Tag Archives: Blossom Kite Festival

The Best Activities for Families During the 2019 Cherry Blossom Season



Cherry blossom season is almost upon us, and it’s time to start getting ready for it! Because not only is the city at its prettiest when the beloved flowers are in bloom, there also are loads of special events and activities to celebrate it all. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, running March 20 – April 13 this year, presents all kinds of fun and enriching activities over several weeks, plus there are even more blossom-inspired happenings that aren’t part of the official festivities. I’ve picked the best of them for families to help you plan for a peak experience. And for viewing the blossoms, check out these KFDC tips. Happy Spring!

In Peak Bloom
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: March 20 – May 27
Admission: $16-20/adult, $8-10/child

ARTECHOUSE is bringing cherry blossoms to a digital realm, celebrating spring, renewal, and the cherry blossom season with this art experience. In Peak Bloom will feature interactive and immersive digital art installations inspired by the fragile beauty and ephemeral nature of the cherry blossom. The cherry blossom’s distinctive short life span is closely tied to its cultural significance — reminding us of how precious and fleeting life is — and also part of what makes its blooming period such a cherished spectacle.

Cultural Performances
Where: Tidal Basin Welcome Area
When: Weekends, March 23 – April 14
Admission: Free

Catch live entertainment as you take in views of the blossoms! On weekends during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, there will be music and dance performances on a special stage set up at the Tidal Basin Welcome Area. A highlight will be the Sakura Takio Takeover on March 30 from 11am – 5pm!

Cherry Blossom Family Festival
Where: American Art Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: March 23, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Join the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Cherry Blossom Festival for a celebration of Japanese culture. Kick off the day with a taiko drumming performance outside of the museum at the F Street entrance. Enjoy face painting, make cherry blossom crafts, listen to Japanese music, and go on a spring-themed scavenger hunt through the museum’s galleries.

Japanese Culture Day
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: March 23, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Children of all ages and their families can learn about Japanese culture through reading, writing, and craft-making with Japanese cultural and linguistic professionals. Japanese-related books will be on display, and a special highlight of the day is “Japan-In-A-Suitcase,” an inspiring program about Japanese life and culture. Other activities include Japanese drum music and dance performances, instructions on the art of tiara-making by former Cherry Blossom princesses, origami artwork lessons, decorative Konobori coloring, and the kimono dress-up experience. Children can also explore the Library’s Young Readers Center, which is full of current and classic children’s literature – read more about it here.

Go with the Flow
Where: Local waterways
When: Starting mid-March
Admission: Rates vary

Get a new perspective of the blossom and enjoy a fun activity on a paddling excursion. Many boathouses will open around the same time the National Cherry Blossom Festival begins, offering canoe, kayak, and other rentals to take you out on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers and Tidal Bason, where you can see the blooming cherry trees from the water. This KFDC post has more information on where to go with the flow around DC.

River Cruisin’
Where: Local waterways
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by tour operator

Enjoy blossom filled scenery from the comfort of a cruise on the Potomac. Several companies offer boat rides along the river, many of them specifically for the season when the cherry trees are in bloom. Right now you can find great deals with Boomerang Boat Tours and National Ferry Fleet. Capitol River Cruises, Potomac Riverboat Company, and DC Water Taxi are a few more to check out.

STORYTIME: Call Me Tree
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: March 27, 10-11am
Admission: Free

Join the Hirshhorn for a special STORYTIME, their regular program for littles, and take a trip to the depths of the earth and discover what can grow from it. Visit the round bronze sculptures Spatial Concept: Nature by Lucio Fontana, hear a reading of Call Me Tree by Maya Christina González, then do a related hands-on activity.

Blossom Kite Festival
Where: Washington Monument Grounds | National Mall, DC
When: March 30, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

The annual Blossom Kite Festival is a favorite for many during the blossom season. The sight of thousands of kites in all colors, shapes, and sizes soaring around the Washington Monument truly is a sight to behold. The sails you see flying at the Festival each spring range from simple to pretty darn creative. Dragons, sharks, butterflies, giant soccer balls, even some that look like big, beautiful origami works way outnumber your basic diamond. And anyone can go fly their kites, so BYO or make one there at an activity station. There’s a competition aspect to the event, too; expert kite enthusiasts will wow crowds with cool stunts, and prizes will be awarded to winners of various categories such as most beautiful, funniest, and aerodynamics.

