Spring blossoms with D.C. cherry festival

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Call it the gesture of friendship that keeps on blooming.

It was 94 years ago this spring that the city of Tokyo gave the citizens of Washington the gift of 3,000 cherry trees to be planted along the Tidal Basin. Several years later, a festival was started to commemorate the event.

This year's Cherry Blossom Festival begins today and goes through April 9. "It's one of the most exciting spring events in Washington, D.C., and there's truly something for everyone. We work on it all year, and it offers much cultural entertainment," says Diana Mercer, executive director of the festival.

Here's a guide to what's going on this weekend:

National Cherry Blossom Festival Family Day and Opening Ceremony

What --The opening ceremony of the festival, complete with family-friendly activities and a performance by Kenny Endo, as well as visits from Washington dignitaries.

When --Today from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Where --The National Building Museum, 401 F St. N.W.

Cost --Free.

Information --Call 202-547-1500 or visit national cherryblossomfestival.org.

The 40th Annual Smithsonian Kite Festival: A Sky Fantasy

What --A festival featuring competitions and events ranging from a kite battle to the judging of homemade kites.

When --Today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where --The Washington Monument grounds, Constitution Avenue and 15th Street Southwest

Cost --Free.

Information --Call 202-357-3030 or visit kitefestival. org.

Sushi and Sake Celebration at the Landmark Restaurant

What --Celebrate the festival with fresh sushi and fine sake.

When --Today from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Where --The Melrose Hotel, 2430 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.

Cost --$100 a person.

Information --Call 202-955-3863 or visit melrose hoteldc.com.

The NOVA Cherry Blossom Go Tournament

What --A tournament of Go-Baduk-Wei'Chi, a Japanese board game, which requires skills of thought and logic.

When --Today from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where --The Charles Summer School, 1201 17th St. N.W.

Cost --Free. For competitors, there is a $20 entrance fee.

Information --Call 703-684-7676 or visit novago club.org.

Anacostia Cherry Blossom Festival

What --Main Street Anacostia will host an event full of family fun, including a tree planting.

When --Today from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where --Anacostia Park, Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue Southeast

Cost --Free.

Information --Call 202-889-5090 or visit mainstreet anacostia.org.

Cherry Blossom High Tea on the Potomac

What --Enjoy old-fashioned, seated, high tea while floating on the Potomac, in full view of the beautiful blooms.

When --Tomorrow from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Where --Yacht Finished Business, 1300 Maine Ave. S.W.

Cost --$50 per person.

Information --Call 202-554-0677 or visit capital yacht.com.

Cherry Blossom Festival: Sakura Celebration Book Talk

What --Bring the family and enjoy listening to stories of the trees and how they came to the Tidal Basin. Other tales will include Japanese myths, poetry and fables.

When --Tomorrow from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Where --National Museum of Natural History, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue Northwest

Cost --Free.

Information --Call 202-633-1000.

Blossoms By Bike

What --Enjoy the blossoms and get some exercise by taking a two-hour bike tour.

When --Today through April 9, every day from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Also from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekends.

Where --Bike the Sights kiosk, Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th Street Northwest.

Cost --$30 for adults, $20 for ages 12 and younger.

Information --Call 202-842-2453 or visit bikethe sights.com for reservations.

Cherry Blossom Photo Safari

What --Let professional photographer E. David Luria instruct you on tips of expert photography as he leads you around the Tidal Basin.

When --Today through April 9 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunrise Safari is available from 6:15 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. April 2 to April 9.

Where --Afternoon Safari at entrance to FDR Memorial Visitor Center, 1850 W. Basin Drive S.W. Sunrise Safari at Paddleboat Rental Station, Independence Avenue and 15th Street Northwest.

Cost --$49 per person for Afternoon Safari, $53 per person for Sunrise Safari.

Information --Visit washing tonphotosafari.com.

Beyond the Tidal Basin

What --Take a self-guided tour of the different types of cherry blossoms, sponsored by the United States National Arboretum.

When --Today through April 9 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where --United States National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave. N.E.

Cost --Free.

Information --Call 202-245-4523 or visit usna. usda.gov.

Tidal Basin Cultural Performances

What --Various performances including music, dance and even martial arts demonstrations.

When --Today through April 9 at noon.

Where --The Jefferson Memorial steps, 900 Ohio Drive S.W.

Cost --Free.

Information --Call 202-547-1500.

The Blossom Secrets Stroll

What --While enjoying a walking tour, learn about the cherry trees and their closely related arboreal cousins.

When --Today and tomorrow at 2 p.m.

Where --Meet outside the Smithsonian Metrorail Station, 12th Street at Jefferson Drive Southwest.

Cost --$10 for adults; free for ages 4 and under.

Information --Call 202-484-1565 or washington walks.com.

Cherry Blossom from the River Tours

What --See blossoms on a float down the Potomac.

When --Today and tomorrow from 9 a.m. Tours depart every two hours. The last trip is at 5 p.m..

Where --Washington Marina, 1300 Maine Ave. S.W.

Cost --$15 for adults, $10 for children.

Information --Call 202-554-0677 or capitalyacht.com.


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