National Cherry Blossom Festival begins Saturday

The National Cherry Blossom Festival officially starts this Saturday, with an opening ceremony slated at the National Building Museum that will feature the Ambassador of Japan and Miss D.C. among other performers. The festival is scheduled to last through April 11.

An annual two-week event, the festival celebrates the blooming of the cherry trees surrounding the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial. The trees were a gift from Japan in 1912.

Performances are scheduled throughout the week near the Tidal Basin, and include a fireworks show on the southwestern waterfront April 3. A parade, held on April 10, will mark the end of the festival.

According to the official Cherry Blossom Festival Web site, the peak bloom dates will be April 1 through April 4. Peak bloom dates are defined as days when 70 percent of the blossoms are fully blooming.

Monitoring the blooms is a full-time job held by National Park Service horticulturists who provide forecasts and updates as needed, according to the service’s Web site. Horticulturists update the site daily with bloom briefings.

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