National Cherry Blossom Festival

National Cherry Blossom Festival

The National Cherry Blossom Festival has unveiled key initiatives and programming that will comprise the unprecedented five week 2012 Centennial Celebration, March 20 – April 27, in honor of the 100 year anniversary of the gift of trees from Tokyo to Washington, DC. Filled with spectacular performances and exciting announcements, the luncheon was just a glimpse of what is planned for 2012.

The gift of trees is now the nation’s greatest springtime celebration, and the Festival will expand from 16 days to a five week event paying tribute to 100 years of blossoms with prestigious arts and culture, key environmental initiatives, and more community spirit than ever before.

Signature events will be elevated and new activities and programs put forth in honor of the once-in-a-lifetime occasion. The Festival unveiled the "City in Bloom," a campaign to visually unite the region for over one million expected attendees. Through the Festival’s City in Bloom “toolkit,” area businesses, organizations, and individuals are encouraged to utilize special pink and blossom lighting, blossom decals, oversize banners, and more, showing their spirit for the Centennial and gift of trees.

World-renowned artist Peter Max has created the official artwork of the 2012 Centennial Celebration. His original iconic piece captures the spirit of the Festival, and will be sold as a commemorative poster and on other limited merchandise. Many additional commemorative initiatives are underway. Cherry Blossoms: The Official Book of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, will be published in partnership with National Geographic in February 2012. The United States Postal Service has created a Cherry Blossom Centennial Forever stamp that will be issued in March 2012.

The Festival will plant over 1,000 cherry trees with Casey Trees and the University of the District of Columbia, continuing the circle of giving. With Arbor Day Foundation, the Festival will hold a contest to determine "America's Favorite Cherry Tree," launching in January of next year. Youth Education initiatives will continue and be expanded, educating and inspiring the next generation of Festival-goers. In 2012, the girl scouts also celebrate their 100-year anniversary, and will participate in a special patch program to learn about the trees and their cultural significance.

Rare and renowned art and culture will be at the forefront of offerings. The National Gallery of Art will exhibit Colorful Realm of Living Beings, a 30-scroll set of paintings, never before seen in its entirety outside Japan. The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery will have two exhibits featuring the masterworks of Hokusai and rare Buddhist paintings. National Geographic Museum will have a special exhibit on the Samurai’s influence on Japanese history and culture. S&R Foundation will have a Cherry Blossom Concert Series, with award-winning, world-class Japanese artists featured at the Kennedy Center.

Signature events that help make up the 2012 calendar include the Opening Ceremony on Sunday, March 25 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, a ticketed but free star-studded show seating 6,000 people; Family Days on Saturday and Sunday, March 24-25; the Blossom Kite Festival on Saturday, March 31; the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival on Saturday, April 7; and the National Cherry Blossom Festival Paradeâ followed by the Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival on Saturday, April 14. Free cultural performances will take place throughout the five weeks at both the Jefferson Memorial stage and Sylvan Theater on the Washington Monument Grounds.

To make the grand commemoration possible, the Festival thanks the Centennial Host Committee, a group that has provided significant financial contributions and will provide high level guidance. The committee is led by co-chair Daiichi Sankyo Co., Ltd., who joined the Festival two years ago with the shared vision of making the Centennial Celebration a reality.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is Washington, DC's and the nation's greatest springtime celebration. The 2012 Festival, March 20 – April 27, includes 5 spectacular weeks of events featuring diverse and creative programming promoting traditional and contemporary arts and culture, natural beauty, and community spirit. The 2012 Festival commemorates the 100th anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the United States and Japan.