Your Guide to the Washington, D.C. 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival!

It’s one of our favorite times of the year! Time for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Does your family look forward to the festivities as much as Johanna and I do? I hope so, because the next three weeks are going to be jam packed with performances, craft making, dancing, eating, and of course Cherry Blossom watching. I pulled together as much information as I possibly could to help guide you in deciding which events you need to make it to, so have your calendar ready! Let’s go!

Opening Ceremony
Warner Theatre – 513 13th Street, NW
Saturday, March 21st, 5 – 6:30pm
We have never been to the opening ceremony, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to try hard to get in this year! It takes place at the Warner Theatre from 5-6:30pm and although tickets are already sold out, they will probably let a few people in, so arrive at least 30 minutes early and keep your fingers crossed. There will be plenty of live musical acts, so definitely catch this event if you can. If you can’t, no worries! There will be plenty of other opportunities to catch live acts during the festival.

Building Museum Family Days!
The National Building Museum – 401 F Street, NW
March 21 – April 4
The Building Museum is doing something a little different this year by adding various workshops! Please see the following information from the website on these exciting events:

*The Tokyo Picnic Club invites you to bring a blanket, a basket, and a lunch and have your picnic in style in the Great Hall on Saturday, March 21st from 11am-2pm. You will:
Compete for a prize for the most stylish picnic
Pose for aerial picnic photography with our friends from the D.C. Drone User Group.
Participate in family activities
Taste premium loose-leaf teas and treat the family to some favorite sweets, all from Teaism.

*Build a Zen Rock Garden
On March 28th from 1-3pm learn the history of Japan’s famous gardens, and then design and build your own.
Pre-registration is required. Price per garden: $15 Members | $20 Non-members. One garden is sufficient for a family of four. Please select the number of gardens you will build at the event. Limited to three gardens per participating family. Buy your tickets here.

* Paper Tube Shelter Challenge
On Saturday, April 4th from 1-3 design, model, and build shelters inspired by the work of Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, who builds both permanent and temporary structures with recyclable paper tubes. We’ll bring the tubes — you bring the creativity! We’ll work together in teams of all ages to build the biggest and strongest paper tube structures. Prepaid registration required. Cost per participant: $5 Members, $10 Non-members. Both adults and children must pre-register and purchase tickets here.

Kites of Asia- Family Day
National Air and Space Museum – Independence Ave at 6th St, SW
Saturday, March 21st, 10am – 3pm
*Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall
Learn about the kite that inspired this program and learn why it’s not on display.
*American by Air
Discover local kite experts and organizations.
*Looking at Earth
Build an anemometer to measure the speed of wind.
Drop “cherry blossoms” to learn about the principle of drag.
*Space Race
Build and decorate an airworthy sled kite.
*Wright Brothers
Hear from a Museum expert about how the Wright brothers used kites to invent the airplane.
*Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery
Fashion a Chinese Dragon puppet.
Color a Thai-style kite*
Make a Philippine leaf kite*
*these kites are decorative but not airworthy

*America by Air
Experience the grace of indoor kite flying.
*Space Race
See a Taekwondo presentation (times TBA)
*Throughout the Museum
View static displays of Pan-Asian kites

*Flights of Fancy Story Time—The Best Winds
11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery
*Indian Kite Stories by Swatantar
12:15 p.m. and 2:15 p.m.
Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery

E Street Cinema – 555 11th St, NW
March 22-26
E Street Cinema, one of the best movie theatre’s in the district, will be screening five Japanese films, all from different genres, between March 22-26. You can see a list of the films here as well as their showtimes and buy tickets.

Make an Okinawan Textile Craft
The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum
701 21st Street, NW
Sunday, March 22nd, 10am – 4pm
Please join us during cherry blossom season to learn about and make artwork inspired by brightly colored bingata, traditional Okinawan cloth made using stencils and resist dyeing. Bingata features various patterns, usually depicting natural subjects such as fish, water, and flowers. Staff from The Textile Museum and the Bingata Association from Okinawa will help participants of all ages practice techniques to make their own bingata object. Children and adults welcome.

Japanese Jazz Series at Blues Alley
1073 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
March 22-25, & 30, 8pm & 10pm
Celebrating Cherry Blossoms! Enjoy the music of young Japanese jazz artists at Blues Alley, performing as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival! Purchase tickets here.

Blossom Kite Festival
Grounds of the Washington Monument near 17th Street NW and Constitution Avenue
Saturday, March 28th, 10am – 4:30pm
Depending on wind and weather, schedule is subject to change
Opening Ceremony
Opening Remarks 10 am
National Anthem
Step into Spring Kick-off Parade

*Competition & Demonstration Field
Kite Ballets and Demonstrations 10:30 – 11 am
Adult Kite Makers Competition 11am – 1 pm
Soar into Spring Demonstrations 1 – 1:30 pm
Hot Tricks Showdown 1:30 – 2:30 pm
International Kite Demonstrations 2:30 – 3 pm
Rokkaku Battle 3 – 4 pm
Puzzle Rokkaku 4 – 4:15 pm
Kite Arch & Awards 4:15 – 4:30 pm

*Family Field
Youth Kite Makers Practice Fly 10:30 – 11 am
Youth Kite Makers Competition 11 – noon
Youth Kite Makers Awards noon – 12:30 pm
Mini Rokkaku Practice 12:30 – 1 pm
Mini Rokkaku Challenge (ages 5-9) 1 – 1:30 pm
Mini Rokkaku Challenge (ages 10-15) 1:45 – 2 pm
Bol Races 2 –3 pm
Family Open Fly 3 – 4:30 pm

Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk
National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism, located at the intersection of Louisiana and New Jersey Avenues and D Street NW Washington, DC.
Saturday, March 28th, 9am – 12pm
This walk aims to bring awareness about what life was like for Japanese Americans during World War II. The walk will conclude with traditional Japanese and Palestinian folk dancing.

