By Roshan Thomas
Spring is definitely in the air, and to any D.C.-native, that is marked by one thing: the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. As the weather begins to change and mother nature prepares to turn over a new leaf, there’s no doubt that springtime in the city is one of the most beautiful times of the year. Read on to discover the best events to look forward to during the 2018 festival.
Opening Ceremony – Saturday, March 24
No great event begins without an exceptional opening ceremony. This year’s festival promises to impress with performances by Japanese artists, including:
T.M.Revolution: Bringing alternative rock with a new wave flare, T.M. has a reputation for being a singer with catchy songs, and creative stage performances.
Akiko Yano: With 27 original albums released to date, this Tokyo performer In 2008, her original album akiko was recorded in Los Angeles, California and produced by Grammy-Award winning producer T Bone Burnett.
The 6821 Quintet: Created specially for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, this classical group of world-class musicians will premier a piece written specifically for this year’s ceremony.
Shodo Girls (Fukuoka Prefectural Yahata Chuo High School): The Fukuoka Prefectural Yahata Chuo High School Japanese Calligraphy Club earned the privilege of performing at this year’s festival after beating several high schools in the annual Shodo competition. On stage, the group will dance to music while forming characters in calligraphy.
Miyako Taiko: This Japanese drumming group is based in D.C. and part of the Mark H Taiko School. Membership is invitation-only and performances are high-energy, incorporating pounding rhythms with fierce dance moves.
Those who claimed tickets for the ceremony in advance can head to the historic Warner Theater (via Metro Center stop) at 5 pm on the 24th while the rest of us tune in from our couches
Cherry Picks Restaurants
Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival publishes a list of local eateries that are serving up food and drinks in theme with the festival. Dubbed “Cherry Picks,” the list is updated frequently and includes popular locales, such as Alta Strada, Farmers, Fishers, Bakers, Graffiato, Oyamel, Zaytinya, and many, many others.
Blossom Kite Festival – Saturday, March 31
The 7th Annual Kite Festival will be jam-packed with color, crafts, and competition. The 2018 festival schedule includes parades, flying demonstrations, a traditional Rokkaku battle, and craft workshops. There’s something here for the whole family, so round up the crew and make your way over to the Washington Monument for a day of festivities.
Miracle on 7th Popup Bar – March through April
The city’s beloved bar is back doing what it does best: serving creative cocktails in well-designed digs. This year promises to dazzle with a new 10-foot animated Godzilla statue, 90,000 cherry blossoms, and a smattering of new drink options, including a yogurt soda, a “Beana Colada” with red bean paste, and a Japanese whiskey cocktail. Head over to the historic Shaw neighborhood before April 29 to experience this incredible local treat.
Photo credit: Caleb Wright