50 fun facts

50 FUN FACTS

  1. The average lifespan of a cherry tree is only 20 to 30 years, but nearly 100 of the original trees from 1912 still thrive at the Tidal Basin thanks to the hard work of the National Park Service.
  2. In 1965, First Lady Lady Bird Johnson accepted 3,800 Yoshino trees from the government of Japan and held a tree planting reenactment.
  3. During the National Cherry Blossom Festival, pink lighting and blossom images on iconic buildings including decals on cars, storefronts and public transit as part of the City In Bloom program.
  4. Sakura means “flowering cherry tree” in Japanese.
  5. Cherry blossoms are Japan’s national flower.
  6. The first “festival” began as modest celebration in 1927. In 1994 the Festival grew to two weeks, and in 2012, a five-week extravaganza honored the 100th anniversary of the gift of trees.
  7. 2017 marks the 90th anniversary of the first Festival. To honor this milestone, the Festival is collecting memories (photos and stories) using the hashtag #BlossomMoments. Those who submit an entry are eligible to win roundtrip airline tickets to Tokyo courtesy of ANA (All Nippon Airways).
  8. This year’s official artwork, appearing on merchandise and marketing materials, was created by DC-area native artist Naturel.
  9. The National Cherry Blossom Festival offers over 100 free performances daily at the Tidal Basin Welcome Area on the ANA Performance Stage (Saturday, March 25 – Sunday, April 9).
  10. Each year the National Cherry Blossom Festival is attended by approximately 1.5 million.
  11. The Blossom Kite Festival, formerly the Smithsonian Kite Festival, was founded in 1967 by Paul E. Garber. Garber also founded the National Air and Space Museum. The National Cherry Blossom Festival has produced the Blossom Kite Festival since 2010.
  12. The “indicator” tree at the Tidal Basin blooms before all the other trees and is a signal that peak bloom is within a few days.
  13. The Peak Bloom Date is defined as the day on which 70 percent of the blossoms of the Yoshino cherry trees that surround the Tidal Basin are open. This date varies from year to year, depending on weather conditions.
  14. The Blooming Period is defined as that period when 20 percent of the blossoms are open until the petals fall and leaves appear. The blooming period starts several days before the peak bloom date and can last as long as 14 days.
  15. Union Station is the Festival's merchandise headquarters, stop by before April 19 to purchase apparel, coloring books, and more.
  16. The Festival has events in all eight wards of the city.
  17. The first official day of the Festival is held on the first day of spring each year.
  18. The Festival plants trees in the community throughout the year as part of its community tree planting program. One of the largest groves of trees aside from the Tidal Basin is in Oxon Run Park.
  19. Over 60 events and tours make up the 2017 National Cherry Blossom Festival.
  20. Over 70 restaurants are participating in the 2017 Cherry Picks Restaurant Program.
  21. A giant helium balloon requires approximately 4,500 cubic feet of helium.
  22. The average Parade balloon takes approximately 20 handles to carry down the Parade route.
  23. Each year the Parade youth choir features hundreds of children from across the country.
  24. The National Park Service maintains approximately 3,800 cherry trees around the Tidal Basin, in East and West Potomac Park, and on the ground of the Washington Monument.
  25. During your visit, there are a number of things you can do to help protect the cherry trees, such as not picking the blossoms, not climbing the trees, and staying on walkways in order to avoid walking on the tree roots.
  26. The Japanese Stone Lantern on the Tidal Basin is more than 360 years old. The lantern is lit only once each year as an annual tradition of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
  27. Close to 2,000 volunteers will help make this year’s Festival a success.
  28. Each Festival event requires a different number of volunteers; some events require as few as 10 but the Parade requires over 600.
  29. Five of the top ten highest ridership days in Metro history were during the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
  30. Yoshino cherry trees make up 70% of the trees at the Tidal Basin. Kwanzan cherry trees make up 12.6% of the total. There are more than ten variations of cherry trees total.
  31. The 6821 Quintet is after the distance between Washington DC and Tokyo, and was created by The Ryuji Ueno Foundation as part of the Potomac Music-Lab Project specially for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The 2017 group consists of Mayu Kishima (1st Violin), Eric Silberger (2nd Violin), Meng Wang (Viola), Clancy Newman (Cello) and Mamiko Hirai (Composer/Pianist), and will be performing the world-premiere of a commissioned piece written by Ms. Hirai.
  32. The Washington Nationals will take on the Saint Louis Cardinals as part of the annual Blossoms and Baseball game at Nationals Park. $5 from every ticket purchased through the Festivals website will benefit National Cherry Blossom Festival programs.
  33. J-Pop artist May J, sang the end credits version of “Let It Go” in the Japanese release of Disney’s animated “Frozen.” will perform in the Opening Ceremony on March 25.
  34. For the first time this year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is designating the Trust for the National Mall as an official nonprofit partner. The new partnership aims to raise funds for the National Mall Cherry Tree Endowment, which is focused on the preservation and protection of the more than 3,000 flowering cherry blossom trees that line the Tidal Basin on the National Mall.
  35. This year’s Youth Art Contest and Community Art Show features work from DC public and charter school students and highlights kimonos. Stop by the Pepco Edison Place Gallery between March 25 and April 7.
  36. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden kicks off the North America tour of world-renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s exuberant work in “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” featuring six mirror rooms filled with her signature polka dots and other pieces. The Hirshhorn offers multiple events and programs in conjunction with this exhibit and the Festival.
  37. Over 40 organizations will participate in the third annual Anacostia River Festival this year, on Sunday, April 9 held in Anacostia Park.
  38. The Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival is one of the largest Japanese street festivals and celebrations of Japanese culture in the US, this year’s is Saturday, April 8 in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood.
  39. The first official Festival in 1927 was attended by former First Lady Helen Taft and first lady at the time Edith Wilson. Audience members enjoyed a reenactment of the first planting and a children’s presentation of the “Cherry Petal Ballet.”
  40. The best place to view fireworks during the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival is Titanic Memorial Park, East Potomac Park or Haines Point.
  41. Each year the National Cherry Blossom Festival hosts a Sing Into Spring Vocal Competition, the winning vocalists will appear in the Parade.
  42. Notable celebrities who have participated in past Festivals include: Lance Bass, Alex Trebek, Katie Couric, Aaron Carter, and Sarah Barellies.
  43. New balloons in featured in this year’s Parade include Mr. Potato Head and the Hungry Caterpillar.
  44. Each year the National Cherry Blossom Festival selects young men and women for its Goodwill Ambassador program. These individuals to promote cross-cultural friendships throughout the Festival.
  45. For the first time this year, the Blossom Kite Festival will feature kite flying lessons. Bring your own kite or purchase on onsite. This year’s Blossom Kite Festival is Saturday, April 1.
  46. Look for City In Bloom installations (lighting projections and blossom decals) throughout the city and region.
  47. The average peak bloom date is April 4.
  48. One of the most popular times to photograph the cherry blossoms is at sunrise.
  49. For every poster sold this year, Guest Services, Inc. will donate $1 to the Cherry Tree Maintenance Fund.
  50. The distance around the Tidal Basin is 1.81 miles.