National Cherry Blossom Festival: What You Need to Know

The National Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off this weekend.

— -- It's one of Washington's most iconic events: the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Each year, thousands arrive in the nation's capital to see the pink and white blossoms in bloom.

The 2016 festival kicks off this weekend and here's what you need to know about the "nation’s greatest springtime celebration."

The History

DC's cherry blossom trees are a gift from Japan. The initial 2,000 trees were donated in 1910. The trees became infested with insects and were burnt down by order of President William Howard Taft. In 1912, Japan donated an additional 3,000 trees--two of which were planted in a ceremony with First Lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador. The Cherry Blossom Festival grew out of this ceremony. In 1927, school children re-enacted the initial planting, holding the first "festival." The celebration was greatly expanded in 1935. Today, the festival commemorates those gifts and the friendship between the two nations.

The Festival

The Blossoms