It must be springtime in the District of Columbia, as evidenced by the finicky weather and increasing number of tourists encountered on my daily commute via the Metro. As the Nation’s capital, tourists visit year-round. However, the warmer seasons bring droves of curious out-of-towners-with the likes of stereotypical nuclear families, boisterous classes on field trips, and brave international couples who barely speak English.
I call a nearby Maryland suburb home, and DC my vast playground. Consequently, I’ve experienced most of what the city has to offer to locals and tourists alike. Accordingly, DC’s prime sight-seeing spots and activities often get my personal label of “been there, done that.” Taking a White House tour-check. Visiting the Smithsonian museums-check. Consuming a Ben’s Chili Bowl chili dog-check. Running over DC’s infamous potholes and into former Mayor Marion Barry at a local Maggiano’s-check. However, one attraction continues to intrigue me: the National Cherry Blossom Festival. You’d be surprised how captivating these trees that were gifted by Tokyo in 1912 can be and that bloom for only about three weeks each year.
Beyond enjoying the breathtaking beauty of approximately 3,750 trees-that can be seen while walking or picnicking near landmarks such as the Lincoln and National World War II Memorials-there are a variety of events held in honor of these trees. About one million people attend the Festival each year, and participating is a perfect way to get into the swing of Spring! Getting involved can be free, relaxing and fun, particularly when in good company.
This year’s Festival convenes from March 26th to April 10th. Most events are free and great for the family, including: the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade along Constitution Avenue (April 9th), Lantern Walks to enjoy the evening lights around the Tidal Basin (March 27th), and a variety of cultural performances at Sylvan Theater near the Washington Monument (each festival day from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. on weekends). For a full listing of events visit: nationalcherryblossomfestival.org. Allow extra time for travel, as there will be a higher number of people visiting the city. The closest Metro stop is Smithsonian (Blue/Orange lines) or visit: wmata.com. If you prefer to drive, there is first-come, first-served paid parking in surrounding areas. Be sure to go to nationalcherryblossomfestival.org for any other questions you might have.
Now, go out and smell the blossoms!