Cherry blossom festival to kick off March 20 in Washington

Kyodo

Washington’s annual National Cherry Blossom Festival will run from March 20 to April 14, with blossoms forecast to reach their peak blooming period from March 26-30, event organizers said Monday.

This year’s event, which will mark the 101st anniversary of the planting of cherry blossom trees presented as a gift from Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki in 1912, is expected to draw more than 1.5 million people to the U.S. capital, the organizers said.

The event celebrates the arrival of spring as well as “the enduring friendship between the people of the United States and Japan.”

Highlights of the event will include Japanese food tasting, fireworks and a popular downtown parade.

Celebrity performances, including Grammy Award-winning artist Mya and Elliot Yamin from “American Idol,” join giant helium balloons, speciality units, marching bands from across the country and elaborate floats, the organizer said.