It's cherry blossom time again in Washington, DC! For those who have not seen them it truly is a beautiful sight and they do live up to the hype. However, their appearance and "peak" depends on weather conditions in the weeks leading up to the beginning of spring, and can vary widely. As an extreme example, the first time I experienced them, in 1990, the blossoms peaked on St. Patrick's Day owing to mid-February temperatures in the 80s.
The organizers of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the official commemoration of Japan's arboreal gift to the US*, finally figured out that the only way to get the festival to coincide with the actual appearance of the blossoms is to run the thing for over two weeks and hope for the best. As it happens, this year the blossoms are peaking right in the middle of the festival, so congratulations to the organizers for the coincidence.
It is true that the most spectacular and best-known viewing area is the Tidal Basin with its ring of cherry trees, but usually it is overrun with tourists (both DC and imported) and Laura and I have witnessed truly moronic behavior such as people breaking branches off of trees as "souvenirs." It is also surprisingly hard to get to, being criscrossed by major throughfares. My own advice is to explore the area around the Capitol and the Capitol Hill neighborhood in general for some beautiful arrangements of trees and far smaller crowds.
OK, enough of the travelogue. As part of the festival, Union Station is presenting performances on a small stage in the West Hall. A perusal of the acts booked for the occasion (PDF) suggests that this year's theme is "What If Japan Had Won, Sponsored by the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere." Or, "Oh, the Places We Bombed!"
*I said arbor, not harbor! Sheesh.