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- Q: What is the National Cherry Blossom Festival?
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual tribute to the friendship between the U.S. and Japan.
It celebrates the 1912 gift of trees from Tokyo to D.C.
The National Park Service has much more on the history on its website.
- Q: When is the festival?
The 2021 National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 20 to April 17.
D.C.’s cherry blossoms are expected to peak between March 22 and March 25 this year.
This year’s theme is “Rediscover Spring.”
- Q: What's the best way to see the blossoms?
Undoubtedly in person at the Tidal Basin.
The Cherry Blossom Festival site has a PDF map for people to download or print out with landmarks and transportation guidance.
And, of course, there’s also the Bloom Cam.
Organizers estimate that about 1.5 million people attend events during the four-week festival.
- Q: Any changes to Metro?
Metro is boosting weekend train service for Cherry Blossom season.
The increase in service starts March 19 and runs until April 17.
Metrorail said it will will operate as many trains as possible, matching weekday service levels – every 10 minutes on the Red Line and 20 minutes on all other lines. In Downtown, where most stations are served by multiple lines, trains will arrive every 6-10 minutes.
“Cherry Blossom season is one of the biggest attractions of the year and Metrorail is stepping up service to better serve customers,” Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld said in a statement. “Metro is one of the best ways to get around, and with a $2 flat fare for any one-way trip on weekends it’s even more affordable.”
- Q: Will cold weather hurt the blossoms?
The National Park Service thinks the blossoms will be able to ride out frigid weather and put on “glorious show.”
Snow is actually not a problem for the trees, said Litterst, spokesman for the National Mall. Freezing temperatures are another story.
“What we’re definitely keeping an eye on are the temperatures this coming weekend,” he told WTOP on Thursday. “Blossoms can be damaged starting at 27 degrees; 24 degrees is a critical temperature. You can lose 90% of the blossoms. And I think the forecast lows this weekend are 25 and 21 (degrees) on Saturday and Sunday.
Damage tends to occur during stage five of blooming. “The fact that we’re only stage two, maybe stage three, we should be able to ride this one out,” Litterst said.
That means peak bloom is still expected to occur between March 22 and March 25 this year.
- Q: Will there be a parade?
The four weeks of programming include the traditional opening ceremony and parade, along with performances, food, arts and cultural events. Restaurants and hotels across the city will also be offering special blossom-themed packages.
- Q: Will there be an opening ceremony?
Performers include the Minyo Crusaders, Keisho Oohno and Toshihiro Yuta, and Samurai Artist KAMUI.
- Q: What are some of the events?
The embassy’s Japan Information and Culture Center will be among the venues hosting festival-related exhibitions throughout the city. Other events include:
- The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on Constitution Avenue, featuring floats and entertainment by Taylor Dane, Freddie Jackson, Tag Team and others (April 9);
- The Blossom Kite Festival on the Washington Monument grounds (March 26);
- Petal Porches, where various neighborhoods in D.C., Maryland and Virginia decorate their porches in pink;
- Art in Bloom, showcasing community-wide installations of oversize cherry blossom statues painted by local and international artists;
- Petalpalooza at the Capitol Riverfront, with live music on three outdoor stages, interactive art installations, activities, a beer and wine garden, roving performers and a fireworks show (April 16).
- Q: Are there COVID-19 and safety guidelines?
You bet there are.
- All fans must provide either proof of a negative COVID-19 test result, taken within 72 hours of the event, or proof of full COVID-19 vaccination (14 days past final vaccination shot).
- Negative COVID-19 tests, taken within 72 hours of the event, are required for guests from ages 3 to 12. Fans 2 & Under do not require testing.
- Live Nation will accept all FDA allowed COVID-19 PCR, Antigen, or Molecular Tests, that is date and time stamped, within 72 hours of the event.
- Masks are required at all times, except when actively eating and drinking.
- Bag Policy: The venue will only allow clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC tote bags no larger than 12″ x 6″ x 12″ and/or small clutch bags (4.5″x 6.5″).
WTOP’s Anna Gawel contributed to this report.
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