling kirigami flowers, and an exhibit of paper artist Matthew Sporzynski’s creations along with the opportunity for children to learn how to fold a pressman’s hat with the artist.
Throughout the day, many groups of local performers will be providing entertainment to festival-goers both indoors as well as outside. Stay inside to hear the voices of “Sophisticated Ladies,” a female vocal group from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and watch dancers from the Shizumi Kodomo Dance Troupe and The Washington Ballet. Then head outdoors to let your own body flow to the beat of the Nen Daiko Taiko Drum Ensemble and the Positive Vibrations Youth Steel Orchestra.
Parents can also make the day an opportunity to teach their children about the benefits of health and exercise. Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States will have a Corner Store set up where children can take a tour and learn about healthy food choices, including a station where families can snap a picture for the memory book with Doc Broc. Afterward, take a stroll around the Tidal Basin to admire the fruits of Japan’s gift to the District back in 1912. Meandering on the path is always free, or you can take the Blossom Secrets Stroll, a $15 guided walking tour through Washington Walks that tells the story of the cherry trees’ journey to DC.
Wrap up your day with the Cherry Blossom Festival’s Opening Ceremony. Free to the public, the ceremony features traditional and contemporary performances that commemorate the gift of trees and is the official welcome to visitors for the 16-day celebration. Muscian Keiko Matsui, contemporary dance company TAKE Dance and youth artists from the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program are among the ceremony’s featured performers.
For more information about the history of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the activities listed above and others that the festival offers, please visit the festival’s website.