The time has come to forget the rigors of winter and enjoy the season at hand, and what better place to do so than the nation's capital during cherry blossom time?
The cherry trees were a gift from the mayor of Tokyo. They were presented in 1912 as an expression of friendship between Japan and the United States.
The festival opens today with the lighting of a 300-year-old Japanese lantern and a ceremony and concert at 3 p.m. at the Sylvan Theater on Washington Monument grounds. Throughout the afternoon the annual Cherry Blossom Arts Festival will be held along the Southwest waterfront. American and Japanese artists will display their work for sale from noon until dark. One more event is the Cherry Blossom Polo Cup at 1 p.m. at West Potomac Park.
The week continues with receptions, sports events, a grand ball, a parade, a fashion show, demonstrations, exhibitions and daily noon concerts at the Sylvan Theater and in the park at Farragut Square and Freedom Plaza.
A luncheon-fashion show will be held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel Tuesday at 11 a.m. That evening, the Washington Harbor Splash at the Georgetown Waterfront will feature entertainment, food and music. On Wednesday, Japanese sushi chefs will demonstrate their skills at Phillips Flagship Restaurant at 7:30 p.m., and the Beethoven Society of Washington will sponsor a Spring Pops Concert at the Department of Interior Auditorium at 8 p.m. A Potomac River luncheon cruise is scheduled on the "Spirit of Washington" on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. from Pier 4, Sixth and Water streets.
Friday's agenda includes a noon concert by Koto players and the Melissa Walker jazz quartet at Freedom Plaza, 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, and a grand ball and banquet at the Sheraton Washington Hotel beginning at 6 p.m. A highlight of the evening will be the crowning of the cherry blossom queen. Tickets are required for the luncheon/fashion show, cruise, banquet and grand ball; other events are free.
The biggest event of the week is the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade Saturday. It runs from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. down Constitution Avenue Northwest, between 7th and 17th streets. Elaborate floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands and specialty groups from all over the country and abroad will participate. In recognition of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, this year's parade theme is "For the Love of a Child." Actress Cheryl Ladd and sports announcer Merlin Olsen, who are both goodwill ambassadors for Childhelp USA, will serve as parade grand marshals. Grandstand tickets are for sale at $10 each. Proceeds will benefit the community programs of the Downtown Jaycees of Washington. (202) 432-SEAT.
Other free events on Saturday include the Cherry Blossom Festival Regatta, a competition among American collegiate crews and one from Japan's Hitotsubashi University, beginning at 9 a.m. in the Washington Harbor area; the 27th Cherry Blossom Invitational Rugby Tournament, with top teams from the United States and Canada, at Lincoln Memorial and West Potomac Park fields at 9 a.m.; and the daylong Matsuri Festival of Japan with music, dancing, food and entertainment at Freedom Plaza.
The final event is a concert by keyboard player Keiko Matsui and jazz singer Stephanie Jordan at the Sylvan Theater at 3 p.m. (202) 646-0366.
Daffodil show, festival
Daffodils are another welcome sign of spring and the focus of two events in the region next weekend. The 28th annual Daffodil Show will be held Saturday and next Sunday at the Peninsula Bank in Princess Anne. The daffodil is the official flower of Somerset County.
Sponsored by the Somerset County Garden Club, the show, titled "Spring Fantasy," will feature some 400 to 500 blooms, six design classes and two educational exhibits. A boutique will sell daffodil-related A boutique will sell daffodil-related items. Hours are 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. The bank is at 11732 Somerset Ave. (410) 651-9636.
A daffodil festival is scheduled on Saturday in Gloucester, Va., once known as the "Daffodil Capital of the World." A daffodil show by the Garden Club of Gloucester, daffodil tours, live entertainment and family fun bring thousands of visitors to the area. Most of the activities occur around the Gloucester Courthouse from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and they include live entertainment, an arts and crafts show, food concessions, a children's activity area with games, arts and crafts, and pony rides.
Guided bus tours of local gardens are highlighted by visits to the Daffodil Mart, Longbridge Ordinary and the Ware Episcopal Church. Buses leave throughout the day from the County Administration Building. The cost is $4 for adults; $3 for children. (804) 693-2355.