As the National Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off this week in Washington D.C., locals and tourists gather to enjoy the explosions of pink and white around the city and celebrate one of the most famous cultural festivals in the U.S.
Washington, D.C.’s biggest springtime tradition honors the cherry blossoms that were originally a gift from Japan in 1912. Currently, the blossoms have reached stage five of six in their peak blooming process.
Cherry blossom-themed sculptures and decor take over the city and are plastered all over public transportation and even residents’ porches.
The Japan Information and Culture Center is one of several places in D.C. honoring the history of the blossoms with Japanese artwork and haiku poetry created by D.C. students.
Artechouse, which bills itself as a center of immersive and tech experiences, is also displaying a seasonal exhibit for its sixth annual cherry blossom celebration, providing visitors with interactive springtime artwork.
“We’ve heard lots of things about the festival,” said Gemma Legard, a tourist from the U.K. seeing cherry blossoms for the first time. “So we thought something like this was a really good opportunity to kind of see it in a different way,” she continued.
People can also try cherry blossom-flavored food and drinks from several restaurants, bars, and cafes, including sushi, coffee, tea, ice cream, and other desserts.
Tourists like Kent and Janine Sullivan-Wiley, a couple from Connecticut, look forward to seeing the blooming cherry blossoms this time of year.
“It’s beautiful, it’s gorgeous,” said Kent.
“And it seems to put everybody in such a good mood. You know, everybody’s happy and excited and taking pictures,” added Janine.
The festival hosts its opening ceremony next weekend, followed by several events and activities throughout March, and finishes off with a parade before its official end on April 16.