Spring is in full bloom around most of the United States (sorry to exclude the few unfortunate states that are still receiving snow).
On the East Coast one of the most renowned festivals celebrating spring is in fill swing, the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.! This festival, if you have never attended, is a month long celebration in D.C. that has a lot of events that are wonderful to attend whether you are single, a couple, a couple of friends or a family, there is really something there for everyone.
If you have ever been to D.C. in the summer you will have seen these trees in bloom but this festival is centered around an historical event as well as celebrating the first bloom of the year, which is quite an astounding thing to see and should be on everyone’s bucket list of things to see!
A little history on the Cherry Blossom Festival…Each year, starting in mid March and concluding in mid April, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries.
Since this is such a huge event there are some tips you might want to look out for if you plan to visit D.C. during this time.
- Check the website (www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org) for all listed events, there are a lot all across the city so don’t feel like you have to try and hit all of them. Pick and choose your favorites, many of the events also happen multiple times (i.e. every night there are light shows projected onto buildings across the city that you can watch)
- A lot of the events are free and very family friendly – so if you are working on a budget don’t feel limited to what you can participate in.
- Plan a head – if there are certain events that you want to attend check the website if tickets are required and if so, get them early. In my experience these tickets sell fast so try and purchase them early…sooner the better.
- If you are staying at a hotel (or planning a trip for the following year) book early. Like the event tickets hotel rooms book fast and are more expensive during the festival. Also, many hotels offer a guide to the festival you can find for free in the lobby, it has a full list of events, maps, history and other useful pieces of information. I would suggest picking one up.
- DO NOT TRY AND DRIVE – since this is a city wide event, often times there are road closures and parking will take you longer to find a spot than it will take you to attend the event. Working on a budget or wanting to save yourself the headache? Take public transportation. Purchasing a subway pass for several days, even if you are staying the entire month is much cheaper than trying to pay for parking and fighting for the limited spaces and very easy to do. Another fun way to travel the city is renting a bicycle! My husband and I did this and it was such a great experience! We were able to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the festival without wearing ourselves down with walking everywhere. We road from the Washington Memorial all the way down to the Arlington Cemetery and it only took us about a half an hour and we didn’t have to deal with traffic. There are lots of options for companies to book through, or you can do what we did and just walk up to one, fill out paperwork and ride away! So whether you plan for it or it is spare of the moment there are plenty of places to accommodate.
- PARTAKE! There is so much to see, do and eat! This is a great festival to educate yourselves and your family about another culture, see their traditions, eat the food, hear their music and be entertained by their dances and performances. I highly suggest attending this festival, make it a bucket list item.
Other suggestions for traveling in D.C. – be mindful of spring break. Personally, I didn’t think about spring break because I had been homeschooled my whole life and we didn’t pay much attention to spring break we just took trips whenever. This was a mistake on my part…if you plan to go to the Smithsonians (which I highly suggest)…go early. The buses full of kids tend to arrive after 10 and if you want to avoid most of the line then plan on heading out early.
All-in-all…enjoy yourself. This was one of the most influential festivals I have ever attended in my life and I highly suggest it to anyone thinking about going. Not only are you able to pair it with a trip to our Nation’s Capital but you are able to see and experience things about the city that most people aren’t able too when they visit during the rest of the year.
Walk around! There are vendors on the lawn of the National Mall, kites being flown on a sunny day with just enough wind, live music dispersed around the city and I can say that for the many times I have visited the Capital during different times of the year, visiting now during the festival I can truly say that the city feels ALIVE! Everything is in bloom and for any photographer this is a picture perfect setting for some astounding photos!
Traveling Photographer Out…