Wednesday, 18, March 2015
- Filed under:
- The Dupont Circle
Welcome Springtime: The Cherry Blossom Festival
If you fancy welcoming spring in style, be sure to head along to Washington’s annual National Cherry Blossom Festival, set to take place from March 20 – April 12.
This beautiful tribute to the delicate pink cherry blossom actually has a fascinating history. In 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gifted the city of Washington with 3,000 cherry trees; a symbol of the friendship between the two nations. On March 27 of that year, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda (the Japanese ambassador’s wife) planted the first two trees together in West Potomac Park.
In Japan, the custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers like the cherry blossom – which blooms all over the country from March to May - is known as ‘Hanami’. It’s an ancient tradition dating back to the eighth century, with people making offerings to the ‘kami’ (spirits) within the trees in celebration of the year’s harvest. The blossoms’ short but brilliant blooming season is seen to reflect the nature of human life, and in fact, within Japanese culture, a fallen cherry blossom symbolises a fallen samurai who has sacrificed his life for the Emperor.
The first American Cherry Blossom Festival was held in 1935, and since then it’s flourished and grown; today it hosts events as diverse as musical showcases, colourful parades, art exhibitions, picnics and even riverside exercise sessions! Most events are free, with many of them paying homage to Japanese culture. Highlights will undoubtedly include the Opening Ceremony on March 21 at the Warner Theatre (admission is free but advance ticketing is required), the tasty Tokyo Picnic Club at the National Building Museum on March 21 and ArtJamz; a chance to create your own cherry blossom masterpiece at the Freer and Sackler Galleries (March 26 and April 9).
But for the most part, the joy of this festival lies in the gorgeous pink blossoms coming alive in their three locations; around the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, in East Potomac Park (Hains Point), and on the Washington Monument grounds. More than 1.5 million people are expected to visit the city during the course of this vibrant event, so be sure to book your hotel now. The Dupont Circle offers a stunning viewpoint of the blossoming city, plus they’re offering two cherry blossom-inspired cocktails in the luxury Bar Dupont as part of their special ‘April in Bloom’ package. There’s a handy festival app too, to help you navigate the many fun events set to take place. For a list of frequently asked questions around the festival, click here.