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Cherry Blossom Festival returns with something for everyone

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Entertainment,Robert Fulton

The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival is back once again. Opening weekend is approaching, and festival President Diana Mayhew knows not to worry too much about the weather.

"I don't have a crystal ball," Mayhew said. "I don't know."

What Mayhew does know is that the 101st National Cherry Blossom Festival is once again packed with events for all ages during the next four weekends.

"We have a lot of great things happening," she said.

Cherry Blossom events
Dozens of events make up the National Cherry Blossom Festival, many of them free. Here are a few highlights. For a complete rundown visit nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.
» Pink Tie Party: This signature event is a fundraiser for the nonprofit National Cherry Blossom Festival. At the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel, 999 Ninth St. NW; 7-11 p.m. Wednesday; $200
» Family Days: Two days of fun for all, including hands-on activities and performances. At the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday; free
» Opening Ceremony: Local and national entertainment get the festival kicked off. At the Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW; 5 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday; free, but advance tickets are required
» Cherry Blast: Art + Music Dance Party: A multimedia dance party including DJs, visual and performance art, and interactive sensory experiences. At 500 Penn St. NE; 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. March 29; $10
» Blossom Kite Festival: The stakes are high at this family-friendly event. The grand prize in the Kite Makers Competition is a pair of tickets from Turkish Airlines. At the Washington Monument Grounds; 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. March 30; free
» Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival: More than eight hours of fun for everyone, capped by fireworks. 600 to 900 Water St. SW; 1 to 9 p.m. April 6; free
» National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade: Everyone loves a parade, and this is no slouch. Constitution Avenue; 10 a.m. to noon April 13; $20 for grandstand seating, free along parade route

Highlights include the Pink Tie Party at the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel on Wednesday; the two-day Family Days event at the National Building Museum this Saturday and Sunday; the Opening Ceremony at the Warner Theatre on Saturday; Cherry Blast dance party on March 29; kite festival on March 30; fireworks festival on April 6; and the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on April 13.

Mayhew encourages visitors and locals alike to take a new OnBoard bus tour to get a look at the blossoms. The festival also has a new smartphone app.

For the second year, local businesses will participate in City in Bloom, displaying uniting color schemes and decorations; the popular Cherry Picks program features nearly 100 area restaurants creating festival-inspired dishes.

"It's really to pump up the spirit and the look and the welcoming feel to residents and visitors to celebrate things all together."

Also on the culinary front, Taste of Japan returns, showcasing Japanese food and drink at the Carnegie Library on April 4.

Peak bloom is predicted for April 3 through April 6. Mayhew estimates well over 1 million visitors over the next few weeks, but also encourages locals to get in the spirit.

"First of all, I think it's such a positive, wonderful brand for the city," Mayhew said. "It is becoming the nation's greatest springtime celebration. Spring is always a positive thing. It just gives everybody a positive outlook."

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