Tag Archives: 2012 National Cherry Blossom Festival

The Weekend Round-Up: April 13-15

Root for Racing Presidents (Let Teddy Win!) at the Cherry Blossom Parade or a Nats game


Wow.  There is a LOT going on this weekend. A grand parade, the old ball game, a street festival, fun on the farm, all sorts of live entertainment, a film fest, special workshops for kids, museum programs, and much (yes, much!) more.  The big dilemma: Which to choose?  Here’s the scoop on all of them to help you decide. Happy Weekend!

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue NW, from 7th to 17th Streets
When: Saturday, 10am – 12:30pm
Admission: Free
The mac daddy of cherry blossom festivities is definitely 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. This year, catch an American Idol finalist, The Voice winner, gymnastics shows, and 80’s pop idol Debbie Gibson. Other celebrity appearances will include Kristi Yamaguchi, Marie Osmond, Debbie Gibson, and Buzz Aldrin. And Katie Couric and Alex Trebec will be hosting ABC’s coverage of the parade. 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 nice day.

Nationals vs. Reds
Where: Nationals Park
When: Friday 7:05pm, Saturday 4:05pm, Sunday 1:35pm
Admission: Starts at $10
The Nats are back for their first series of the regular season against the Cincinnati Reds. Tickets are available for all of the games, and there are some special promos going on including Family Fun Days, Signature Sundays, Kids Run the Bases. For details on all of them, see this post from a couple of days ago. Or, go straight to the Nationals website to purchase your tickets.

Sakura Matsuri
Where: 12th Street & Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
When: Saturday, April 14, 11am – 6pm
Admission: $5/ages 13 and older
Immediately 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. Stretching down six city blocks from 9th to 14th Streets on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, there will be live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. Be prepared for a crowd.

Spring Garden Market
Where: River Farm
When: Friday 9am – 6pm, Saturday 9am – 3pm
Admission: Free
The American Horticultural Society’s Spring Garden Market features a variety of vendors of plants, garden supplies, garden art, and other related products. But the real reason to bring the kids is for the garden, especially the Children’s Gardens, which have got to be among the loveliest outdoor play spaces in the DC area. For more about the locale, see this post from a few days ago.

Shake Up Your Saturday!
Where: Folger Shakespeare library
When: Saturday, 9:30-11:30am
Admission: $35/one child & one adult, $10/each additional child
Children in grades 1 through 5 can immerse themselves in Shakespeare’s world as they are introduced the language of his plays and stage combat. Master Swordsman Brad Waller will teach performance-based techniques, and students will perform a scene from Macbeth! Registration is required: Email educate@folger.edu or call 202.675.0395.

For Your Entertainment
Where: Various venues
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by performance

If you’re looking for live entertainment this weekend, you’ve got your pick of performances starting with a Boogie Babes show at the Atlas this morning (Friday) at 10:30am. Tomorrow, catch a free jazz performance for kids at the National Theatre. Or see Gustafer Yellowgold as he returns to Jammin’ Java. Septime Weber’s Alice (in wonderland) at the Kennedy Center is getting wonderful reviews. The Puppet Co. just introduced their newest production, Pinocchio and has Tiny Tots shows on the line-up as well. Also at the Kennedy Center are Sleeping Beauty and an NSO Kinderkonzert. Imagination Stage presents their version of Rapunzel. And The Gift will give its final performances tonight and tomorrow evening at Round House Theatre. For more details on all of these shows, see this post about spring entertainment.

Lowe’s Build and Grow
Where: Lowes stores throughout the area
When: Saturday, 10am
Admission: Free
It’s another Build and Grow clinic at the home improvement store. Lowe’s hosts free bimonthly workshops for kids, and during this session guests can build a Game Show Chip Drop Game. The store will provide all the materials, along with goggles, an apron, and other goodies to take home. We still haven’t been to one yet, but friends have, and they gave it a great review. Go here to find your local Lowe’s and register for the workshop.

Unbuilt LEGO Washington
Where: National building Museum
When: Saturday, 10am – 12:30pm
Admission: $15/members, $20 non-members
Inspired by the Museum’s exhibition Unbuilt Washington exhibit, join the Museum and staff from Play-Well Teknologies for an exciting LEGO® Build. Design your own buildings that you think should be added to our nation’s capital. Recommended for ages 6 and up. Free for adults accompanying children. Prepaid registration required.

