The National Cherry Blossom Festival is just getting underway, but we’re already in the pink. Each week of the festival, which runs through April 14, we’ll be highlighting some of the not-to-miss events and activities. The opening ceremony Saturday is sold out, but there’s still plenty to do in the coming days. For a complete list of blossom-related events, go to wapo.st/cherry2013.
— Kathy Orton
Think you know everything there is to know about the cherry trees? Well, how about the cherry tree rebellion of 1938, when a group of women chained themselves together to prevent the trees from being removed during construction of the Jefferson Memorial? “It just shows how popular the trees had become by that time,” says Lowell Fry, one of the National Park Service rangers who leads the Lantern Walks and who knows all kinds of blossom facts and trivia. The Park Service conducts blossom tours during the day, but we prefer the charm of a twilight ramble. Fry recommends wearing sturdy shoes and dressing for the weather.
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 8 to 10 p.m., March 23 to April 7. National Park Service Welcome Tent at the Tidal Basin. 202-426-6841. www.nps.gov/cherry. Free.
This two-day festival at the National Building Museum can barely be contained in the venue’s Great Hall. Activities include performances by the Nen Daiko taiko drummers, the Shizumi Kodomo Dance Troupe, the Grammy-winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus and the Warrenton Ballet Company. “It’s a nice mix of cultural performances throughout both days, highlighting Japanese culture through many different avenues,” says Sally Otis, family programs manager at the museum. Kids of all ages can learn how Japanese culture has influenced architecture by building tea houses and shoji screens. They also can construct cherry trees out of popcorn, decorate wind chimes, create spring-themed pinwheels and friendship bracelets, and make paper dolls. Another highlight: You can try on traditional Japanese clothing and have your hair styled into cherry-blossom-inspired ’dos.
Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. 202-272-2448. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org . Admission to the festival is free, but there is a charge for the museum’s exhibit spaces.
If your children are interested in Japan, head to Japanese Culture Day at the Library of Congress and check out the “Japan-in-a-Suitcase” programs. Kids will get a taste of what it’s like to grow up in Japan by trying on traditional clothing, learning how to greet one another, writing their names in Japanese, playing with traditional and contemporary toys and games and getting a look inside a typical Japanese student’s backpack. “Through these activities,” says Mari Nakahara, one of the library’s reference specialists, “the library attempts to get the young generation interested in Japanese culture, which may draw their further interest to learn more about Japan and Japanese language, and to consider the U.S.-Japan friendship/relationship in the future.”
Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The “Japan-in-a-Suitcase” programs are at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Library of Congress, Jefferson Building, Young Readers Center, LJG29, 10 First St. SE. 202-707-9203. www.loc.gov . Free.
This kite-making workshop was so popular last year that the Corcoran Gallery of Art is opening it up to twice as many participants this year. Even so, register early so you won’t miss your chance to design a kite for the following week’s Kite Festival on the Washington Monument grounds. The museum provides all the materials; you provide the inspiration. “It really allows the visitors to create their own personal and creative kites,” says Jocelyn Kho, the museum’s senior manager of youth and family programs.