A cherry blossom dream at last year’s ARTECHOUSE spring exhibit

Blossoms & Baseball
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: April 3
Admission: Ticket price vary

The Nats are getting in on the Cherry Blossom festivities this year with a petal-packed, pink takeover of Nationals Park as they host the Phillies. A portion of ticket proceeds from the game will also benefit the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Cherry Blossom STEM Day
Where: Children’s Science Center Lab | Fairfax, VA
When: April 6, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $13

Celebrate the Cherry Blossom Festival with a twist of STEM! Guests will be able to experiment with Flower Pigmentation. Visitors will press or rub flower petals onto a coffee filter, and with water added, witness the process of different pigmentation (ie, which colors will appear for the different types of flowers). Surprise and wonder may come as to how many colors will reveal themselves out of one colored petal. Read more about the Children’s Science Center Lab in this KFDC post.

Open Studio: Celebrate the Cherry Blossom Festival
Where: Freer|Sackler Gallery | National Mall, DC
When: April 6, 10am – 12pm & April 13, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

Take a family-friendly tour and learn about nature in Japanese art (10:30am on 4/6, 12:30pm & 2:30pm on 4/13). Then, continue to explore the Freer for pop-up art-making activities with FutureMakers and artist demonstrations inspired by the spring season. All ages are welcome with adult companions.

Ikebana Floral Design Workshop for Kids
Where: Green Spring Garden | Alexandria, VA
When: April 6
Admission: $15

Kids ages 8-14 can try their hand at creating a Japanese-style floral design influenced by the flowering cherry trees. Instructor Elizabeth Berry will introduce kids to this Asian art and help them create a small arrangement of their own to take home. Register in advance. Read more about Green Spring Gardens in this KFDC post.

Petalpalooza
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: April 6, 12-9:30pm
Admission: Free

It’s a full day of live music and engaging activities at The Wharf! Petalpalooza will feature live music on multiple outdoor stages, a beer garden, all-ages activities, product giveaways, a spectacular fireworks show by Pyrotecnico, and much more along the piers of the Southwest Waterfront. Take in the half-mile-long stretch of The Wharf’s shops and restaurants as the National Cherry Blossom Festival transforms the waterfront community into a one-day-only springtime spectacle. Read more about The Wharf in this KFDC post.

Community Day: Growing Community
Where: National Building Museum | Judiciary Square, DC
When: April 7, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the playfulness of spring at the National Building Museum during this program offered as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival! Participate in hands-on activities and learn from community partners as you explore how landscape design can inspire outdoor play to grow and strengthen community. Take a closer look at the green space incorporated into your built environment that gets people outside and brings them together.

Art Blooms at Mosaic
Where: Mosaic District | McLean, VA
When: April 7, 11am – 5pm
Admission: Free

This inaugural National Cherry Blossom Festival event brings an immersive and participatory art experience to Northern Virginia. Shop the UrbnMarket handmade and vintage craft fair, join interactive art classes and demonstrations, enjoy live music and entertainment, and watch the Cherry Tree planting and dedication. There will also be a Caboose Beer Garden for adults.

Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting
Where: Tidal Basin | Southwest, DC
When: April 7, 3-4:30pm
Admission: Free

Nestled under the cherry blossom trees on the Tidal Basin, this ceremony includes remarks by top US officials and Japanese diplomats as well as traditional songs and music performed by Toho Koto Society of Washington DC and the Washington DC Choral Society.

Cherry Blossom Night at DC United
Where: Audi Field | Southwest DC
When: April 9, 7:45pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary

Support local sports and be a part of the Cherry Blossom Festival at once! DC United’s home match against Montreal Impact will include cherry blossom-themed activations, activities, and celebrations for fans along with the action on the pitch. Score tickets here.

Millennium Stage: Taiko Drumming and Traditional Dance
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: April 12, 6pm
Admission: Free

This Target Family Night at Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage features a Japanese performance that all ages will enjoy. Thundering taiko drumming meets traditional Japanese dance as nearly 30 drummers and dancers from Tamagawa University and Taiko Group take the stage. The performers make up one of Japan’s top-ranking taiko groups coming out of the premier arts university in Japan.

See Racing Presidents rolling down Constitution Ave at the annual parade

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th St NW | Downtown DC
When: April 13, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

The pinnacle of cherry blossom festivities easily is the parade. Thousands of people line Constitution Avenue every year to watch the procession of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and a variety of performers roll through the city. Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $20, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free. Plan to arrive early to get a good view — the crowds come out for this one, especially if it’s a pretty spring day.

