Places and Events of Interest
Between sessions at the 2019 AAG Annual Meeting, there is plenty to do and see while visiting the Washington, D.C. area. As the capital city of the U.S., Washington, D.C. hosts the three branches of the federal government as well as many foreign embassies and influential non-governmental organizations. The District is also home to a population of over 690,000 people, making it the 20th largest city in the U.S., while the wider metropolitan area has over 6 million people, pushing it up to the 6th largest metro in the country. The mixture of governmental institutions and local citizens create a cultural landscape to explore. From the free Smithsonian Museums and National Zoo to the historical neighborhoods and music scenes to the growing number of culinary, arts, and athletic venues, D.C. is a unique place to discover.
The 2019 National Cherry Blossom Festival
One of the most popular festivals in Washington, D.C. is the National Cherry Blossom Festival
, held the last two weekends of March through first two weekends of April each year. Celebrating the start of the spring season, the National Cherry Blossom Festival coincides with the blooming of cherry trees along the Tidal Basin of the Potomac River and surrounding the Washington Monument. The trees, a gift sent from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo, Japan in 1912, represent the friendly relationship that has existed between the United States and Japan for over a century. The festival annually attracts more than 1.5 million people who visit to view the blooms amidst the Jefferson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr. memorials and partake in the various cultural performances on festival stages.
The planting of the cherry trees was originally conceived as an idea by Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore, the first female board member of the National Geographic Society, in 1885 upon returning from a trip to Japan. Scidmore persisted in her desire to obtain the trees for 24 years, finally writing a letter to First Lady Helen Herron Taft in 1909. After hearing of the desire for the cherry trees, the Japanese consul sent 2,000 trees to Washington, D.C. in 1910. Unfortunately, the trees were diseased and could not be planted. However, Japan sent a second ship of 3,020 trees in 1912. These trees were planted in a ceremony held between First Lady Taft and the wife of the Japanese ambassador on March 27, 1912.
The first cherry blossom festival was held by several civic groups in 1934 to commemorate the tree planting ceremony. Though the blooming of the trees occurs within the time frame of the festival, peak blooms happen on a different date each year due to local weather conditions and are monitored by Bloom Watch
forecasters. Today, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is marked by a variety of events starting with an opening ceremony
at the historic Warner Theater (this year on March 23, 2019) and closing with the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
(this year on April 13, 2019). The festival includes a range of daily activities such as cultural performances, sushi/sake celebrations, fashion shows, art exhibits, and bicycle tours. Other notable headlining events include the Blossom Kite Festival
and the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run
To visit the National Cherry Blossom Festival, it is recommended to take public transportation to the National Mall and walk to the Tidal Basin. The closest metro stop is the Smithsonian Station on the Orange/Blue/Silver lines. From the conference hotels, ride the Red Line Metro starting at the Woodley Park station to Metro Center station. At Metro Center, transfer to a Blue, Orange, or Silver train to Smithsonian Station. Alternatively, the DC Circulator Bus National Mall route encircles the Tidal Basin area. This route costs $1 and is accessible from the bus stop at 12th St. and Madison Dr. NW, a few blocks from the Federal Triangle Metro stop on the Orange/Blue/Silver lines.