DC Metro Mom
Best of the 100th Anniversary of the Cherry Blossom Festival for Kids!
If you've noticed the beautiful weather we've been having it won't come as any surprise that the cherry blossoms are coming early this year. The National Park Service has moved up its forecast for the second time and just announced that the bloom should begin March 18 and peak between March 20-23. To celebrate the arrival of the beloved blossoms and the Centennial of the Japanese gift of 3,000 cherry trees, Washington will be hosting a once-in-a-lifetime "epic" 5-week festival (March 20 - April 27) with over 200 special events, exhibitions, workshops, and performances from March 20 - April 27, 2012.
With thousands of blossom-gawkers, festival revelers, tour busses, and the usual daily rush hour, getting around town may be challenging, but not impossible if you plan ahead. In my experience, the best time to view the blossoms without huge crowds is early Sunday morning. If you head downtown early enough you can usually get a parking space within walking distance (albeit probably a long walking distance), stroll around the tidal basin, get your photos, and still make a relatively early brunch in town. In addition to the blooms themselves, there are lots of wonderful events that kids will enjoy at venues throughout the area. Listed below are DC Metro Mom's picks for the best kid-friendly events and tips for making the most of the festival with your family.
Best Cherry Blossom Festival Events for Kids
Tidal Basin Paddle Boats - March 20 - April 27
Japanese Tea Party - Botanic Garden - March 18
Princess of Kaguya - Kennedy Center - March 24
Cherry Blossom Family Days - National Building Museum - March 24-25
Cherry Blossom Bike Ride and Cycle Expo - Georgetown - March 25
Japanese Paper Dioramas - Freer/Sackler - March 25
Japanese Cluture Day - Library of Congress - March 31
Kite Festival - Mall - March 31
"My Neighbor Totoro" Children's Film - National Gallery of Art - March 31
Taikoza Family Concert - National Gallery of Art - March 31
Anraku-Miyata Duo Family Concert - April 1
Cherry Blossom Tea - Tudor Place - April 4 & 11
Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival - April 7
Tea with Cherry Blossom Princesses and Queens - Renaissance Hotel - April 7
"My Neighbor Totoro" Children's Film - National Gallery of Art - April 7
Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony - Tidal Basin - April 8
Fans for Every Season - Freer/Sackler - April 9 & 10
Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival - April 14
Anime Artists - Freer/Sackler - April 14 & 15
Castles in the Sky Animation Screenings - Freer/Sackler - April 15
Billy Fox and the Kitsune Ensemble - National Gallery of Art - April 15
Cherry Blossom Festival Night - Nationals Park - April 17
Taiko Performance - The Kennedy Center - April 17
Lantern Making Family Day - The Yards Park - April 21
"Summer Wars" Children's Film - National Gallery of Art - April 21
Before Dawn Workshop - Freer/Sackler - April 21 & 22
"The Thousand Year Fire" Children's Film - National Gallery of Art - April 22
Tips to Make the Best of the Cherry Blossom Festival
- Print out the National Cherry Blossom Festival map
- Find exclusive deals throughout the Festival by picking up a Petal Pass at a local Capital One Bank
- Find restaurant deals in the Cherry Picks program
- View Metrobus and Metrorail station maps on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority website. The closest Metro Station to the Tidal Basin is the Smithsonian Station (Blue/Orange lines). Alternatively, the L’Enfant Plaza Station (Blue/Yellow/Green lines), 7th Street & Maryland Avenue exit, is only an extra 10-minute walk to the blossoms and much less crowded. AVOID travelling during rush hour. During rush hour the metro platforms can become extremely crowded and dangerous for little ones.
For a complete list of Cherry Blossom Festival events, updates, and transportation tips visit the National Cherry Blossom Festival website. Enjoy!