Sakura Matsuri
Where: Pennsylvania Ave, 3rd-7th St NW | Downtown DC
When: April 13, 10:30am – 6pm
Admission: $10/ages 13+, free/12 & under

Following the Cherry Blossom parade, many folks head over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture. The 59th annual event will feature live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. Be prepared for a crowd.

Into The Woods
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park | Herndon, VA
When: April 13, 11:30am – 1:30pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the season trekking on Frying Pan’s nature trail to experience the changes of spring. Visit stations peppered throughout the trail to build a fairy house, help tally migratory and year round resident birds, and search for critters in the soil and water. Enjoy Japanese teas at the historic Frying Pan Meeting House. Stop by the Indoor Arena first for a map and instructions.

Ikebana for Kids
Where: National Arboretum | Northeast DC
When: April 13, 1-2pm
Admission: $25

Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arranging, and kids ages 10 to 13 can spend an hour with a trained ikebana teacher qualified to teach young people this ancient art. Your child will take home a beautiful living flower arrangement as part of the workshop. All materials will be provided. Registration by April 5 is required.

Sakura Sunday
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: April 14, 11am – 8pm
Admission: Free

This year, National Harbor will be joining the DC region in the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. Sakura Sunday will feature a wide array of fincluding traditional Japanese picnicking with food available for sale; a sake, rosé and beer garden; a Japanese Market; and Japanese-inspired music and entertainment. Restaurants and retailers will also participate in special offers and a cherry blossom store display window competition, and The Capital Wheel will turn pink during the festival. Muse Paintbar will feature cherry blossom art classes and a live painting demonstration as well.

Anacostia River Festival
Where: Anacostia Park | Southeast DC
When: April 14, 1-5pm (POSTPONED to April 20)
Admission: Free

The 5th annual Anacostia River Festival is once again a premier event and official closing of the 2019 National Cherry Blossom Festival! Celebrate the Anacostia River with some fun outdoor recreation! Explore the river by canoe, ride in a bike parade, play lawn games with your family, and experience Southeast DC’s local arts scene.


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The Best Family Events to Celebrate the 2018 Cherry Blossom Season in DC

Peak time around the National Mall



We’re about to hit one of the best times of the year in DC: Cherry Blossom Season! Not only is the city at its prettiest when the famous flowers are in bloom, there are also loads of special events and activities to celebrate it. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, running March 17 – April 15 this year, presents all kinds of fun and enriching opportunities over several weeks, plus there are even more blossom-inspired happenings that aren’t part of the official festivities. Here are the best of them for families to help plan for a peak experience. And for tips on viewing the blossoms, check out this post. Happy Spring!

Sakura Dream
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: March 15 – May 6
Admission: $15/adult

ARTECHOUSE is celebrating spring, renewal, and the cherry blossom season with a new immersive and interactive digital experience. And if past installations there are any indication, this one is going to be amazing — and popular! In Sakura Dream, step into a moonlit, floating environment where larger than life koi fish and colorful cherry blossom petals react to your presence. Contemplate the beautiful and ephemeral nature of life over an interactive 3D sculpture of a koi pond and walk narrow lantern lit “street” that respond to your footsteps.

Cultural Performances
Where: Tidal Basin Welcome Area
When: March 17 – April 1
Admission: Free

Catch live entertainment as you take in views of the blossoms! During the bloom season and most of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, there will be music and dance performances on a special stage set up at the Tidal Basin Welcome Area. Enjoy them daily starting March 15 from 12-6pm.

Bloomia Field of Tulips
Where: The Park at CityCenterDC | Downtown DC
When: March 23-24
Admission: Free

Spring into the season with DC’s very own Tulip Festival! For two days only, The Park at CityCenter will be filled with more than 40,000 tulips per day. Entry into the garden is free, and you can take a piece of spring home with you for $1/stem. Every purchase made supports DC Central Kitchen.

Cherry Blossom Celebration
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: March 24, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Join a celebration of Japanese culture! A taiko drumming performance kicks off the day, followed by Japanese music and dance performances, face painting, and cherry-blossom themed crafts. Make your own tatebanko (a Japanese paper diorama) with friends from the Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler Asian art museums, take a scavenger hunt to find spring themed artworks, and more! The event takes place in the Museum’s beautiful, glass covered Kogod Courtyard.

