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2023 National Cherry Blossom Festival's free events

Here is a list of free events you can attend while admiring the beautiful blooms.

WASHINGTON — With the D.C. cherry blossoms hitting peak bloom, people from far and wide will descend on the District to attend the 2023 National Cherry Blossom Festival.

If you are looking to take part of the fun without spending a peak amount of money, we've got your back.

Here is a list of free events you can attend while admiring the beautiful blooms.

🌸 Japanese Rinpa Screens 

Where: Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art

When: Saturday, February 25, 2023 - Sunday, January 28, 2024 

Visitors can view a selection of screens painted in the Rinpa style. According to the National Cherry Blossom Festival website, the three-dimensional folded screens play with perception and tricks the eye. 

🌸 Blossoming Flowers in Japanese Art and Poetry

Where: 1150 18th Street NW, Suite 100

When: Friday, March 17, 2023 - Friday, May 5, 2023

This free exhibition showcases artwork from DC-area students alongside official reproductions of art from the Embassy’s private collection and hand-selected haikus. 

"This unique collaboration highlights the “blooming” creativity of students when drawing inspiration from the symbolism of flowers in Japanese art and poetry," the website reads. 

🌸 Tidal Basin Welcome Area and ANA Stage 

Where: West Basin Drive SW

When: Saturday, March 18, 2023 - Sunday, April 2, 2023

While walking around the blossoms at the Tidal Basin, visit the welcome area between noon and 6 p.m. to watch performances on the ANA Stage. 

Click here for a full schedule of performances. 

🌸 The Cherry Hunt

Where: Multiple locations

When:  Monday, March 20, 2023 - Sunday, April 16, 2023 

This free interactive experience connects festival-goers with local restaurants. Each week will feature a different theme, such as Toast To Spring and Spring Into The Night. To earn points, complete missions from the list for an opportunity to win prizes, including DoorDash gift cards and a two-night hotel stay with breakfast for two and two complimentary drinks. 

🌸 Petal Porches

Where: Various neighborhoods in DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland

When: Monday, March 20, 2023 - Sunday, April 16, 2023

Registered homes in various neighborhoods across the DMV celebrate the cherry blossoms by decorating their porches, yards, and windows in all things pink and blossoms.

Click here for an interactive map of the registered homes. 

🌸 Wishing Tree

Where: Planet Word Museum 925 13th St. NW

When: Monday, March 20, 2023 - Sunday, April 16, 2023

Using hundreds of pieces of pink paper petals, guests will help create a large cherry blossom tree. Visitors will choose a poem from Planet Word Museum's collection, write it on a slip of paper and place it inside an origami paper petal 'pocket' that is adhered to the branches of the cherry blossom tree. 

The petals will later be passed on to visitors in the museum as a symbol of friendship.

🌸 Art in Bloom

Where: Washington, DC & beyond

When: Monday, March 20, 2023 - Monday, April 17, 2023

Visit one of the many Giant Cherry Blossom sculptures in all eight warns of DC and beyond. Click here for a map with Art In Bloom locations.

🌸 Ay-Ō's Happy Rainbow Hell

Where: Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art

When: Saturday, March 25, 2023 - Sunday, September 10, 2023

Immerse yourself in Japanese artist Ay-Ō’s world. The sensory experience encompasses visitors in anything and everything within the visible light spectrum. 

There are more than 80 artworks from the collection, as well as several other US institutions. Ay-Ō’s Happy Rainbow Hell is the first-ever exhibition dedicated to the artist’s work at a museum in the United States.  

WARNING: The exhibition is not appropriate for all ages. Parental discretion is advised. 

🌸 Art Blooms at Mosaic

Where: Mosaic District 2910 District Ave Fairfax, VA 22031 

When: Saturday, April 1, 2023 - Sunday, April 2, 2023

This two-day festival welcomes spring to the DMV. The Mosaic District will host the outdoor festival in partnership with URBNmarket and FRESHFARM and host more than 90 handmade and vintage vendors, special performances, and a variety of activities for the whole family. 

🌸 Opening Ceremony Livestream 

Where: The National Cherry Blossoms Festival YouTube Channel

When: Saturday, March 25, 2023 @ 5:00 - 6:30 PM 

While all tickets have been claimed to attend the opening ceremony in person, the signature grand opening will be livestreamed. The annual tribute will honor the friendship between Japan and the United States and features one-time-only performances.

🌸 SAAM Cherry Blossom Family Celebration

Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum 8th and F streets NW (F Street Plaza in front of the museum) 

When: Saturday, March 25, 2023 @ 11:30 - 3 PM 

This family celebration will feature a taiko drumming performance by Nen Daiko, traditional Japanese dance with Onoe Dance and the opportunity to break out your best Japanese dance moves. Visitors can even craft their own cherry blossom tree to take home or try their hand at an origami Sakura. 

🌸 Blossom Kite Festival

Where: Washington Monument Grounds and Featured Parks in DC, Maryland, and Virginia

When: Sunday, March 26, 2023 @ 10 AM - 4:30 PM

This family-friendly event will feature Mr. Mikio Toki, a master of traditional Edo-style kites, who is traveling all the way from Japan to showcase his kites and performances by the local Wings Over Washington Kite Club.

