Cherry Blossom Fest: 100 Years in Bloom

Cherry Blossom Fest: 100 Years in Bloom

Samia El-Balawi

The chance to be part of a once in a lifetime celebration is about to occur around the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, Washington DC – the 100th anniversary of the Cherry Blossom Festival that each year sees thousands of Sakura trees bloom with delicate pale pink flowers, marking the beginning of spring. In 1912, the Mayor of Tokyo, Yukio Ozaki gifted the city with 3,000 cherry tree saplings and again in 1965 3,800 were given as a symbol of each nation’s friendship, which was later reciprocated when cuttings were given back to Japan in 1981. To this day, the blooming buds attract visitors from all over the world but you’ve got to be quick as they only last for about two weeks.

Each year, horticultural experts try to forecast the trees blossoming dates with the 2012 peak flowering prediction set for 4 April, but of course this is dependent on several weather conditions ranging from frost to high temperatures. Blooms appear several days before the peak and usually last for two weeks during this unique annual occurrence. The best way to enjoy the beautiful display of flourishing pink petals is to walk around the Tidal Basin near the National Mall and the ideal times to do so is in the warm light of the rising or setting sun.

To mark this special centennial celebration event organisers have extended the festivities for more than five weeks with a variety of entertainment and activities to watch and get involved in. There will be a number of free events to attend, such as the opening ceremony, a bike ride and cycle expo, a chamber music concert, kite flying competitions, a waterfront fireworks display, and a festival parade running along Constitution Avenue.

Head to 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue on 14 April for the United States’ largest Japanese cultural festival – Sakura Matsuri, now in its 52nd year. Expect live performances in music and martial arts, as well as an arts and culture section with doll making and bonsai among traditional activities to participate in. The Taste of Japan will feature a mix of Japanese, Thai, Korean and Chinese cuisines, including Western offerings. Quench your thirst at either one of Kirin Ichiban’s two beer gardens to savour Japan’s favourite draft and don’t forget to try one or all of six sake’s available from Hakutsuru Sake tasting pavilion.

Stay around the celebrations in Capitol Hill where you can also find rooms at reasonable rates. Check into the Liaison Capitol Hill, An Affinia Hotel for boutique style accommodation or try the Capitol Hill Suites Hotel for a comfortable establishment that caters to the business traveller as well. Downtown, there are many choices ranging from the 3-star Henley Park Hotel to the 5-star Mandarin Oriental Washington DC Hotel. More Washington DC Hotel Promotions can be found on our website.

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