Friendship Between Nations Family Day
Where: National Archives | National Mall, DC
When: March 24, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Join the National Archives for a fun, activity filled day exploring the many ways countries show their friendship, such as the gift of the cherry blossoms from Japan to the US. Investigate treaties, learn about some of the crazy gifts countries have given, and participate in interactive activities designed for the entire family to enjoy.

Go fly a kite at the Washington Monument!

Blossom Kite Festival
Where: Washington Monument Grounds | National Mall, DC
When: March 31, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Go fly a kite! Seriously. The Kite Festival is probably my favorite event of the blossom season. The sight of thousands of kites in all colors, shapes, and sizes soaring around the Washington Monument is truly a sight to behold. It’s magical for kids — and even for me as a jaded adult! The sails you see flying at the Festival each spring range from simple to pretty darn creative. Dragons, sharks, butterflies, giant soccer balls, even some that look like big, beautiful origami works way outnumber your basic diamond. And anyone can go fly their kites, so BYO or make one there at an activity station. There’s a competition aspect to the event, too; expert kite enthusiasts will wow crowds with cool stunts, and prizes will be awarded to winners of various categories such as most beautiful, funniest, and aerodynamics.

Growing Community
Where: National Building Museum | Judiciary Square, DC
When: March 31, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

All ages can drop in to explore how nature can be intentionally integrated into and around built spaces to help promote community and encourage civic engagement. Work with friends and family to design and build a large scale model of your own green space inspired by a park in your neighborhood or one you would like to see added to your community. Find out more about the importance of green space in urban areas during Ten (minute) Talks and a spring-inspired story time.

Cherry Blossom Day at the Lab
Where: Children’s Science Center Lab | Fairfax, VA
When: March 31, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $13

Fuse science and cherry blossoms and fun at the Lab! Visitors will create their own unique representation of a cherry blossom. Learn and grow crystals, explore the world of chemical reactions, solubility, and become chemists. Design your own cherry blossom petal, flower, or tree to take home and celebrate the Cherry Blossom Festival. Read more about the Children’s Science Center Lab in this KFDC post.

Paints, Pigments, Brushes: All about Japanese Painting
Where: Freer|Sackler Gallery | National Mall, DC
When: March 31, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

Enter the world of traditional Japanese painting, or nihonga, in this drop-in Open Studio workshop celebrating the National Cherry Blossom Festival. View a display of colorful pigments and brushes, and try making your own painting alongside visiting Japanese artists Ideguchi Yuki and Iwaizumi Kei. All ages welcome with adult companions.

Japanese Culture Day
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: April 7
Admission: Free

Learn Japanese culture through reading, writing, and craft making with Japanese cultural and linguistic professionals. Cherry Blossom princesses from the last few years will instruct children in the art of tiara-making. And the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC, will present “Japan-In-A-Suitcase,” a program about Japanese life and culture. Tad Hills, an American children’s book author and illustrator, will be joining the Japanese Culture Day for a book reading/signing. He plans to read “How Rocket Learned to Read.” Children can also explore the Library’s Young Readers Center, which is full of current and classic children’s literature – read more about it here.

Open Studio: Celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival
Where: Freer|Sackler Gallery | National Mall, DC
When: April 7, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival with the Freer|Sackler! Take a family-friendly tour and learn about nature in Japanese art (10:30 am). Then, continue to explore the Freer for pop-up art-making activities and artist demonstrations inspired by the spring season. All ages welcome with adult companions.

Family Fun: Japanese Brush Painting
Where: Green Spring Gardens | Alexandria, VA
When: April 7, 1-2:30pm
Admission: $10

Celebrate the blooming of the cherry trees and Japanese culture with Asian sumi-e brush painting at Green Spring Gardens for kids (5 years and up) and their parents. Learn about the materials and brush strokes used in this beautiful art style and take home your own brush painting masterpiece. Art materials provided. Plan for time before or after to explore the beautiful ground. Read more about Green Spring Gardens in this KFDC post.

Cherry Blossom Fun
Where: Room and Board | 14th Street NW
When: April 7, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Join Room and Board for a morning of creative activities celebrating the National Cherry Blossom Festival and Japanese culture. Kids of all ages can make candy sushi, listen to story time, and have an anime caricature drawn of them. Parents are invited to enjoy beverages from a special tea station.

