In 1912, the U.S. was given over 3,000 cherry blossom trees as a gift from Japan to celebrate international friendship. What began as an annual ceremony honoring the exchange has now become “the nation’s greatest springtime celebration.”
Washington, D.C.‘s National Cherry Blossom Festival (NCBF) sees hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to enjoy the sight of West Potomac Park engulfed in pink. The 2013 festival will take place from March 20 to April 14, allowing visitors to take part in numerous daily events, most of which are free to enjoy. Some of these include: jazz concerts and martial arts at the Jefferson Memorial, a very lively parade, kite-flying tricks and competitions, a fantastic fireworks display, cherry-inspired munchies and cocktails by D.C.’s top chefs at the Pink Tie Party, and, of course, the largest Japanese cultural festival in the country (note: most events are only on set days, so be sure to plan accordingly if there’s something specific that catches your fancy). Photographers may want to bring their good cameras, as the festival is the perfect nature-made opportunity to capture Earth at its pinkest.
If you want to time your visit perfectly, keep checking the predictions for the “peak bloom date” on the event site – you can even check the city’s Cherry Blossom webcam. Dogs are allowed in the National Mall and Memorial Parks, but they must be kept on a leash (and no territory-marking in the Reflecting Pool, Fido).
Fun fact? Cherry blossom tree leaves/blossoms are edible. In Japan they are pickled and dunked in hot water to be sipped like tea. There are some toxins, though, so no binging on an entire tree at your next picnic – and don’t try this at the festival!
Learn more on a cherry blossom and monuments tour of DC!
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