The sun is shining. Thousands of tourists and locals have flocked to the National Mall. Fluffy pink and white cotton-like petals dance in the breeze, leaving the sweetest faint scent. It is the welcoming of warm weather and the beginning of spring, and one of my favorite events in our nation’s capital—the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.
On March 27, 1912, the mayor of Tokyo City, Yukio Ozaki, in an effort to enhance the growing relationship between the U.S. and Japan, donated over 3,000 cherry blossoms to D.C. What once was a kind gesture of a continued friendship between two nations, is now a commemorating festival that brings millions from all over the world to join in on this festive celebration.
If you’re visiting the National Cherry Blossom Festival for the first time, you’ll probably hear these two words “peak bloom” quite a bit. Peak bloom is the one day that botanists predict that the cherry blossoms will be at full bloom; at least 70 percent. However, this is an estimated prediction because weather can definitely change this highlight anticipated date. On average, the cherry blossoms achieve peak bloom by April 4th, with the entire blooming process taking up to 14 days. If you miss out on peak day, you’re not out of luck, it’s a beautiful site to witness the process of a blooming cherry blossom at any time, whether it’s at the very beginning stages or at full bloom.
Now that we’ve gotten all that botanical talk out the way, let’s talk about all the fun events that center around this festival; a parade with giant helium balloons and elaborate floats; fireworks that light up the D.C. skies; and, even the largest daylong cultural celebration in the US, the Sakura Matsuri-Japanese Street Festival. You’ll feel that you have left the states and been submerged into the Japanese culture. Even if you’re not into viewing trees, there’s plenty to keep yourself entertained.
I also must forewarn you, your funds can evaporate rapidly for one main reason; there are food choices galore! I spent 17 bucks on 3 little tacos that fit into the palm of my hand and some miniature chicken nuggets with 2 fries. If you’re attending with children, save yourself some money by bringing snacks and plenty of water.
The crowds can get huge at the festival. Visiting during the week in the early afternoon is a great way to avoid the large crowds on the weekend. Take precaution, there will be extreme crowds at the most popular spots like the Tidal Basin and popular monuments, the Jefferson Memorial, Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Photographer aficionados should come prepared with your cameras. The splendidly beautiful views will have you snapping away. I’ve already attended once since the festival opened on March 20th and will be attending again on April 16th for the grand finale parade and concert which will be held before the last day of the festival on April 17th. I’m pretty excited about the musical performances this year. The cast of Jersey Boys, Viva Mas who recently performed for the pope, and one of my favorite artist Raheem DeVaughn, will be blessing us with his musical talents as well.
So if your dropping in on D.C. or in the surrounding area visiting, check out the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Bring your children, your dog, the whole family because there is something for everyone of all ages and sizes to enjoy.
Click here for more info on the National Cherry Blossom Festival and events: www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.
About The Author: Pamilla Hiner is a fellow Houstonian living in the D.C. area. She is currently a travel writer and blogger as well as a flight attendant for an American carrier. Her passion is to inspire her readers to travel, and also show them how traveling can be transformative from a personal and business perspective. For more information about Pamilla, visit her on Instagram@thesolotravelmuse