Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington D.C.

My husband and I were scheduled to attend The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D. C. this weekend, but unfortunately we had to stay home to attend a wake for a niece's father-in-law. A friend's daughter lives in DC, however, and was kind enough to share the photos she took of the festival with me, and I thought you might also enjoy seeing them.

"The National Cherry Blossom Festival annually commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, honoring the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and celebrating the continued close relationship between our two cultures.

A view of the Washington Monument through the cherry trees.

In a simple ceremony on March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees from Japan on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park. In 1915, the United States Government reciprocated with a gift of flowering dogwood trees to the people of Japan. A group of American school children reenacted the initial planting in 1927 and the first "festival” was held in 1935, sponsored by civic groups in the Nation’s Capital.

First Lady Lady Bird Johnson accepted 3,800 more trees in 1965. In 1981, the cycle of giving came full circle. Japanese horticulturists were given cuttings from our trees to replace some cherry trees in Japan which had been destroyed in a flood.

The Festival was expanded to two weeks in 1994 to accommodate a diverse activity schedule during the trees’ blooming. Today, more than a million people visit Washington, DC each year to admire the blossoming cherry trees and attend events that herald the beginning of spring in the Nation’s Capital.

The Festival looks forward to celebrating the centennial anniversary of the gift of trees in 2012 and is planning spectacular events to mark this historic and special occasion."
Everyone in DC looks forward to the first cherry blossoms heralding the arrival of Spring in the city. Many people head down to the Tidal Basin on their lunch break to escape the office and enjoy the view. Although my son attended his undergraduate college years in Washington DC we were never able to coordinate a visit during the festival period, as each year peek time changes due to weather conditions.

This year the festival was scheduled from March 28 to April 12, and the peak bloom date forecast was April 1.

As you can see the trees were very much in bloom this past weekend. In the photo above you can see how the trees rim the entire Tidal Basin.

The Cherry Blossom Festival begins with an opening ceremony and a Smithsonian Kite Festival. There is sushi tasting, Japanese street festivals, a 10-mile run, fireworks, and daily cultural performances at the Tidal Basin stage.

There are also blossoms elsewhere in the city, such as at the National Arboretum. It has 2,000 cherry tree species, most of which were created by arboretum researchers which aren't found at the Tidal Basin. The arboretum offers a self-guided tour of the blossoms, which may be done on foot or by car.

Some views of the Jefferson Memorial amongst the cherry trees.

Inside the Jefferson memorial looking up.

The Smithsonian Museum Castle building.

Washington DC is a wonderful place to visit any time of the year, but it's especially beautiful during cherry blossom time!

Thank you Lauren for sharing all your wonderful photos with us!

Edited to add:
I'm sure by now everyone has heard of the terrible earthquake in Abruzzo, Italy. We were relieved to know that no one in my husband's family live in that area, but we feel so sad for those that lost loved ones and their homes. Ciao Chow Linda did a post about the town of L'Aquila, one nearest the epicenter that was severely damaged, as she visited that town last fall. She gives links to reputable organizations where you can donate money if you wish to help. Please click on her name to go to that blog post. Thank you!


Gracie said...

This must be a very nice event! And thanks for your comment about the heartquake, I was there last year, the same places now almost destroyed and my heart is crying.

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Hi Pat!

What a beautiful post! Wash DC is such an awesome place to visit, I can't imagine how breathtaking it is with the cherry blossoms in full bloom!

Leo is growing so fast. He's adorable Pat! If you are with him when we are in NYC we understand completely. We will find our own excitement and make our way to the highlights. You would be a fabulous BONUS to the city!!!

Big hugs! Sherry

Have a blessed Easter Pat!

RoeH said...

We tried to get onto the Metro Saturday morning to go down to see them. But with those and a baseball game and a hockey game somewhere in DC town limits, the metro was crunched with people. So we gave that up and just went over to Rockville for lunch. The the littlest one was fussy so we came home. We'll try it probably Friday. Hope there blossoms left. It's been really cold here. Colder than my little Arizona skin can take.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Pat - I'm sorry you missed the DC festival, but did you know about the cherry trees in Newark's Branch Brook Park? The park was designed by Ohlmstead, the same guy who designed NYC's Central Park. One year we spent a day exploring Newark, which has had its share of problems to be sure, but there are wonderful things to see and do there too. Visit the park, the Newark Museum, the cathedral and finish up with dinner in the Ironbound, the Portuguese neighborhood. It would make a great post for you to write about and you'll have a good time too. Thanks for linking to my blog about Abruzzo and the earthquake.

