Tag Archives: Sakura Matsuri

Weekend Plans TBD…

Look for Abe rolling down Constitution Avenue tomorrow. The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade is ON!

My recommendations for family recreation this weekend hinge on one sort of major detail:  the potential government shutdown.  There is a good chance many scheduled events will be postponed or even canceled altogether because of federal agency furloughs and museum closures.   So, I’m just going to list the events that will definitely be “on” first with the “maybe” picks to follow.  No matter the outcome of today’s talks at the Capitol, you’ll find ways to have a good time with the kids. Happy Weekend!


National Cherry Blossom Festival ParadeThe mac daddy of cherry blossom festivities is happening on Saturday no matter what, according to the Washington Post Breaking News Blog.  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 from 7th to 17th Streets. (Note: the route will likely be shortened this year, so I will post an update as soon as I hear more.) The parade begins at 10am and lasts about two hours.  Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $17, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free.  Plan to arrive early to get a good view.

Sakura Matsuri Immediately following the 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, a Children’s Corner with storytelling, origami, Japanese games, calligraphy, and more.  Festivities go on until 6pm, and there is a $5 charge for adults (free for children under 12).

See a LEGO Master at Work On Saturday and Sunday, the master behind the National Building Museum’s “LEGO® Architecture” exhibit will be in the Great Hall constructing a new piece – the White House! — for the collection. And you’re invited to watch it happen.  See this post from a couple of weeks ago for details.

Boogie Down at Eastern MarketCelebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival with the Boogie Babes! The Festival’s Music of Spring program includes a Children’s Stage at the Market’s North Hall where some of Boogie Babes’ regular performers will entertain kids throughout the day. On the schedule:  Saturday – 10:30am John Henry, The Guitar Playing Man 1:30pm Crash Chord, 4pm The Singing Lizard.  Sunday -10:30am Bridgette with Dawn on Bongos, 1:30pm Bridgette with Dawn on Bongos, 4pm Groovy Nate. Suggested $10/family for the performer.

Airplanes, soccer, and a little R&R at Gravelly Point

Picnic, Play, & PlanesHave you been to Gravelly Point, the small park along the GW Parkway next to Ronald Reagan Airport?  I just recommended it a few weekends ago, but am bringing it into the mix again because Sunday will be a great day to go.  The beautiful spot along the river is nice place to spread out a picnic, people watch, and kick around a soccer ball  — if you really like airplanes.  I have to warn about this one:  it’s hit or miss with kids (and adults, for that matter).  The park is located just beyond the airport runway, so planes take off or land (depending on which way they are going that day) literally right overhead. That’s the hit or miss part — it’s loud and potentially scary for those who don’t like the looks of a plane coming right at them, but quite exciting for those that love a thrill.

Annual Easter Egg Hunt and Marshmallow HarvestStart your Easter celebration a little early at Great Country Farms. The Loudoun County working farm well known for its u-pick produce and seasonal celebrations its holding is annual Egg Hunt and Marshmallow Harvest this weekend.  Along with the main festivities, admission ($10/kids, $12/adults) grants access to loads of fun on the farm.  For details, see this post from yesterday.

Good News The Newseum is turning 3 and to celebrate, tickets will be buy one, get one free this weekend.  This is a good opportunity to check out the museum dedicated to all things media if you’ve never been, since there’s a good chance most of the city’s other museums will be closed.

Au Pair Cultural FairAre you curious about au pairs as a childcare option? On Saturday, Au Pair in America invites families to their Cultural Fair at Glen Echo Park to learn more about their programs.  It’s a family affair with an afternoon of fun activities for all ages.  For more info, see this post from a few days ago.

See Becks Bend ItPut a little sports action into your weekend at a soccer match on Saturday evening.   The DC United is taking on the LA Galaxy – yes, the David Beckham will be in the house!  Tickets are still available for the 7:30pm game.  Visit the DC United website to purchase online.

Show TimeSeveral productions will be on stages this weekend, including George and Martha – Tons of Fun opening at Imagination Stage tomorrow and Synetic Theater’s The Magic Paintbrush, which has been so successful, they are doing two weeks of encore performances. For info on tickets and more live entertainment in town, see this post on spring shows in the area.

Everyone’s PlaygroundEnjoy one of the best playgrounds in the area. If you have young children, and you haven’t been to Clemyjontri Park, I highly recommend taking them there. Since the park is privately funded, it will be open this weekend. The play possibilities there will seem endless to little ones.  And the beautiful fairytale-themed carousel is now open for the season.  Read more about the Clemyjontri in this post from last summer.


Blossom Kite FestivalRescheduled for Sunday after being postponed due to inclement weather, this is definitely one of the most anticipated events this weekend.  And to think there is a very good chance it will be canceled again!  If the Festival does, indeed, happen on Sunday, it’s going to be great – the weather forecast is looking ideal for kite-flying, and there is sure to be a celebratory spirit — along with the kites — in the air.

