Every year a vibrant spectacle of gorgeous pink flowers signify the beginning of spring in Washington, D.C., and these magnificent blooms are celebrated in a month-long celebration known as the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The festival celebrates the 3,000 cherry blossom trees given to us in 1912 by the mayor of Tokyo, a gift that honors a lasting friendship between the U.S. and Japan. This year the Cherry Blossom Festival takes place from March 20 – April 15. Read below for some of the fabulous kid-friendly events you’ll find at this year’s festival. Washington Parent is a proud sponsor of the SAAM Cherry Blossom Celebration and the Blossom Kite Festival.
SAAM Cherry Blossom Celebration
Saturday, March 24, 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Smithsonian American Art Museum – 8th and G Streets, NW, Washington D.C.
Join the Smithsonian American Art Museum for a celebration of Japanese culture! A taiko drumming performance kicks off the day, followed by Japanese music, and a U.S. premiere of Okinawa’s NS Ryukyu Ballet Company, an ensemble that weaves classical dance with modern ballet and martial arts. Enjoy face painting and making cherry blossom crafts and go on a spring-themed scavenger hunt. Also, meet the 2018 official festival artist Maggie O’Neill and join her for a hands-on workshop in the Luce Foundation Center; workshop registration required. Free.
Blossom Kite Festival
Saturday, March 31, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Grounds of the Washington Monument near 17th Street NW and Constitution Avenue
The Blossom Kite Festival creates a colorful spectacle against the backdrop of iconic downtown monuments and includes five areas to explore and enjoy: the competition and demonstration field, public field, kite club display area, family field and activity tents. Experienced and first-time kite makers can enter the adult kite makers competition in the competition and demonstration field, and all are welcome to fly their own kites on the public field. Family Field programs include youth competitions, a bubble zone, races, arts and crafts and kids music.
The Blossom Kite Festival includes the following events:
Kite Ballets: Master kite fliers synchronize their kites to music.
Rokkaku Battle: Hexagonal-shaped fighter kites commonly flown in Japan are flown by teams in a competition to “cut” or “ground” opposing kites.
Hot Tricks Showdown: Multi-line kite fliers engage in a series of one-on-one competitions and maneuver their sport kites in amazing flight patterns during 30 seconds of music.
Windjammers Stunt Kite Team: Kite fliers from Detroit perform their unique kite routines.
Blossom Build-Off competition: Teams will be challenged to create a kite using a trash bag and minimal supplies. The activity tent area includes a kite making tent, a National Park Service activity tent, a writing activity at the Jumpstart at George Washington University tent and kite repairs at the John Oxenham Memorial Kite Hospital.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Saturday, April 14, 10 a.m. – 12 Noon
Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th Streets
One of D.C.’s largest spectator events, the energy-filled parade runs for 10 blocks along Constitution Avenue from the National Archives to the Washington Monument. Giant colorful helium balloons, elaborate floats, marching bands from across the country, celebrity entertainers and performers burst down the parade route in this grand spectacle of music and showmanship seen only once a year. Experience the pageantry and excitement at the nation’s premier springtime parade. Performers include 90s hip-hop group Arrested Development, country singer Ty Herndon, pop/classical string quartet Well Strung, “The Voice” season eight contestant Sarah Potenza and season 11 contestant Billy Gilman, extreme pogo stunt team XPOGO and more.
Storytime: Under the Cherry Blossom Tree
Wednesday, April 11, 10 a.m.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Independence Avenue at 7th Street, SW
Under the Cherry Blossom Tree invites the museum’s youngest visitors to gather by Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree for Washington D.C., a Japanese dogwood given to the Hirshhorn as a gift from the artist, symbolizing community and hope for the future. Staff will read aloud a Japanese tale about a man swallowing a seed, which results in a tree growing out of his head, then there will be a hands-on activity.
Cherry Blossom Day with the Freer|Sackler
Saturday, April 7, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Freer Gallery of Art, Jefferson Drive and 12th Street, SW
Take a family-friendly tour and learn about nature in Japanese art at 10:30 a.m., then continue exploring the Freer for pop-up art-making activities and artist demonstrations inspired by the spring season.
Japanese Culture Day
Saturday, April 7, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Young Readers Center, Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress, 10 First Street, SE
Get introduced to Japanese culture through reading, writing and craft making with Japanese cultural and linguistic professionals. Highlights of the day include The Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C.’s “Japan-in-a-Suitcase” program, tiara-making with former cherry blossom princesses and a book reading and signing by New York Times bestseller Tad Hills, American children’s book author of “How Rocket Learned to Read,” winner of the Irma Simonton Black & James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature.
The Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival
Saturday, April 14, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Pennsylvania Avenue from 3rd to 7th Streets, NW
The largest one-day celebration of Japanese culture in the U.S. returns to the streets of downtown D.C., presenting more than 80 cultural groups, arts vendors and food booths in a showcase of more than 30 cumulative hours of vibrant programming. Tickets required.
Asian Brush Painting
Saturday, April 7, 1 – 2:30 p.m.
Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA
Celebrate the blooming of the cherry trees and Japanese culture with Asian sumi-e brush painting. Learn about the materials and brush strokes used in this beautiful art style and take home your own brush painting masterpiece. Art materials provided. Best for kids 5 years and up and their parents. Pre-registration suggested. Tickets required.