Lisa's RetroStyle said...

Nice history lesson Pat! Lovely photos. I would love to visit DC at blossom time;)

Tracy said...

Breathtaking blossoms...*SIGH*...Sorry you had to miss such a grand outing, Pat. The blossoms will be there next year. :o) I have always wanted to see D.C. in blossom time...never had the chance! ((HUGS))

XUE said...

Greetings to you, from the land where those cherry blossom trees came from! Yes, we too are enjoying the beautiful sakura, right now.

Vee said...

Exquisite thank your friend's daughter...she's a wonderful photographer.

I visited Washington D.C. years ago in cherry blossom season and I've never forgotten. I'd love to see it once again.

Good to know that your husband's family is safe and sound. Brenda at Coffee Tea Books and Me recently shared a friend's blog who lives in Italy and posted some very compelling photographs of the destruction.

Tara said...

Hi Pat

We caught a drive through of the festival on our way to SC last weekend...being on vaca I did not hear about the earthquake but will pop over to that blog to see what is sadly going on!
Love Leo the rabbit, that gc of yours is VERY expressive and so adorable-HUGS_Tara

Melissa Miller said...

How beautiful and uplifting to see this beauty.

Thanks for sharing the photos Pat.

Have a wonderful and blessed day.
~Melissa :)

Unknown said...

aw...Pat, you've got my all time fav flower..and I am so wishing I could be there!! Hugs - m

Nola said...

I saw a documentary that told the story of the cherry trees, and was amazed. Isn't it nice that gardening can bring countries together (sort of). We should garden with other nations more, and maybe we'd war less!

Anonymous said...

I've been in DC at blossom time and it's beautiful! xox

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

I would love to go to DC during the Cherry Blossom festival! The pictures are so beautiful.

Judy said...

What great cherry blossom photos! So sorry you were not able to attend the festivities this year.

Your post reminded me of by-gone days...when our city hosted a cherry blossom festival every spring. I remember attending the parade...and seeing our own Cherry Princess on the float. The cherry festival ended about the same time desease destroyed most of the cherry orchards in our area.

Marg said...

Beautiful shots of the blossoms.
Such a wonderful time of year and you've really captured NY in Spring.
I think I need to put Washington DC on my list of travels.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Stunningly beautiful Pat! I would love to see that in person. So sorry about the death of your neices father in law.
Hus, Marie

Junie Moon said...

Having lived in the D.C. area for a number of years some time ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to see the gorgeous cherry blossoms in bloom. It's absolutely stunning. I hope you'll get another chance to go. I am so sorry for the loss in your family.

GMG said...

Hi Pat! Wow! I thought I had to fly to Tokyo, but it's much easier... ;) How can it be that I've never seen it in DC? Maybe I had never been there this season... ;)

Blogtrotter is showing you Brasilia. Enjoy and have a great and long Easter weekend!

aliceinparis said...

They are GORGEOUS! I can hardly wait for our trees and plants to start blooming:)

Susie Q said...

DC in April is so sweet. We were at the festival just once and were to be there last week! I was SO disappointed that we did not go but your pictures helped ease that pain! They were all at peak last week from what i have heard!

Your precious Leo is growing so! he is surely a cutie and so, so loved!


Rue said...

Hi Pat :)

Those trees are gorgeous and even better with some sushi ;)

Lauren's pictures are incredible!!

My thoughts are with all those affected in Italy. I'm worried about the next big one in California, because I fear it will be even worse. Can you imagine? I try not to.


Rue said...

Oh and thank you so much for your sweet words about Alex. I don't know anything, but as soon as I do I'll update :)


Lynn @The Vintage Nest said...

Hi Pat, I know we have not met before but I have seen you around at other's blogs and I am so glad you stopped by The Vintage Nest for a visit. I hope you'll visit often. I have been fortunate enough to have seen the Cherry blossoms up close and personal and it's a sight to behold. As a young person I used to get to be able to visit D.C.. When my grand-daughter gets a little older and comes for a visit I will definitely take her there. Have a super great day and Happy Easter. !:) Lynn

Just A Girl said...

Hi pat,
I had no idea they had such a thing as the Cherry Blossom Festival. I guess you learn something new every day :). I think the time lines are interesting tho :0!
I'm sorry to hear you missed it and hope you niece is doing OK. So sad.

xoxo Cori

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

Sorry to hear about your niece's father-in-law.

Stunning blossoms, huh? I definitely need to make it to that one day.

Unknown said...