White House Garden ToursThis weekend is your chance to enjoy spring at the White House — and you don’t need to win a lottery to do it.  The annual Spring Garden and Grounds Tours are being held on Saturday and Sunday.  And gaining admission to the event is as easy as picking up tickets the day of.  For more details and info on how to get tickets, see this post from last week.

Born to Be Wild 3DThis heart-warming film about the bond between humans and animals opens at the Johnson IMAX Theater today. Documenting orphaned orangutans and elephants and the extraordinary people who rescue and raise them, this is a movie all ages will adore.  My longer review will come soon, but the short of it is that I highly recommended taking your kids to see it.  For a longer description of the film, see this post from last week (note: the giveaway has ended).  Tickets are $9. You can see the film on Friday, but the Natural History Museum, where the Johnson IMAX is located, might be closed this weekend.

Earth Day Family CelebrationReduce, Reuse, Recycle! On Saturday, the Smithsonian American Art Museum will teach guests how to turn their trash into artwork they’ll treasure. Artist David Edgar will show kids how to make fantastic creatures out of yogurt cartons and musician Billy B. will be on stage to help rock the planet! This free event runs from 11:30am – 3pm.

Super Science Saturday: How Things FlyHead to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center on Saturday for a day of aero fun. 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.  The event runs from 10am – 3pm. Parking is $15, but admission is free.


Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Deal, Farm, Festival, Free, Holidays, Monuments & Memorials, Movies, Museums, Outdoor, Parade, Seasonal, Sports, Spring, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend

DC in Bloom: The 2011 National Cherry Blossom Festival

A 2-year-old Owen delights in the blossoms

It’s just a matter of time until DC is at its prettiest. The National Park Service recently announced the peak dates of our famous cherry blossoms:  March 29 – April 3.  And the timing couldn’t be better.  Not only does the dazzling flower display coincide with the start of spring, it occurs during the 2011 National Cherry Blossom Festival, over two weeks of special events, including tons of entertainment and fun activities for all ages.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs from March 26 – April 10, is more than just a celebration of spring and its namesake flowers.  It also honors the friendship between the U.S. and Japan, who gifted us with the cherry trees, a relationship especially significant in light of the devastation the country just endured.  A wonderful way to acknowledge our Japanese friends is with contribution to relief efforts.  If you’d like to make a donation, consider these charitable organizations:
American Red Cross
Mercy Corps
Doctors Without Borders
International Medical Corps

As for the Festival, it’s chock full of activities for families to enjoy.  Here are select events and dates to mark on your calendar.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Family Day and Opening Ceremony
Saturday, March 26
The National Cherry Blossom Festival will kick off with a Family Day at the National Building Museum from 10am – 3:30pm before the official Opening Ceremony from 4–5:30pm.  The free, drop-in program will feature hands-on activities and exciting indoor and outdoor performances that celebrate spring and explore Japanese arts and design.

Performance Stage at Sylvan Theater
Saturday, March 26 – Sunday, April 10
In the shadow of the Washington Monument, this is the Festival’s primary stage. Enjoy recognized and diverse talent from around the region, country, and world, including varied genres of music and dance, martial arts exhibitions, marching bands, and more. Free performances can be enjoyed from 12-5pm on weekdays and 12-6pm on weekends.

Music of Spring at Eastern Market
Saturday & Sunday, Marc 26-27 & April 9-10
Along with several children’s performances presented by the Boogie Babes, there will be upbeat, springtime jazz, world-beat, Americana, classical, and spoken word in the street, on the plazas, and in Eastern Market’s newly restored North Hall.

Our dragon kite from last year's festival

Blossom Kite Festival
Sunday, March 27
Rescheduled for Sunday, April 10
Even before having kids, this was one of my favorite DC activities. With babes in tow, it’s even better. The sight of thousands of colorful kites of all shapes and sizes flying in the air around the Washington Monument is a sight to behold.  And imagining it from my kids’ perspectives adds a touch of magic to it all.   So, when I say kites of all shapes and sizes, I don’t just mean the typical diamonds and triangles; the sails you see at the festival each spring get a little more sophisticated than that.  There are sharks, butterflies, giant soccer balls, even some that look like intricate works of art.  While the festival is open to the public to come fly their kites, there is some competition and exhibition to witness, 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.   The Festival is free and will run from 10am – 4pm.

ImaginAsia Family Program: Painted Parasols
Sunday, March 27
At 2pm, at the Freer Gallery Courtyard, kids ages 8-14 (suggested ages) can participate in a hands-on art activity reminiscent of Japanese culture as they paint a paper parasol to carry as they visit the cherry blossom trees around the Tidal Basin. Find inspiration in some of the gallery’s exhibits that depict spring flower motifs in the clothes and accessories of Japanese women as they stroll through parks in springtime.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Family Fun Day at The Yards Park
Saturday, April 2
There are two things we can count on as spring begins in DC: cherry blossoms and the start of the baseball season.  You can celebrate both at the Yards Park, the centerpiece of the new Capitol Riverfront area. The Family Fun Day will include kids activities like boat making and moonbouncing, lantern making for all ages, Trapeze School, Japanese performers and music, a variety of Japanese cuisine from Nooshi Sushi, and Sake tasting and a Japanese beer garden (for adults, of course) from Mie N Yu.  The event is free and open to the public from 11am – 4pm.

