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The Best Events of the 2017 Cherry Blossom Season for Families

blossoms_picnic

There’s much more to cherry blossom season in DC than just the famous flowers. The National Cherry Blossom Festival makes it a great celebration with all kinds of events over several weeks, plus there are even more blossom-inspired happenings that aren’t part of the official festival. Here are the best of them for families to help plan for a peak blossom experience. And be sure to check out this post, too, with tips for cherry blossom viewing. Happy spring!

Cultural Performances
Where: Tidal Basin Welcome Area
When: March 15 – April 2
Admission: Free

Catch live entertainment as you take in views of the blossoms! During the bloom season and most of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, there will be music and dance performances on a special stage set up at the Tidal Basin Welcome Area. Enjoy them daily starting March 15 from 12-6pm.

Cherry Blossom Celebration
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum
When: March 25
Admission: Free

Celebration of Japanese culture in the beauitful Kogod Courtyard! A taiko drumming performance will kick off the day, followed by Japanese music and dance performances, face painting, and cherry-blossom themed crafts. Make your own tatebanko (a Japanese paper diorama) with friends from the Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler Gallery, go on a scavenger hunt to find spring themed artworks, and more!

Japanese Culture Day
Where: Library of Congress Young Readers Center
When: March 25
Admission: Free

Learn about Japanese culture as you create origami artwork creation, try on kimonos, and enjoy more other activities. Cherry Blossom princesses from the last few years will instruct children in the art of tiara-making. At 11am and 1:30pm, the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC, will present “Japan-In-A-Suitcase,” a program about Japanese life and culture. Following each of these presentations, there will be a karate demonstration along with other attractions. Children can also explore the Library’s Young Readers Center, which is full of current and classic children’s literature – read more about it here.

Friendship Between Nations Family Day
Where: National Archives
When: March 25, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Join the National Archives for a fun, activity filled day exploring the many ways countries show their friendship, such as the gift of the cherry blossoms from Japan to the US. Investigate treaties, learn about some of the crazy gifts countries have given, and participate in interactive activities designed for the entire family to enjoy.

Kites of Asia Heritage Family Day
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: March 25, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Get ready for the Blossom Kite Festival and celebrate spring and Asian heritage! At the Air & Space Museum’s annual event, you can talk to kite experts, see pan-Asian kite displays, marvel at indoor kite flying, make your own kite, and maybe even take a dance lesson!

Go fly a kite on the National Mall!

Go fly a kite on the National Mall!

Blossom Kite Festival
Where: Washington Monument Grounds
When: April 1, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Go fly a kite! Seriously. The Kite Festival is probably my favorite event of the blossom season. The sight of thousands of kites in all colors, shapes, and sizes soaring around the Washington Monument is truly a sight to behold. It’s magical for kids — and even for me as a jaded adult! The sails you see flying at the Festival each spring range from simple to pretty darn creative. Dragons, sharks, butterflies, giant soccer balls, even some that look like big, beautiful origami works way outnumber your basic diamond. And anyone can go fly their kites, so BYO or make one there at an activity station. There’s a competition aspect to the event, too; expert kite enthusiasts will wow crowds with cool stunts, and prizes will be awarded to winners of various categories such as most beautiful, funniest, and aerodynamics.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th Streets NW
When: April 8, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

The pinnacle of cherry blossom festivities is easily the parade. Thousands of people line Constitution Avenue every year to watch the spectacle of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and a variety of performers travel down Constitution Avenue. Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $20, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free. Plan to arrive early to get a good view — the crowds come out for this one, especially if it’s a pretty spring day.

Sakura Matsuri
Where: M Street & New Jersey Ave. SE
When: April 8, 10:30am – 6pm
Admission: $8/ages 13 and up in advance, free for 12 and under

Following the Cherry Blossom parade, many folks head over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture. There will be live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. All at a new location in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. Be prepared for a crowd.

Family Workshop: Japanese Woodblock Printing
Where: Sackler Gallery
When: April 8-9, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

In celebration of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, join the Sackler for opening weekend of Inventing Utamaro and free family activities! In this Open Studio, witness firsthand the beauty and complexity of Japanese woodblock prints. Take a family-friendly tour (offered at 12:30pm and 2:30pm) of the exhibition, then explore traditional tools and papers. A teaching artist demonstrates transferring designs to a block, carving, and basic printing techniques. Come prepared to get your hands inky. All ages welcome!

Anacostia River Festival
Where: Anacostia Park
When: April 9
Admission: Free

The National Park Service and the 11th Street Bridge Park present the 3rd annual Anacostia River Festival, also a premier event of the 2017 National Cherry Blossom Festival! Celebrate the Anacostia River with some fun outdoor recreation! Explore the river by canoe, ride in a bike parade, play lawn games with your family, and experience Southeast DC’s local arts scene. This year they’re celebrating biking in the District with trail rides, safety classes, quick bike tune ups, and special bike activities for all ages.