Discovering the Titanic
Where: National Museum of Natural History
When: 1-3pm
Admission: Free
Find out how archaeologists study shipwrecks during this session of the museum’s Second Saturday Arts & Sciences program. NOAA archaeologists will be on hand to help guests work with images of Titanic artifacts, placing them on a giant sonar image of the Titanic site. Then, learn how photomosaics of compiled images are used to visualize something of Titanic’s magnitude at such a depth. Of course, there’s plenty more to explore while you’re at the museum – this post has a run-down of some of our favorite exhibits.

Filmfest DC – Eleanor’s Secret
Where: Goethe-Institut Washington
When: Saturday,
The 26th annual International Film Festival includes a kids’ offering this weekend and next. Eleanor’s Secret, a French animated film from an Academy-Award-nominated director, tells the story of a magic library where characters from classic children’s books come alive. The film will be presented in English and is an excellent opportunity for local children to view a film they would not otherwise see.

Royal Mail Ship Titanic Centennial
Where: National Postal Museum
When: Saturday, 12-3:30pm
Admission: Free
Many know about the story of the Titanic disaster, but not that it was a floating post office. During this free Family Day program, guests can learn about life on board the fated ship and the postal workers who processed tons of mail at sea through hands-on activities taking place in the museum’s atrium. The workshop is being presented in connection with the exhibit Fire & Ice: Hindenburg and Titanic.

Where: CHAW
When: Saturday, 11am – 1:30pm
Admission: Free
The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop is celebrating its 4oth anniversary in street festival meets flash mob style. ArtsNOW will feature free classes and demonstrations in ceramics, visual arts, and Zumba; performances by CHAW’s private music instructors, Suzuki violinists, ballet students, and theater groups; a gallery scavenger hunt by the Capitol Hill Art League, and much more. CHAW also invites the community to join hands outside the building at 11:40am in an interconnecting community moment requiring 1600 hands. CHAW is located at 545 7th Street SE.

Japanese Films at the Freer
Where: Freer Gallery
When: Sunday, 11am, 1:30pm, 4pm, & 7pm
Admission: Free, tickets required
The Smithsonian museum showcasing Asian Art is presents four Japanese films as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival offerings. The first film, Ponyo, has a G rating is appropraite for young viewers. Reviews of the other three, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away call them darker and suggest they are more suitable for older children, especially those interested in anime. Tickets for all films (limit two per person) will be available beginning at 10:30am. Additional tickets will be made available 30 minutes before each screening.

West African Dance Workshop
Where: Bloombars
When: Saturday, 12-3pm
Admission: $20 suggested donation
Dance your way around the world this weekend! Bloombars’ Blooming Dance Program is hosting a West African Dance Workshop with instructor Afrika Dances. Students will learn various authentic West African dance styles during the three-hour class that includes a warm-up, breakdown of dance steps, and choreographed routines. Recommended for ages 5 and up, the workshop is $20 (pay at the door). RSVP to afrika_dances@yahoo.com.

Celebrate National Volunteer Month
Where: National Children’s Museum Launch Zone
When: Saturday, 11am -4pm
Admission: Free

April is National Volunteer Month and the NCM wants to provide kids with information on ways to give back. Join them to create create heart suncatchers for The Children’s Inn of NIH for their “Thoughtful Treasures” program. In addition, friends from RJ Smiles will be at the Launch Zone from 11am – 2pm to present a craft activity.

How Things Fly
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15
It’s a Super Science Saturday at the Dulles arm of the Arm & Space Museum. Through demonstrations and hands-on activities, visitors of all ages will become immersed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics topics related to aviation and space exploration. This month’s program will focus on “How Things Fly.”

Eggcellent Fun on the Farm
Where: Ticonderoga Farm & Butler’s Orchard
When:Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $11.95/Ticonderoga, $6.50-8.50/Butler’s

It’s the last of the spring/Easter celebrations at these two local farms. Ticonderoga will be open through Sunday 10am – 5pm, and Butler’s on Sunday only 9am – 3pm. For more on both festivals, see this KFDC post.

For even more (yes, more!), check out these posts with ideas for outdoor and indoor adventures:
The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids
Rainy Day Recreation (ie, Indoor Fun)

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Filed under All ages, Annual, Class, DC, Educational, Festival, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Parade, Seasonal, Sports, Spring, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend

Tips for Families Viewing the Cherry Blossoms

Peak time in DC

[Note: This was originally published last year, but since the tips always apply, I’m simply re-posting with a few minor updates.]

