Celebrating 100 Years of Blossoms

Photo courtesy of katieharbath
Cherry Blossoms
courtesy of katieharbath
It’s cherry blossom time! This year is the Centennial anniversary of Japan’s gifting of the cherry trees to the U.S. and the National Cherry Blossom Festival has planned a whopping five weeks of events to celebrate. While the festival officially kicks off this coming Sunday, some events are already unfolding this week – not to mention we’re smack in the middle of the peak bloom time of the trees.

We’ll provide you a weekly listing of events here on WeLoveDC so you can keep up with all the fantastic offerings. There’s so much going on for the Centennial that we can promise there’s something for everyone! (And don’t forget to drop your photos into our Flickr pool!)

Tonight is the sold-out 2012 Pink Tie Party at the Mayflower Renaissance. Chefs José Andrés and Roy Yamaguchi, innovators in the culinary community, will host the evening, exemplifying the international collaboration and creativity at the heart of the Festival. The sixth annual fundraiser and kick-off to the Centennial Celebration and the “season of the blossoms” will feature area chefs’ spring-, cherry- and blossom-inspired cuisine and cocktails. An auction contributes to the Festival’s fundraising efforts offering everything from weekend getaways and yacht charters to concert, sporting, dining, and theater experiences and blossom- and Japanese-themed jewelry and apparel. Photo courtesy of afagen
Photographing the blossoms
courtesy of afagen

Family Days at the National Building Museum runs this Saturday (10 am – 4:30 pm) and Sunday (11 am – 3:30 pm). This seventh annual family festival for “kids of all ages” features hands-on activities, interactive art demonstrations, and exciting indoor and outdoor performances that celebrate spring and explore Japanese arts and design. The weekend events are free and open to the public.

The official kickoff of the Centennial Celebration is on Sunday evening from 5 to 6:30 pm at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony will be headlined by Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, and pianist Sara Bareilles. Performing at the Ceremony is especially meaningful for Bareilles, as she participated in Japan relief and humanitarian efforts with All Hands Volunteers while touring overseas.

Also performing at the Opening Ceremony is MISIA, Japan’s most popular female R&B recording artist. A native of Nagasaki, Japan, she has earned world-wide acclaim, entertaining millions and selling over 30 million CDs. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, MISIA tirelessly promoted the campaign ‘HOPE FOR JAPAN,’ raising money to support afflicted children. At the request of the Government of Japan she will perform to express the gratitude of the Japanese people for the support provided from the United States.

With the cooperation of the Government of Japan, Hideki Togi will bring a contemporary element combined with a traditional sound to this year’s event. He plays the Japanese National Anthem with Iwao Furusawa, the multi award winning violinist who makes the world his stage. Togi is also accompanied by the Children’s Chorus of Washington, led by Japanese executive director Nao Tsurumaki, and comprised of 150 singers ages 9-18.

Other performances include DC native Denyce Graves-Montgomery, the Washington Ballet, TAIKOPROJECT, Samurai Sword Soul, and CIRQUETACULAR.

The Opening Ceremony is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Limited seats will be added on Wednesday at 10 am.

Having lived in the DC area for ten years, Ben still loves to wander the city with his wife, shooting lots of photos and exploring all the latest exhibits and galleries. A certified hockey fanatic, he spends some time debating the Washington Capitals club with friends – but everyone knows of his three decade love affair with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A professional writer, gamer, photographer, and Lego enthusiast, Ben remains captivated by DC and doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.

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