Family Afternoon: Design with Nature
Where: National Building Museum
When: April 9, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

All ages can drop in for creative hands-on activities, a community garden design project, and opportunities to learn about Japanese art and design. See how nature is intentionally integrated into the built world, different ways people design with nature, and how nature can inspire design in and around built spaces. Learn about symbolism of the natural world across cultures and make connections between springtime symbolism, design, nature, and the built world they live in.

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
Where: Southwest Waterfront
When: April 15, 2-9:30pm
Admission: Free

This event that takes place along the District Wharf and the Titanic Memorial on the Southwest Waterfront is one of the last of the festival this year. It’s an afternoon and part-evening affair with free live music and family-friendly festivities, including water-related activities, cultural experiences, and delicious foods. The grand finale will begin at 8:30pm when the National Cherry Blossom Festival Fireworks Show lights up the night sky.


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Make Some Family Plans for the 2016 National Cherry Blossom Festival

blossoms_picnic

With the National Park Service’s recent announcement of the predicted cherry blossom peak (March 31 – April 3) and the Capital Weather Gang’s declaration that winter is over and spring is on, it’s time to talk celebration. And the National Cherry Blossom Festival, along with a couple of museums, have it all figured out for us with several weeks of events and activities to enjoy during the prettiest time of year in DC. Here are the best of them for families to help you have a peak blossom experience. Happy spring! (Update: The National Park Service revised their prediction, and the peak is now expected March 18-23.)

Asia Heritage Family Day
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: March 19, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Get ready for the Blossom Kite Festival and celebrate spring and Asian Heritage! Talk to kite experts, see pan-Asian kite displays, marvel at indoor kite flying, make your own kite, and maybe even take a dance lesson! This year’s Kites of Asia Heritage Family Day will have a special focus on Nepal and India.

Make an Okinawan Textile Craft
Where: GW Museum & Textile Museum
When: March 18-20
Admission: Free

Discover Okinawa at this three-day celebration for all ages! Try your hand at origami, traditional bingata painting, and other art activities. Enjoy children’s stories, dance performances, and karate demonstrations. Learn about the geography and natural environment of the island, sample Okinawan treats, and take home a local souvenir. Check the website to see the schedule of events each day.

Family Day at the Building Museum
Where: National Building Museum
When: March 26
Admission: Free

The National Building Museum is hosting their annual event to kick off the cherry blossoms celebration family-style. And they’re doing it with a nod to the National Park Service’s Centennial Anniversary. The day will feature hands-on fun and games focused on parks, planning, landscape design, and architecture. Activities will include folding origami masterpieces, designing a memorial for the National Mall, constructing a tatebanko diorama, meeting DuAro (Kawasaki’s robot), trying on traditional Japanese clothing, and learning more about the National Park Service’s milestone celebration.

Blossom Kite Festival
Where: Washington Monument Grounds
When: April 2, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Go fly a kite! Seriously. The Kite Festival is, in my opinion, the best event during cherry blossom season (when the weather cooperates, anyway). The sight of thousands of kites in all colors, shapes, and sizes soaring around the Washington Monument is truly a sight to behold. It’s absolutely magical for my kids, and even for me as a jaded adult. The sails you see flying at the Festival each spring range from simple to pretty darn creative. Dragons, sharks, butterflies, giant soccer balls, even some that look like intricate works of art actually outnumber your basic diamond. And anyone can go fly their kites, so be sure to bring one. There’s a competition aspect to the event, too; expert kite enthusiasts will wow crowds with cool stunts, and prizes will be awarded to winners of various categories such as most beautiful, funniest, and aerodynamics.

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
Where: Southwest Waterfront, 600 Water Street SW
When: April 9, 1-9pm
Admission: Free

A fun family event happening along the water is the annual fireworks show at the Southwest Waterfront. It’s an all-day and part-evening affair with free live music and family-friendly festivities, including water-related activities, cultural experiences, and delicious foods. The grand finale will begin at 8:30pm when the National Cherry Blossom Festival Fireworks Show lights up the night sky.

Family Workshop: Paper Trails
Where: Sackler Gallery
When: April 10 & 16, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

In celebration of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, explore the importance of paper across Asian artmaking traditions. With educators from the Freer|Sackler and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, use traditional Japanese papers and bookmaking tools and techniques to create your own artist’s book. This program is designed for children ages 6–12 and adults to enjoy together.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th Streets NW
When: April 16, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

The pinnacle of cherry blossom festivities is easily the parade. Thousands of people line Constitution Avenue every year to watch the spectacle of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and a variety of performers travel down Constitution Avenue. Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $20, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free. Plan to arrive early to get a good view — the crowds come out for this one, especially if it’s a pretty spring day.

Sakura Matsuri
Where: M Street & New Jersey Ave. SE
When: April 16, 10:30am – 6pm
Admission: $8/ages 13 and up in advance, free for 12 and under

Following the Cherry Blossom parade, many folks head right over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture. There will be live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. All at a new location in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. Be prepared for a crowd.