DISC Cherry Blossom Regatta
Saturday, April 2
Young boat enthusiasts will love watching sailboats from Daingerfield Island Sailing Club (DISC) and Potomac River Sailing Association race near Hains Point and East Potomac Park on the Potomac and Anacostia rivers with cherry trees lining the shore. You can probably get a good view of the boats from the Yards Park during the Family Fun Day.  For a view from the water, the M/V PATRIOT II, the official spectator boat of the regatta and DC Harbor Cruises’ new luxury catamaran, will offer a special Cherry Blossom Regatta cruise.

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
Saturday, April 2
Another 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 live music and family-friendly festivities starting at 1pm. The grand finale will begin at 8:30pm when the National Cherry Blossom Festival Fireworks Show lights up the night sky.

Clifford at the Cherry Blossom Parade

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Saturday, April 9
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 from 7th to 17th Streets.  The parade begins at 10am and last about two hours.  Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $17, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free.  Plan to arrive early t get a good view — the crowds come out for this one, especially if it’s a nice day.

Sakura Matsuri
Saturday, April 9
Immediately following the 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, a Children’s Corner with storytelling, origami, Japanese games, calligraphy, and more.  Festivities go on until 6pm, and there is a $5 charge for adults (free for children under 12).


Filed under All ages, DC, Eats, Festival, Free, Live Entertainment, Monuments & Memorials, Music, Outdoor, Parade, Seasonal, Spring

A Grand Welcome to the Weekend

It’s time to say sayonara to the cherry blossoms, and it feels like they just arrived. But as we wind down the festival that welcomes spring, the seasonal fun is just getting started.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is coming to an end, but not before its grand finale, the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. The procession of giant balloon characters, marching bands, and a mix of performers traveling through the city is easily a highlight of the weekend. On Saturday from 10am – 12pm, catch the spectacle on Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th Streets. Word has it that Elmo and Kermit will be floating overhead along with air-filled cherry blossoms and Japanese lanterns. On ground, catch entertainment by the cast of Ford Theatre’s “Little Shop of Horrors,” Justin Guarini (from American Idol Season 1), The All-Star Tap Team, high school marching bands, Irish danceers, and Japanese drummers. More than 100,000 spectators show up for the parade each year, so get there early to stake out your spot along the route if you don’t have tickets for grandstand seats.

After the parade, head over to 12th and Pennsylvania Ave. NW for Sakura Matsuri. Part of the Cherry Blossom Festival, this annual Japanese street festival is a celebration of Japanese culture, with everything from traditonal food and drink to martial arts and samurai swordsmen. There will be arts and crafts, live performances, karate and sumo demos, and more. At the Children’s Corner, kids can take part in activities like origami, storytelling, and traditional games. The festival runs from 11am – 6pm. Admission is free.

If your kids like their entertainment in the form of sports, the Harlem Globetrotters will score big with them. The comical hoopsters are playing/performing at the Verizon Center this Saturday at 1pm. Ticket prices vary depending on seat location. Check the Ticketmaster website for availability.

We can’t discuss weekend activities without mentioning museums, and there are several cool events happening in the coming days. On Saturday, the National Air & Space Museum presents “Explore the Universe” as part of its Hertiage Series Family Day. From 10am – 3pm throughout the museum on the National Mall, visitors can check out the sky through telescopes, build an astrolabe and pocket solar clock, learn about different cultural significances of the sky, and enjoy stories and astronomy-related activities. Admission to both the museum and event is free.

Young sleuths will love the KidSpy Festival, part of the annual Spy Fest at the International Spy Museum on Sunday. Here’s their chance to see if they have the chops to be the next James Bond or Mata Hari. Experts will be on hand to demo tricks of the trade like cracking codes and secret writing. Participants can then put their spy skills to the test during mini-missions. Program times are 11am and 12:30pm. Tickets are $10. Recommended for children ages 7 and up.

In other museum event news, the Newseum is hosting Junior Journalist Family Day on Sunday. Children ages 6 and up can learn tips from the pros through a variety of journalistic activities that incorporate everything from reporting and broadcasting to cartooning and editing. And the event coincides with the Newseum’s 2nd birthday when tickets are buy-one-get-one-free (be sure to mention the “Second Birthday Deal” to get in on it).

Finally, if you just want to go at your own pace and enjoy the spring weather, Great Falls Park, about 20 minutes of outside of the city, is always good bet. With miles of trails and spectacular views of the Potomac’s waterfals and churning rapids, the park is great place for hikes, picnics, and family bonding time. On the Maryland side, the Billy Goat Trail guarantees a good workout and great scenery. The Virginia side has more open space to run and play and more tables to eat al fresco. Great Falls is open from 7am until dark. Admission is $5 per vehicle, $3 per individual on foot, bike, or horse.

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