There are 3,700 cherry trees along the Tidal Basin, the partially man-made inlet along the Potomac River between the Jefferson Memorial and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C. Thanks to an initiative that started back in 1912 with a gift of cherry trees from Japan to the U.S., this stretch of the capitol is awash in pink for a two weeks each year.
The National Park Service Website outlines the history of how cherry trees have become such a prominent feature of D.C. each spring. The first cherry tree planting ceremony included First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, the wife of the Japanese ambassador to the United States. Each of them planted one of the trees that still bloom.
According to the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s official website, the blossoms will be at their peak April 1-April 4, and the festival will continue through April 12. There are several festival related activities that accompany the blooming.
For example, the National Park Service is offering the following programs throughout the festival.
- Ranger Guided Nature Lantern Walks–From 8 to 10 p.m, during these two-hour guided lantern walks, rangers talk about the history of the cherry trees as visitors enjoy the blossoms.
- Interpretive Cherry Blossom Talks- Even if you come to each of these talks, you’ll get a different story. Different park rangers offer a variety of stories connected to the cherry trees.
- Ranger-led Bike Tours: These are three-hour bike trips that go from Hains Point to beyond the Washington Monument.
For details about any of these National Park Service activities, check out the programs page.
The Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival is next Saturday, April 4. The festival includes: five stages featuring a variety of performances from singing to dance; food booths; Japanese crafts and art; and children’s activities. For performance schedule, click here.