What better way to greet spring than with a trip to the National Cherry Blossom Festival? This two-week celebration features a kite festival, a parade, daily traditional music and dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, bike tours of the pink-and-white blossoms, origami lessons, a Japanese street fair, fireworks, and other special events. The festival celebrates not only the arrival of spring, it also commemorates the gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the city of Washington, D.C., from the people of Tokyo in 1912, as a symbol of friendship between the two nations.
The parade is the festival's biggest event and features spectacular floats, marching bands, taiko drum corps, costumed dance groups, and giant helium balloons. Sakura Matsuri, a Japanese street festival held after the parade, exhibits the traditions, arts, and food of Japan. You'll also see performances by children's musical ensembles. Kids will enjoy playing Japanese games and learning all about Japanese paper- and doll-making.
At the kite festival, hundreds of colorful handmade creations ride the wind as kite fliers compete for prizes. The popular trick kite showdown dazzles the crowd with fantastic aerial acrobatics. For sheer thrills, nothing beats the traditional Japanese Rokakku kite battle, where warring kites bank and dive as fliers try to force their opponent's kite to the ground.
National Cherry Blossom Festival
Address: Various locations, Washington, D.C.
Phone: 202/789-7000, 866/422-8644
Hours of Operation: Late March -- early April
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Laura Sutherland is a widely acknowledged authority on family travel and has published several books on the topic, including Best Family Ski Vacations In North America and Tropical Family Vacations.