The National Cherry Blossom Festival, partners and friends, gathered today to announce plans for the 2011 Festival and the predicted peak blooming period of the cherry blossoms - MARCH 29 â€“ APRIL 3! This yearâ€™s Festival boasts nearly 400 free events and performances surrounding traditional and contemporary arts and culture, natural beauty, and community spirit; in celebration of the 99th anniversary of the gift of cherry blossom trees. There is even a festival app for you to download onto your smart phones.Â We hope to see you at this yearâ€™s Festival!
Â For a complete list of events check out the National Cherry Blossom Festival website.
Some background: Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries.
A first batch of 2,000 trees arrived diseased in 1910, but did not deter the parties.Â Just two years later in 1912, new trees arrived and were planted. These are the trees that now turn the Tidal Basin into a cloud of pink each spring for all to enjoy.
In 1915, the United States Government reciprocated with a gift of flowering dogwood trees to the people of Japan. A group of American school children reenacted the initial planting in 1927 and the first â€œfestivalâ€ was held in 1935, sponsored by civic groups in the nationâ€™s capital.
First Lady Lady Bird Johnson accepted 3,800 more trees in 1965. In 1981, the cycle of giving came full circle. Japanese horticulturists were given cuttings from the trees to replace some cherry trees in Japan which had been destroyed in a flood.
The Festival was expanded to two weeks in 1994 to accommodate a diverse activity schedule during the blooming period. Today, more than a million people visit Washington, DC each year to admire the blossoming cherry trees and attend events that herald the beginning of spring in the nationâ€™s capital.