The Willard InterContinental, one of Washington, D.C.’s most iconic hotels, celebrates the 2018 National Cherry Blossom Festival March 15 – April 22. Replete with real cherry blossoms, The Willard will offer a slate of tribute-worthy events and experiences including their Annual Rose Romp and their ever-popular History Happy Hour. Their celebration will also include a variety of nightly programming designed to promote traditional Japanese music and culture. In addition, guests can book a special festival overnight package, sample Japanese-inspired gourmet treats at their famous Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea or sip a few Cherry Blossom-curated cocktails at the Round Robin Bar and Café du Parc.
Over the past 158 years, the Willard has embraced its history with the Japanese after hosting Japan’s first ever delegation to the U.S. in May 1860. Comprised of three Samurai ambassadors and an entourage of 74, the Japanese delegation came to Washington to meet with President James Buchanan to ratify the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation in an effort to build a close relationship between the two nations. Then 52 years later, in honor of their enduring friendship, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gifted 3,000 Cherry Blossom trees. Now, 106 years later, Washington, D.C. continues to commemorate this gift with the National Cherry Blossom Festival and as such, the Willard has created the following to pay homage to the city’s beloved Springtime celebration.
Cherry Blossom Package
March 24 – April 21
Starting at $379 per night
The National Cherry Blossom Festival has come to define Spring in Washington, D.C. and The Willard is no stranger to Cherry Blossoms as 1,200 pounds of the exquisite Yoshino Cherry Blossom “trees” adorn its lobby and Peacock Alley during this time. In fact, Greenworks, their in-house florist, builds each cherry tree with 40 pounds of real cherry blossom branches. This year, travelers visiting during the festival can take advantage of the Willard’s special Cherry Blossom Package which includes a space-available upgrade, $50 daily food and beverage credit, valet parking for one vehicle and a welcome amenity of a cherry-themed Japanese dessert.
Saturday, April 7; 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
$99 per person (21 years+)
The Willard InterContinental in partnership with Château d’Esclans, a prestigious estate and winery in Provence, France, will host their annual Rosé Romp. A participating event of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the Rosé Romp toasts the hotel’s unique history with Japan and the city’s iconic cherry blossom trees, while celebrating the winery’s most exemplary rosé wines. Kicking off Spring social season, this premier event will take place on the hotel’s outside terrace and feature all you can eat and drink, live music, entertainment and rose tastings with Château d’Esclans’s winemaker, Paul Chevalier. Guests are invited to dress in their most festive springtime attire as they sip delicious wines including the ever-popular Whispering Angel Rosé. Tickets go on sale March 8.
History Happy Hour – Flowers of Friendship: Unearthing the Story of the National Cherry Blossoms
Friday, April 13; 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
$49 per person (21 years of age+)
This session of History Happy Hour will examine one of Washington D.C.’s most beloved traditions, as well as the friendship between the U.S. and Japan, a relationship that blossomed at The Willard nearly 157 years ago. The enchanting narrative gives the history of how one idea to beautify Potomac Park evolved into a complex initiative spearheaded by First Lady Helen Taft. Guests will join The Willard’s legendary bartender, Jim Hewes, and Ann McClellan, the author of Cherry Blossoms: The Official Book of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, as they recount how Helen Taft’s desire to plant the first Japanese cherry trees along the Tidal Basin to create an enjoyable public space later led to a symbol of peace and friendship between the two nations. Tickets can be purchased online.
Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea
Thursdays – Sundays, March 15 – April 22; 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
$58 per adult (not including tax and gratuity)
$68 with glass of Moet & Chandon Champagne
$25 per child, 5-12 years of age
The Willard’s popular Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea is offered as part of the hotel’s festivities celebrating Chery Blossom season. Seated in the blossom-laden Peacock Alley amongst the soothing sounds of the Japanese Koto, guests will enjoy a broad selection of teas and Japanese-inspired savories and pastries created by Executive Chef Peter Laufer and Pastry Chef Jason Jimenez. Some menu highlights include Teriyaki-Cured Salmon tea sandwiches, Strawberry & Sesame Shortbread Kukki and Matcha Green Tea Scones. Reservations are required and can be made by calling (202) 268-9100.
Specialty Cocktails at the Round Robin Bar & Café du Parc
Offered March 15 – April 22
Festival goers can enjoy cherry blossom inspired cocktails at Café du Parc or visit the Round Robin Bar where they will seep in its rich history, learning about the notable characters that sat there before them from Mark Twain to Abraham Lincoln, while renowned bartender Jim Hewes dazzles them with a variety of unique concoctions. The bespoke Cherry Blossom menu will include the Japanese-influenced Kyoto Crush made with Cherry Bitters, Saki, Grenadine, Blue Curacao and Sparkling Wine, the aptly named Blushing Blossom, a mix of Sparkling Wine, Rose, Triple Sec and Cherries, and the Cherry’s Jubilee, festive spin on the Classic Mint Julep.
Cherry Blossom Programming
Throughout the duration of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, The Willard will offer complimentary nightly performances celebrating Japanese music and culture. Held in the hotel’s lobby between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., the schedule will take place as follows:
March 25, 2018
Sawai Koto Academy – Hear the melodies of traditional Japanese instruments, such as the Koto and Shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute), performed by Keiko and Masahiro Nishiham.
March 31, 2018
Ryukyu Sokyoku Hozon Kai- Sarina Sokyoku Kenkyusho – Enjoy performances of Ryukyuan Okinawan classical music and dance.
April 7, 2018
Washington Japanese Language School – A springtime choir performance from the students of the Washington Japanese Language School.
April 8, 2018
Capitol City Strings – Classical violin performances by Capitol City Strings of selections by Bach, Dvorak, Seitz, Schumann and Elgar, among others.
April 14, 2018
Okinawa Cultural Performance by Momo Onno and Nestor Folta – An evening showcasing Okinawan / Ryukyu classical court dancing and Karata Kata by renowned performers Momo Onno and Nestor Folta.
April 15, 2018
Japanese Choral Society of Washington – Traditional and contemporary Japanese choral music performed by the Japanese Choral Society of Washington.
For more information on the Willard InterContinental or the hotel’s cherry blossom festivities, visit www.washington.intercontinental.com or call (202)- 628-9100.