In full bloom

This year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival is certain to give people a deeper appreciation of Washington

The festival runs from March 27 to April 11 and features extensive activities from all areas of the city.

“My favorite part of the festival is the ability of it to have an impact on a variety of people in different ways and that is showcases the best of our city at such a wonderful time of year,” said Diana Mayhew, president of the festival.

“Cherry Blast” at the Adams Morgan Warehouse is one of the newest events of the festival. The event began last year and became an official event this year.

“The festival did not have something that was geared toward the younger, alternative crowd. We wanted to tap into that,” said Philipa Hughes, creator of the Pink Line Project who was in charge of arranging most of the event. “This is a large sub-section of the city. Preparing for the event is never just cold-calling people. There is a definite process to it.”

The event was planned in October. It will move from its previous location in Anacostia.

“Last year we had about 700 people come. This year we are hoping to expand to about a thousand,” Hughes said.

The Sylvan Theater is another venue that will have events for the public to sample. Alissa Greer, the special events coordinator at the Downtown Business Improvement District and the National Cherry Blossom Festival, was in charge of getting a large cross-section of acts to come and display their talent.

“Usually we have an open call back in November for local bands. This year we did some more work with talent managers from IMP Productions. We also did some work with the D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities to get people to come.”

Greer also has a few favorites of her own from the festival.

“I have always enjoyed the performances put on by the SAPAN Institute. There is a Bollywood feel to it. There is also great crowd interactions, great colors and great costumes,” Greer said.

A group of dedicated volunteers is usually on hand to help acts move equipment on and off stage. The end of the performance schedule involves a ceremony where participants and sponsors are thanked.

Restaurants from across the city are also adding cherry-themed items to their menus. More than 70 restaurants will offer items like “pink cherry-flavored macaroons” from the Adour Restaurant to “cherry-honey gastrique” from the Zola Wine and Kitchen.

Travis Timberlake, the executive chef for the Art and Soul Restaurant, was in charge of creating a “cherry picks” menu for customers. Timberlake explained the process for finding ideas for an appealing menu.

“Cherries are in this season this time of year, so we came up creative ways to incorporate cherry flavors with ingredients that are in season. Since the cherry blossom trees were a gift from Japan, we also looked to Japanese cuisine for inspiration.”

Timberlake said his previous experiences as a chef helped him prepare for the festival.

“I also spent a number of years cooking in Asian inspired restaurants so I pulled from my experience to create offerings like the Hamachi Sashimi and Japanese Soba noodle salad with sour cherry-sake sauce.”

The cherry blossoms are expected to bloom between March 28 and April 9. Their peak is between April 1 and 4.

The festival draws to a close with the Credit Union Ten Mile Run and a 5k run-walk. Both events will last from 7:45 am to 11:30 am. The Corcoran Gallery of Art also offers a Corcoran Family Day where families can come enjoy ukiyo-e (Japanese art) and a “blossoms in bloom” photo contest.