Registration is required for the Adult Kitemakers Competition and Youth Kitemakers Competition! Registration is free of charge.

🌸 Sakura Taiko Fest

Where: Sylvan Theatre Independence Avenue & 15th Street SW 

When: Sunday, March 26, 2023 @ Noon - 5 PM

The concert will welcome a number of taiko groups and feature a variety of different taiko styles as a celebration of Japanese-American cultural and artistic traditions.

Click here for more information.

🌸 The 6821 Quintet at Millenium Stage 

Where: Millennium Stage | The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

When: Saturday, April 1, 2023 @ 6 - 7 PM

The 6821 Quintet will return to the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage to play among the blooms. The quintet includes:

  • Eric Silberger (Violin)
  • Ria Honda (Violin)
  • Santiago Vazquez-Loredo (Violin)
  • Benedict Klöckner (Cello)
  • Ryo Yanagitani (Piano)

🌸 National Gallery of Art First Saturday 

Where: National Gallery of Art | East Building

When: Saturday, April 1, 2023 @ 10:30 AM - 3 PM

Celebrate peak bloom at the National Gallery of Art during the monthly First Saturday. Visitors can enjoy a fun and relaxed experience with art making, films, and various special pop-up activities.

🌸 25th Annual National Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk 

Where: National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II

Louisiana, New Jersey

When: Saturday, April 1, 2023 @ 9 AM - 1 PM

The year 2023 marks 80 years since FDR signed Executive Order 9066, incarcerating Japanese Americans during World War II.

The freedom walk's theme is “Dissenting Voice to EO 9066: Eleanor Roosevelt.” 

🌸 Pink in the Park

Where: Long Bridge Park in Arlington, VA 

When: Saturday, April 1, 2023 @ 3 - 7 PM

Visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy a pink-themed festival with morning activities for families and an evening music festival. 

The entertainment will be hosted by celebrity and emcee Orlando Jones, and will feature live music by DJ Chan Don, Crush Funk Brass, Umami House, Reesa Renee, Footwerk, and headliner Black Alley, a beer & wine garden, food trucks, giveaways, and more.

🌸 Smithsonian Cherry Blossom Festival

Where: Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art

When: Saturday, April 1, 2023 @ 2 - 5 PM

As spring continues to bloom, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art will be hosting a free exhibit for all ages. The attraction will include performances, curator tours, hands-on activities, a kimono pop-up, and more. 

🌸 Japanese Culture Day

Where: Young Readers Center, (LJ-G29) Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress

When: Saturday, April 1, 2023 @ 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM 

Children, families and teachers can learn about Japanese culture through reading, writing and craft-making with cultural and linguistic professionals during Japanese Culture Day at the Young Readers Center. 

🌸 Sakura Sunday

Where: National Harbor Plaza

When: Sunday, April 2, 2023 @ 11 AM - 6 PM

This free event will feature Japanese-inspired art, music and dance, culinary delights, and market. 

🌸 Petalpalooza

Where: Capitol Riverfront at the Yards Navy Yard Metro (Dept. of Transportation Exit) Fireworks also visible from Anacostia Park

When: Saturday, April 8, 2023 @ 1 - 9 PM

Sponsored by Chase, Petalpalooza will a full day of live music and fun. 

The full day of activities include music and interactive art installations through the Petalpalooza Art Walk, a cashless beverage garden, family friendly hands-on activities, roaming DC sports mascots and entertainers, and more, all along the banks of the Anacostia River.

The Official National Cherry Blossom Festival Fireworks Show set to music starting at 8:30 PM.

Click here for more information.

🌸 Official Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony

Where: Japanese Stone Lantern Independence Avenue & 17th St. SW

When: Sunday, April 9, 2023 @ 2:30 - 4:30 PM

Presented by the National Park Service and National Conference of State Societies, the traditional lighting ceremony happens amidst the cherry blossom trees. The lantern is approximately 375 years old and was given as a gift by Japan in 1954.

The lantern is more than 8 feet tall and weighs around 4,000 pounds. The National Cherry Blossom Festival website says it was carved nearly four centuries ago to honor the Third Shogun of the Tokugawa period.

The lantern is lit only once a year by the Cherry Blossom Princess representing Japan. This will be the first public appearance of the 2023 U.S. Cherry Blossom Princesses. 

🌸 Tamagawa University Dance and Taiko Group US North American Tour

Where: Millennium Stage at The John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

When: Friday, April 14, 2023 @ 6 PM - 7 PM

Thundering taiko drumming meets traditional Japanese dance at this free performance. Nearly 30 drummers and dancers from Tamagawa University will take the stage.

🌸 Torpedo Factory Art Center's Late Shift: Cherry Blossom Jubilee

Where: Torpedo Factory Art Center

When: Friday, April 14, 2023 @ 7 - 10 PM

Visitors can gaze upon cherry blossom-inspired works of art throughout the studios and galleries between the art center's three floors. Music and live art demonstrations will be happening throughout the evening as well. 

Click here for a full list of all the National Cherry Blossom Festival events available this year! 


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