Petalpalooza
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: April 7, 2-9:30pm
Admission: Free

Formerly known as the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival, Petalpalooza will include interactive art installations, larger-than-life games and activities, live music on three outdoor stages, a roller rink, a beer garden, a spectacular fireworks show by Pyrotecnico, and much more along the piers of the Southwest Waterfront, the “home of the cherry blossoms.”

Lantern Lighting & Cherry Blossom Princesses
Where: Tidal Basin | Southwest, DC
When: April 8, 3pm
Admission: Free

Children will be inspired by the beauty of the Cherry Blossom Princesses dressed in their pink kimonos. The Cherry Blossom Princess Program is an educational and cultural program for women aged 19-24 from across the United States, including leadership workshops, building public speaking skills, and creating connections that can help with college applications and future employment. The princesses light the 8.5-foot-tall Japanese stone lantern at the Tidal Basin as part of a truly spectacular celebration of the festival and the enduring friendship between Japan and the United States.

Catch Racing Presidents sightings at the Cherry Blossom Parade!

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th St NW | Downtown DC
When: April 14, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

The pinnacle of cherry blossom festivities is easily the parade. Thousands of people line Constitution Avenue every year to watch the spectacle of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and a variety of performers travel down Constitution Avenue. Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $20, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free. Plan to arrive early to get a good view — the crowds come out for this one, especially if it’s a pretty spring day.

Sakura Matsuri
Where: Pennsylvania Ave, 3rd-7th St NW | Downtown DC
When: April 14, 10:30am – 6pm
Admission: $10/ages 13+, free/12 & under

Following the Cherry Blossom parade, many folks head over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture. There will be live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. All at a new location in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. Be prepared for a crowd.

Ikebana
Where: National Arboretum | Northeast DC
When: April 15, 1-2pm
Admission: $10

Children can learn the centuries-old tradition of Japanese flower arranging at an ikebana workshop at the National Arboretum. The hour-long workshop is for children ages 10-13. You can also visit an ikebana demonstration and see the Ikebana International exhibit at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum Exhibits Gallery. Registration required.

Anacostia River Festival
Where: Anacostia Park | Southeast DC
When: April 15, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

The National Park Service and the 11th Street Bridge Park present the 4th annual Anacostia River Festival, also a premier event of the 2018 National Cherry Blossom Festival! Celebrate the Anacostia River with some fun outdoor recreation! Explore the river by canoe, ride in a bike parade, play lawn games with your family, and experience Southeast DC’s local arts scene. This year’s festival will also celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Anacostia Park and the Year of the Anacostia — a year-long invitation to honor its history.

J-POP
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom
When: April 18
Admission: Free

At the daily Millennium Stage show, New York-based pop singer Kana Uemura will perform “J-Pop”, Japanese pop music and American pop music at a free concert suitable for children. Her play list includes her hit song “Goddess of the Toilet,” a whimsical ballad dedicated to her late grandmother who told her there was a god of beauty living in the toilet and if she cleaned the toilet carefully, she would grow up to be beautiful. Her song inspired both tears and laughter across Japan and was a #1 hit.

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The Best Events of the 2017 Cherry Blossom Season for Families

blossoms_picnic

There’s much more to cherry blossom season in DC than just the famous flowers. The National Cherry Blossom Festival makes it a great celebration with all kinds of events over several weeks, plus there are even more blossom-inspired happenings that aren’t part of the official festival. Here are the best of them for families to help plan for a peak blossom experience. And be sure to check out this post, too, with tips for cherry blossom viewing. Happy spring!

Cultural Performances
Where: Tidal Basin Welcome Area
When: March 15 – April 2
Admission: Free

Catch live entertainment as you take in views of the blossoms! During the bloom season and most of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, there will be music and dance performances on a special stage set up at the Tidal Basin Welcome Area. Enjoy them daily starting March 15 from 12-6pm.

Cherry Blossom Celebration
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum
When: March 25
Admission: Free

Celebration of Japanese culture in the beauitful Kogod Courtyard! A taiko drumming performance will kick off the day, followed by Japanese music and dance performances, face painting, and cherry-blossom themed crafts. Make your own tatebanko (a Japanese paper diorama) with friends from the Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler Gallery, go on a scavenger hunt to find spring themed artworks, and more!