National Cherry Blossom Festival
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Freer Gallery of Art
Jefferson Drive at 12th St, SW
Saturday, March 28th, 11am – 4:30pm
The Freer and Sackler Galleries celebrate the 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival with a day full of Japanese art, anime and manga films, and family activities. The museum shop hosts a trunk show of vintage Japanese garments as well as a signing of the newly released book Cherry Blossoms, featuring artworks from the Freer and Sackler collections.

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
Southwest Waterfront – 600 Water Street, SW
Saturday, April 4th, 1pm – 9pm (Fireworks start at 8:30 PM)
This event is always a family favorite. It’s our favorite simply because it combines three of our favorite things – face painting, food, and crafts! There’s also live music, and of course, the big fireworks show to end the night.

Lantern Making Family Day at Canal Park
Canal Park – 200 M Street, SE
Saturday, April 4th, 10am – 2pm
There will be two sessions of lantern making for children and adults, at 10:00 am and at 12:00 pm. As an official event of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the lantern making day will feature a variety of Japanese cultural activities, as well as a moon bounce for all children to enjoy.

Cherry Blossom Family Celebration
Smithsonian American Art Museum – 8th and G Streets, NW
Saturday, April 4th, 11:30am – 4:30pm
Celebrate DC’s famous cherry blossom season with craft activities, live music, gardening demonstration from Smithsonian Gardens, and Tatebanko: Japanese Paper Dioramas from Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony
TIDAL BASIN AT Independence Avenue and 17th Street, SW
Sunday, April 5th, 2:30pm – 4:30pm
The ceremony takes place at the newly dedicated Japanese Rock Garden. It includes traditional music by the Toho Koto Society of Washington, DC and songs by the Washington Japanese Choral Society. The Joint Armed Forces Color Guard of the Military District of Washington, DC presents the colors.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Constitution Avenue – From 7th to 17th streets, NW
Saturday, April 11th, 10am – Noon
The parade runs for 10 blocks along iconic Constitution Avenue featuring giant colorful helium balloons, elaborate floats, marching bands from across the country, and celebrity entertainers, and performers. Individual tickets start at $20. Group tickets are on sale as well. Get your tickets here.Standing along the Parade route from Constitution Avenue between 9th and 15th streets, NW is FREE and open to the public. Arrive early for the best views.

Sakura Matsuri
12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue

Head right on over after the parade, rain or shine! Adult tickets are $10. Children under the age of 13 are free. Buy your tickets in advance for a discount here. Discount ends April 3rd!


Cherry Blossom Beer & Wine Festival
The Yards – 1300 1st Street, SE
Saturday, April 11th
Drink the District presents the 2nd annual Cherry Blossom Beer & Wine Festival. With tickets this year starting at just $35, attendees can enjoy unlimited beer and wine, a live dueling pianos show, backyard games, and access to food trucks at our tasting-centric event.

With 50+ wines and 30+ beers, come explore our flavorful variety of tastings and indulge in full pours of your favorites. Tickets get you unlimited samples from breweries like 3 Stars & Atlas and wineries like the Donati Family Vinyard from Templeton, CA.

Click here for more information and to buy tickets.


Taking a Virtual Field Trip Around the World

About a month or so ago an internet friend (don’t you love those?!) told me that she was doing geography lessons with her little one, and I immediately said idea STOLEN! While I am not exactly that girl that remembers state capitals and such, I am that girl that adores learning about new places and discovering new things. I would love for Johanna to be that person as well, so I thought this was perfect!

We started last month with China. It was great! We had dim sum (she hated it), we participated in Chinese New Year, we read children’s books and non-fiction books about China, as well as watched language videos. It was great, worked out perfectly! For March we are doing Japan since the Cherry Blossom festivities will begin right as we are ending, perfect timing! Well another internet friend (yes, my internet friends are way better than yours!) sent me her pinterest board because she is an elementary school teacher and wanted to help me out with homeschooling Johanna. I was totally overwhelmed at first, but soon I stumbled upon something that caught my eye.

Have you ever heard of the Google Art Project? Well it was new to me (I know! I must live in a cave…or I’m just busy being the Black Martha Stewart) and to say I was excited is kinda sorta putting it lightly. How timely for me to find this! Google Art Project allows you to view over 100 museum collections from 40 countries. You can either explore the museum (a dream come true!), or view the artwork. Seriously. You get to take a walk through the museum as if you are actually there! This is me in the Tokyo National Museum:

UntitledHow amazing is that??? This has turned my teaching on it’s head. It’s made things just a little bit brighter and exciting! Of course, I couldn’t discover this and not tell you, you know, in case you too are extremely busy saving the world being an awesome parent and somehow missed out on this little nugget of information.

Have you incorporated world studies into your little one’s curriculum? How do you teach your children about the places far away from their home?