It’s time to say sayonara to the cherry blossoms, and it feels like they just arrived. But as we wind down the festival that welcomes spring, the seasonal fun is just getting started.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is coming to an end, but not before its grand finale, the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. The procession of giant balloon characters, marching bands, and a mix of performers traveling through the city is easily a highlight of the weekend. On Saturday from 10am – 12pm, catch the spectacle on Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th Streets. Word has it that Elmo and Kermit will be floating overhead along with air-filled cherry blossoms and Japanese lanterns. On ground, catch entertainment by the cast of Ford Theatre’s “Little Shop of Horrors,” Justin Guarini (from American Idol Season 1), The All-Star Tap Team, high school marching bands, Irish danceers, and Japanese drummers. More than 100,000 spectators show up for the parade each year, so get there early to stake out your spot along the route if you don’t have tickets for grandstand seats.
After the parade, head over to 12th and Pennsylvania Ave. NW for Sakura Matsuri. Part of the Cherry Blossom Festival, this annual Japanese street festival is a celebration of Japanese culture, with everything from traditonal food and drink to martial arts and samurai swordsmen. There will be arts and crafts, live performances, karate and sumo demos, and more. At the Children’s Corner, kids can take part in activities like origami, storytelling, and traditional games. The festival runs from 11am – 6pm. Admission is free.
If your kids like their entertainment in the form of sports, the Harlem Globetrotters will score big with them. The comical hoopsters are playing/performing at the Verizon Center this Saturday at 1pm. Ticket prices vary depending on seat location. Check the Ticketmaster website for availability.
We can’t discuss weekend activities without mentioning museums, and there are several cool events happening in the coming days. On Saturday, the National Air & Space Museum presents “Explore the Universe” as part of its Hertiage Series Family Day. From 10am – 3pm throughout the museum on the National Mall, visitors can check out the sky through telescopes, build an astrolabe and pocket solar clock, learn about different cultural significances of the sky, and enjoy stories and astronomy-related activities. Admission to both the museum and event is free.
Young sleuths will love the KidSpy Festival, part of the annual Spy Fest at the International Spy Museum on Sunday. Here’s their chance to see if they have the chops to be the next James Bond or Mata Hari. Experts will be on hand to demo tricks of the trade like cracking codes and secret writing. Participants can then put their spy skills to the test during mini-missions. Program times are 11am and 12:30pm. Tickets are $10. Recommended for children ages 7 and up.
In other museum event news, the Newseum is hosting Junior Journalist Family Day on Sunday. Children ages 6 and up can learn tips from the pros through a variety of journalistic activities that incorporate everything from reporting and broadcasting to cartooning and editing. And the event coincides with the Newseum’s 2nd birthday when tickets are buy-one-get-one-free (be sure to mention the “Second Birthday Deal” to get in on it).
Finally, if you just want to go at your own pace and enjoy the spring weather, Great Falls Park, about 20 minutes of outside of the city, is always good bet. With miles of trails and spectacular views of the Potomac’s waterfals and churning rapids, the park is great place for hikes, picnics, and family bonding time. On the Maryland side, the Billy Goat Trail guarantees a good workout and great scenery. The Virginia side has more open space to run and play and more tables to eat al fresco. Great Falls is open from 7am until dark. Admission is $5 per vehicle, $3 per individual on foot, bike, or horse.