Japanese Culture Day
Where: Library of Congress Young Readers Center
When: March 25
Admission: Free

Learn about Japanese culture as you create origami artwork creation, try on kimonos, and enjoy more other activities. Cherry Blossom princesses from the last few years will instruct children in the art of tiara-making. At 11am and 1:30pm, the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC, will present “Japan-In-A-Suitcase,” a program about Japanese life and culture. Following each of these presentations, there will be a karate demonstration along with other attractions. Children can also explore the Library’s Young Readers Center, which is full of current and classic children’s literature – read more about it here.

Friendship Between Nations Family Day
Where: National Archives
When: March 25, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Join the National Archives for a fun, activity filled day exploring the many ways countries show their friendship, such as the gift of the cherry blossoms from Japan to the US. Investigate treaties, learn about some of the crazy gifts countries have given, and participate in interactive activities designed for the entire family to enjoy.

Kites of Asia Heritage Family Day
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: March 25, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Get ready for the Blossom Kite Festival and celebrate spring and Asian heritage! At the Air & Space Museum’s annual event, you can talk to kite experts, see pan-Asian kite displays, marvel at indoor kite flying, make your own kite, and maybe even take a dance lesson!

Go fly a kite on the National Mall!

Go fly a kite on the National Mall!

Blossom Kite Festival
Where: Washington Monument Grounds
When: April 1, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Go fly a kite! Seriously. The Kite Festival is probably my favorite event of the blossom season. The sight of thousands of kites in all colors, shapes, and sizes soaring around the Washington Monument is truly a sight to behold. It’s magical for kids — and even for me as a jaded adult! The sails you see flying at the Festival each spring range from simple to pretty darn creative. Dragons, sharks, butterflies, giant soccer balls, even some that look like big, beautiful origami works way outnumber your basic diamond. And anyone can go fly their kites, so BYO or make one there at an activity station. There’s a competition aspect to the event, too; expert kite enthusiasts will wow crowds with cool stunts, and prizes will be awarded to winners of various categories such as most beautiful, funniest, and aerodynamics.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th Streets NW
When: April 8, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

The pinnacle of cherry blossom festivities is easily the parade. Thousands of people line Constitution Avenue every year to watch the spectacle of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and a variety of performers travel down Constitution Avenue. Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $20, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free. Plan to arrive early to get a good view — the crowds come out for this one, especially if it’s a pretty spring day.

Sakura Matsuri
Where: M Street & New Jersey Ave. SE
When: April 8, 10:30am – 6pm
Admission: $8/ages 13 and up in advance, free for 12 and under

Following the Cherry Blossom parade, many folks head over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture. There will be live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. All at a new location in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. Be prepared for a crowd.

Family Workshop: Japanese Woodblock Printing
Where: Sackler Gallery
When: April 8-9, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

In celebration of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, join the Sackler for opening weekend of Inventing Utamaro and free family activities! In this Open Studio, witness firsthand the beauty and complexity of Japanese woodblock prints. Take a family-friendly tour (offered at 12:30pm and 2:30pm) of the exhibition, then explore traditional tools and papers. A teaching artist demonstrates transferring designs to a block, carving, and basic printing techniques. Come prepared to get your hands inky. All ages welcome!

Anacostia River Festival
Where: Anacostia Park
When: April 9
Admission: Free

The National Park Service and the 11th Street Bridge Park present the 3rd annual Anacostia River Festival, also a premier event of the 2017 National Cherry Blossom Festival! Celebrate the Anacostia River with some fun outdoor recreation! Explore the river by canoe, ride in a bike parade, play lawn games with your family, and experience Southeast DC’s local arts scene. This year they’re celebrating biking in the District with trail rides, safety classes, quick bike tune ups, and special bike activities for all ages.

Family Afternoon: Design with Nature
Where: National Building Museum
When: April 9, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

All ages can drop in for creative hands-on activities, a community garden design project, and opportunities to learn about Japanese art and design. See how nature is intentionally integrated into the built world, different ways people design with nature, and how nature can inspire design in and around built spaces. Learn about symbolism of the natural world across cultures and make connections between springtime symbolism, design, nature, and the built world they live in.