Hi Pat,
Washington is one of my favorite to NYC of course. LOl

The pictures are awesome. Thanks for sharing.

I'm so glad your husband's family was safe.

I'm off to visit the link you gave.

:) Diane

Nana Trish is Living the Dream said...

I love these pics of Washington DC. Every time I have visited there I have loved it. So much beauty and so much history. The trees are just gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading your post. The cherry blossoms are beautiful. I hope you and your family have a very blessed and lovely Easter ♥

steviewren said...

Your friend's daughter had a perfect day to enjoy the festival. The trees are prettier than words can express. I hope you and hubby are able to see them for yourselves sometime.

Sue said...

Hi Pat, Thanks for sharing those pictures of DC. We were there a few years back and the trees were gorgeous!! Hope all is well and you have a Blessed Easter.

Elisa Day said...

Thank you for sharing those amazing photos!

Kat Mortensen said...

Sorry to hear your visit to Washington was postponed. How good of you to go to the wake instead - my condolences to your niece and her husband.
The pictures are still lovely. I recall the scene in "Lost in Translation" where Scarlett Johansson's character goes into the garden with the cherry blossoms. They are so delicate and lovely.

I hope you have a beautiful, blessed Easter, Pat.


The Summer Kitchen Girls said...

What beautiful pictures! I guess we didn't realize they had a festival for the Cherry Blossoms....but why now when they are so beautiful!

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

Breathtaking! Absolutely beautiful! Thank you Pat, for sharing these lovely photos!

jeanne said...

Dear Pat, your post made me so happy today. Your text explaining the history of the cherry trees was such a good read. I have always wanted to attend the Cherry Blossom Festival for many years now. One day I will be there to see for myself these amazing trees in bloom. Your friend took wonderful photos which I just love. How sweet of her to share.

Pat, I want to thank you for your kind comments about our loss recently. I have been by your blog a few times to say hello and tell you how much I appreciated your kindness and was distracted each time. My cousin and her dh are visiting from MI and they are 'not' computer people at all. I have found it very hard to visit my friends this week. I think we are getting back to a normal routine now.

Have a wonderful evening.


jeanne said...

Pat, I forgot to mention how much I appreciated your information about the earthquake. I am so glad your family is alright. This is a terrible tragedy and thank you for the link for donations.


Daziano said...

Preeeeettttyyyyyy!!! And here... it's still snowing!

jb said...

I just wanted to take the time to say, you have an amazing blog. Your pictures are stunning. It seemed like a great time. The chery blossoms are breath taking and i never knew you could go see them in DC, I thought I had to go to China...thanks for the lesson.

Once again great blog. I hope you drop by to my humble blog. I'm a pure breed Italian born in Italy but now live in Canada. l love my heritage alot and i make it know to all friends i'm Italian first and foremost...not canadian. They all just laugh at me.


Willow said...

Thank you for sharing the Cherry Blossom Festival with us!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I am sure it's a stunning sight. I'm sorry you had to miss it this year.

I share your concern and sorrow for the people of Italy. Terrible news.

Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

How absolutely beautiful! I need to put this event on my bucket list.

Kathy said...

Again Pat another beautiful post, those trees are incredible, I am sorry you did not get to go and I am really sorry for the heartbreaking news from Italy, my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Abruzzo. Kathy.

CatHerder said...

I am 10 minutes from Warinaco park in jersey where they have the festival every year.......and i have yet to witness it :-( I really need to get out more! HAPPY EASTER!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to read about the loss in your family. May he rest in peace.

The cherry blossom photos are beautiful. There is always next year to go. Right?


Anonymous said...

With the grands and new house, so very absent from the web and world. Thank you for this post. I've read about the Cherry Festival, great to see it and know the history. Also, thank you for the info about the earthquake. Glad all of yours safe.

GailO said...

...Your friend's daughter has shared some absolutely gorgeous photos!...I was able to go to the DC Cherry festival once but it was before I really became interested in is obviously a real photo op! sorry to hear of the recent death within your family circle...and also of all the devastation in Italy...

Thank you again for your wonderful posts!

Betsy Brock said...

Breath taking! Absolutely gorgeous...I can see why it is popular to go to DC during this season!

Gina said...

Absolutely stunning blossom Pat! Looks like you're having some lovely Spring weather there..wishing you and your family a very happy Easter..I guess little Leo is to young for chocolate but hope he enjoys his first Easter "D Gxox

Sue said...

Hi Pat....the most beautiful time of the year in's a shame it doesn't last a bit longer...We have only had the chance to go once during cherry blossom season but I sure would love to go back again....