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Peak Events of the 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival

2015_blossom_fest

We may be several weeks away from the cherry blossom peak — as of now, it’s expected April 11-14 — but the big annual event celebrating them begins in just a few days. The 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival takes place March 20 – April 12. And while most of it may not overlap with the best of the bloom, there are plenty of activities offering peak fun, many of them prime for kids. Here’s where you can enjoy the best of the fest.

Family Days at the Building Museum
Where: National Building Museum
When: March 21, March 28, & April 4
Admission: Free

The National Building Museum is switching things up a bit this year and spreading out the Cherry blossom Festival family fun. Instead of the usual larger single festival day to kick off the celebration, they’re hosting a series of workshops. Tokyo Picnic Club invites families to picnic in the Great Hall on March 21, Zen Gardens offers a lesson in Japan famous Zen rock gardens and an opportunity for participants to design and build one of their own on March 28 (prepaid registration required). The Paper Tube Shelter Challenge on April 4 welcomes guests to design, model, and build shelters with recyclable paper tubes (prepaid registration required).

Kites of Asia Family Day
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: March 21, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Get ready for the Blossom Kite Festival and celebrate the artistry and beauty of Asian kites. See kites on display and in the air, discover the diversity of kites from across Asia, and learn how kites helped the Wright brothers develop the first airplane. Guests can fashion a Chinese Dragon puppet, color a Thai-style kite, and make a Philippian leaf kite at hands-on stations. There will also be kite-themed storytimes — see the website for times and details.

Make an Okinawan Textile Craft
Where: GW Museum & Textile Museum
When: March 22
Admission: Free

Celebrate the (re)opening of the Textile Museum since its merger with GWU and the Cherry Blossom Festival! The museum will host an exhibition on textiles from Okinawa and welcomes guests of all ages to learn about and make artwork inspired by brightly colored bingata, traditional Okinawan cloth made using stencils and resist dyeing.

Blossom Kite Festival
Where: Washington Monument Grounds
When: March 28, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Go fly a kite! Seriously. The Kite Festival is, in my opinion, the best event during cherry blossom season (when the weather cooperates, anyway). The sight of thousands of kites in all colors, shapes, and sizes soaring around the Washington Monument is truly a sight to behold. It’s absolutely magical for my kids, and even for me as a jaded adult. The sails you see flying at the Festival each spring range from simple to pretty darn creative. Dragons, sharks, butterflies, giant soccer balls, even some that look like intricate works of art actually outnumber your basic diamond. And anyone can go fly their kites, so be sure to bring one. There’s a competition aspect to the event, too; expert kite enthusiasts will wow crowds with cool stunts, and prizes will be awarded to winners of various categories such as most beautiful, funniest, and aerodynamics.

Cherry Blossom Celebration
Where: Freer-Sackler Galleries
When: March 28
Admission: Free

The galleries dedicated to Asian art are celebrating the 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival with a day full of Japanese art, anime and manga films, and family activities. The museum shop is hosting a trunk show of vintage Japanese garments as well as a signing of the newly released book Cherry Blossoms, featuring artworks from the Freer and Sackler collections.

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
Where: Southwest Waterfront, 600 Water Street SW
When: April 4, 1-9pm
Admission: Free

A fun family event happening along the water is the annual fireworks show at the Southwest Waterfront. It’s an all-day and part-evening affair with free live music and family-friendly festivities, including water-related activities, cultural experiences, and delicious foods. The grand finale will begin at 8:30pm when the National Cherry Blossom Festival Fireworks Show lights up the night sky.

Cherry Blossom Family Celebration
Where: 8th & G Streets, NW
When: April 4, 11:30am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Cherry Blossom season with the Smithsonian American Art Museum! Enjoy traditional Japanese music and dance performances while you make tatebanko (Japanese paper dioramas) with guests from the Freer | Sackler. Fold origami birds and learn about preparing your garden for the spring from Smithsonian Gardens.

Lantern Making Family Day
Where: Canal Park
When: April 4, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Bring the whole family to construct Japanese lanterns at the Capitol Riverfront area park. There will be two sessions of the activity, at 10am and 12pm. Moonbouncing and Japanese cultural activities will also be happening throughout the event for kids to enjoy.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th Streets NW
When: April 11, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

The pinnacle of cherry blossom festivities is, hands-down, the parade. Thousands of people line Constitution Avenue every year to watch the spectacle of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and a variety of performers travel down Constitution Avenue. Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $20, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free. Plan to arrive early to get a good view — the crowds come out for this one, especially if it’s a pretty spring day.

Sakura Matsuri
Where: Pennsylvania Avenue, 9th – 14th Streets NW
When: April 11, 10:30am – 6pm
Admission: $10/ages 13 and up, free for 12 and under

Immediately following the Cherry Blossom parade, many folks head right over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture. Stretching down six city blocks from 9th to 14th Streets on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, there will be live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. Be prepared for a crowd.


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