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
Where: Southwest Waterfront
When: April 15, 2-9:30pm
Admission: Free

This event that takes place along the District Wharf and the Titanic Memorial on the Southwest Waterfront is one of the last of the festival this year. It’s an afternoon and part-evening affair with free live music and family-friendly festivities, including water-related activities, cultural experiences, and delicious foods. The grand finale will begin at 8:30pm when the National Cherry Blossom Festival Fireworks Show lights up the night sky.


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Make Some Family Plans for the 2016 National Cherry Blossom Festival

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With the National Park Service’s recent announcement of the predicted cherry blossom peak (March 31 – April 3) and the Capital Weather Gang’s declaration that winter is over and spring is on, it’s time to talk celebration. And the National Cherry Blossom Festival, along with a couple of museums, have it all figured out for us with several weeks of events and activities to enjoy during the prettiest time of year in DC. Here are the best of them for families to help you have a peak blossom experience. Happy spring! (Update: The National Park Service revised their prediction, and the peak is now expected March 18-23.)

Asia Heritage Family Day
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: March 19, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Get ready for the Blossom Kite Festival and celebrate spring and Asian Heritage! Talk to kite experts, see pan-Asian kite displays, marvel at indoor kite flying, make your own kite, and maybe even take a dance lesson! This year’s Kites of Asia Heritage Family Day will have a special focus on Nepal and India.

Make an Okinawan Textile Craft
Where: GW Museum & Textile Museum
When: March 18-20
Admission: Free

Discover Okinawa at this three-day celebration for all ages! Try your hand at origami, traditional bingata painting, and other art activities. Enjoy children’s stories, dance performances, and karate demonstrations. Learn about the geography and natural environment of the island, sample Okinawan treats, and take home a local souvenir. Check the website to see the schedule of events each day.

Family Day at the Building Museum
Where: National Building Museum
When: March 26
Admission: Free

The National Building Museum is hosting their annual event to kick off the cherry blossoms celebration family-style. And they’re doing it with a nod to the National Park Service’s Centennial Anniversary. The day will feature hands-on fun and games focused on parks, planning, landscape design, and architecture. Activities will include folding origami masterpieces, designing a memorial for the National Mall, constructing a tatebanko diorama, meeting DuAro (Kawasaki’s robot), trying on traditional Japanese clothing, and learning more about the National Park Service’s milestone celebration.

Blossom Kite Festival
Where: Washington Monument Grounds
When: April 2, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Go fly a kite! Seriously. The Kite Festival is, in my opinion, the best event during cherry blossom season (when the weather cooperates, anyway). The sight of thousands of kites in all colors, shapes, and sizes soaring around the Washington Monument is truly a sight to behold. It’s absolutely magical for my kids, and even for me as a jaded adult. The sails you see flying at the Festival each spring range from simple to pretty darn creative. Dragons, sharks, butterflies, giant soccer balls, even some that look like intricate works of art actually outnumber your basic diamond. And anyone can go fly their kites, so be sure to bring one. There’s a competition aspect to the event, too; expert kite enthusiasts will wow crowds with cool stunts, and prizes will be awarded to winners of various categories such as most beautiful, funniest, and aerodynamics.

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
Where: Southwest Waterfront, 600 Water Street SW
When: April 9, 1-9pm
Admission: Free

A fun family event happening along the water is the annual fireworks show at the Southwest Waterfront. It’s an all-day and part-evening affair with free live music and family-friendly festivities, including water-related activities, cultural experiences, and delicious foods. The grand finale will begin at 8:30pm when the National Cherry Blossom Festival Fireworks Show lights up the night sky.

Family Workshop: Paper Trails
Where: Sackler Gallery
When: April 10 & 16, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

In celebration of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, explore the importance of paper across Asian artmaking traditions. With educators from the Freer|Sackler and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, use traditional Japanese papers and bookmaking tools and techniques to create your own artist’s book. This program is designed for children ages 6–12 and adults to enjoy together.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th Streets NW
When: April 16, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

The pinnacle of cherry blossom festivities is easily the parade. Thousands of people line Constitution Avenue every year to watch the spectacle of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and a variety of performers travel down Constitution Avenue. Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $20, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free. Plan to arrive early to get a good view — the crowds come out for this one, especially if it’s a pretty spring day.

Sakura Matsuri
Where: M Street & New Jersey Ave. SE
When: April 16, 10:30am – 6pm
Admission: $8/ages 13 and up in advance, free for 12 and under

Following the Cherry Blossom parade, many folks head right over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture. There will be live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. All at a new location in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. Be prepared for a crowd.


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