National Cherry Blossom Festival - Washington, D.C.

The Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival showcases the blooms--and Japanese roots--of the cherry trees that shower the Nation’s Capital with color each spring.
Kim Hisako Cross

Spring blushes into Washington, D.C., in a rush of pink that's reason enough for a party. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs through the first couple of weeks of April, celebrates the 3,700 cherry trees that burst into color near the Tidal Basin. Festival events span two weeks, but if you can only pick one day to go, consider the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival.

A festival within a festival, the Sakura Matsuri celebrates the roots of the blooms: Japan's gift of 3,000 blossoming cherry trees to D.C. in 1912. (We gave them dogwoods in return.)

If you’ve ever wanted to explore the Far East without the passport and price tag, this is your cup of (green) tea. Admire kimono-clad women (including many Americans) walking down Pennsylvania Avenue. Hear the rhythmic thunder of taiko drums. Watch dance exhibitions, buy a bonsai tree, and sample authentic Japanese fare (far beyond sushi). The street fair, which follows the Parade of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, is the nation's largest exhibition of Japanese culture.

Find the fun on Pennsylvania Avenue between 10th and 14th Streets and also on 12th Street between Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues. Sample sake and green tea, learn to tie an obi (sash), or try your hand at the art of Japanese papermaking.

Cherries on the Menu
During the two-week national festival, many Washington, D.C., restaurants feature special cherry-inspired dishes. Find a list of these establishments at www.washington.org/cherryblossom.


"Pretty in Pink" is from the April 2008 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.