Taking the family to the National Mall to see some pretty flowers sounds easy enough. If only it actually was.  The cherry blossom peak is one of the best times to visit DC – the city is at it’s most beautiful, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival provides loads of fun activities — but viewing the famous blooms can also be a bit challenging without being aware of a few things.  Here are seven recommendations to consider if seeing the cherry blossoms is on your family’s spring agenda.

1. Don’t drive if you value your sanity. Take the Metro, ride the bus, bike, walk, jet pack.  Get here however you can, just leave the car at home.  Traffic is beyond frustrating during the cherry blossom peak, and your chances of finding decent parking are about as good as hitting the Powerball with Hurley’s numbers (okay, slight exaggeration, but it is hard).  The masses descend on Washington, DC, this time of year, and way too many do so in their vehicles.  Besides, kids love riding the Metro—it’s like an urban version of Hogwarts Express. The Smithsonian stop on the Blue/Orange Line is mere minutes from all of the blossom action, but it’s also guaranteed to be crowded. Consider riding to L’Enfant on Yellow/Green, Federal Center on Blue/Orange, or even a stop downtown or in Penn Quarter and taking a nice stroll to the blossoms. *If you absolutely must drive and need parking you might find a spot in Hains Point, where there is free and metered parking, then walk or take a shuttle ($1/person) to the Tidal Basin. Your best bet, though, might be to find a garage in the downtown or Penn Quarter area, then walk or Metro to the National Mall.

Weeknight Tidal Basin stroll last spring

2. Visit on a weekday if you have the flexibility.  Crowds are significantly smaller from Monday to Friday, so you can stroll around the Tidal Basin at a nice pace, and public transportation won’t be nearly as packed (though it still will be more crowded than usual).  If the kids are in school or daycare during the week, think about going later in the day.  I’ve always thought the National Mall and monuments look beautiful at sunset, and I bet the blossoms are just as sublime.

3. Consider using a child carrier instead of a stroller for little ones.  This is especially applicable if you take the Metro, since elevator lines can be very long and slow-going.  I learned my lesson a couple of years ago on a weekday and ended up taking my daughter out of the stroller and carrying both on the escalator, which was probably as unsafe as it was difficult.  Even if you don’t take Metro, a carrier is still a wise option.  Navigating crowded walkways while pushing a pram takes focus, and you could end up spending more time concentrating on not rolling over others’ heels than enjoying the sights you came to see. It’s a bonus for kids, too — perched on your back, your babe will get a better view of the blossoms.

4. Check the National Cherry Blossom Festival schedule, so you can plan your visit accordingly. Some of the city’s most anticipated events are part of the annual celebration, the Blossom Kite Festival, Southwest Waterfront Fireworks, and National Cherry Blossom Parade among them.  There will also be events and programs for families at the National Gallery of Art, the Freer-Sackler Galleries, and at the Yards Park .  All events take place close by the blossoms or are an easy Metro ride away.  See this post for dates and details on the best events for families.

Dragon kite from a festival past

5. Bring a kite to the Blossom Kite Festival.  If you don’t, your kid will never forgive you (and you’ll be pretty bummed, too).  When you see the sky flecked with brilliant colors and wild shapes, you’ll want to unravel a spool of string and let a sail fly, too. Even though there is an exhibition and competition aspect to the event, anyone can fly their kite along with even the most hardcore enthusiasts (that’s right, kiters can get hardcore…have you seen some of those stunts?).  If you don’t already have a kite, you can pick one up at Target or even CVS for about $5.

Playing under blossoms at the Arboretum

6. Seek out other spots to see the cherry blossoms if you don’t want to deal with crowds and chaos around the Tidal Basin and National Mall.  Several places around the DC-metro area are well known for their annual cherry blossom displays.  When I worked in Bethesda many years ago, it was an annual tradition for my colleagues and I to take a drive through Kenwood, a lovely neighborhood between Little Falls Parkway and River Road with cherry tree-lined streets. The National Arboretum also has a nice collection of the trees and offers a beautiful, peaceful environment in which to view them in bloom.  For even more suggestions for cherry blossoms minus the crowds, check out this Washingtonian article from a couple of years ago.

7. Don’t forget your camera to take advantage of some of the best photo ops DC offers.  The peak colors plus the monuments are about as  iconic as you can get when photographing Washington. Get your kids to sit still – or even let them run and play for a fun candid – and you’ve got this year’s holiday card.



Filed under DC, Seasonal, Spring