It has become clear that the National Cherry Blossom Festival will not be sacrificed to fears of a possible coronavirus outbreak in the D.C. area. However, Japan, homeland of cherry blossom festivals, cancelled its own celebrations.
Preparations for the annual festival, which is slated to take place between March 20 and April 12, 2020, seem to be in the works.
“At this time the festival is moving ahead as planned. We are monitoring the situation closely and we continue to try to understand all the facts and information that is available to us,” Diana Mayhew, president of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, told WTOP.
The fact that there will be artists and other guests from Japan at the festival events may alert some. None of the expected participants have called off their visit so far.
“As of right now we understand that they are taking precautions in Japan, but to my knowledge … they are moving forward,” Mayhew was quoted as saying.
The number of attendees to D.C.’s festival from around the world is expected to see a decline. But the turnout can still be high from D.C. area residents and other U.S. states.
On the other hand, Japan announced Tuesday that it has cancelled its own cherry blossom festivals due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. The country’s iconic celebrations attract millions of people every year.
Currently, there over 900 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, in Japan. The number includes 706 people from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that docked near the Japanese capital of Tokyo. A total of 12 people died, including six from the ship.
This year’s Olympics that were planned to kick off on July 24 in Tokyo are likely to be delayed, as well, according to the country’s Olympics minister.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival honors the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to Washington, D.C., and celebrates the friendship between the people of the U.S. and Japan.
The festival’s highlights are:
- Pink Tie Party – March 20
- Opening Weekend – March 21
- Opening Ceremony – March 21
- Blossom Kite Festival – March 28
- Parade – April 4
- Petalpalooza – April 11.