The Outside Line

With the Cherry Blossoms Coming On, It's Time To Get to the Tidal Basin

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

This year's National Cherry Blossom Festival takes place March 31 through April 15, and there are plenty of activities for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. Bike or hike around the Tidal Basin and take in the sweet smell of spring surrounded by a spectacular view.

Cherry Blossom Regatta -- The very first Cherry Blossom sailing regatta will commence this year. Local sailing enthusiasts are invited to race down the Potomac River beginning at Hains Point. About 15 to 20 teams are expected to participate and registration is still open through April 2. The winning boat will receive a free power wash. Sailors can register at Washington Sailing Marina. Spectators can view the sailboats on race day from East Potomac Park or Hains Point. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. April 7. Washington Sailing Marina, 1 Marina Dr., Alexandria. Free. To register or for information, call 703-548-9027 or visit www.washington%sailingmarina.com.

Bike Tours -- If you want to learn cherry blossom history while getting some spring exercise, then gear up and join the National Park Service for a two- to three-hour tour around the Tidal Basin. Tours are scheduled throughout the festival. Meet at the bottom of the steps of the Jefferson Memorial with your bike, helmet, water and some snacks. Bikers can stay for as much of the tour as they want. 1-4 p.m. March 31, April 1, 7, 8, 14 and 15. Jefferson Memorial Plaza near the Tidal Basin. For information visit, www.nps.gov/cherry.

Lantern Hikes -- The National Park Service will lead guided hikes at night around the Tidal Basin. Participants will receive traditional Japanese lanterns to use as a light source. The 1.5-mile hike will take about two hours. 8 p.m. March 31, April 1, 4, 7, 8, 11, 14 and 15. Meet at the Tidal Basin Paddle Boat parking lot, 1501 Maine Ave. SW. Free. For information visit, www.nps.gov/cherry.

41st Annual Smithsonian Kite Festival -- In the spirit of Japan's gift of cherry blossom trees, this year's festival honors Japanese culture. On the day of the event, participants can compete in a kite-making competition, a hot tricks showdown and a traditional Rokkaku battle, where teams battle each other for sole control of flying space. Representatives from various kite organizations will lead hands-on activities and teach kite flying skills. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 31. Rain date April 1. Washington Monument Grounds, Constitution Avenue and 17th Street NW. Free. For information call, 202-357-3030 or visit www.kitefestival.org.

-- Lauren Wiseman

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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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