The Willard InterContinental, one of Washington, D.C.’s most historic hotels, celebrates the 2016 National Cherry Blossom Festival March 20 through April 17. Replete with real cherry blossom trees, the Willard offers a celebration toasting to the hotel’s unique history with Japan with festive offerings including a Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea, Japanese inspired cuisine and specialty cocktails at the Round Robin Bar, as well as a variety of programming designed to promote traditional Japanese art and culture.
Over the past 156 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. Fifty-two years later, in honor of their enduring friendship, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gifted Washington, D.C. with 3,000 cherry blossom trees. Now, 104 years later, Washington, D.C. continues to commemorate this gift with the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
In celebration, the Willard InterContinental creates a visually stunning display of real cherry blossom trees throughout the hotel’s lobby and Peacock Alley. Visitors to Peacock Alley will also be able to view handmade Kimekomi dolls by Akiko Keene of the Washington Japanese Dolls and Crafts School.
The Willard’s famous Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea will be offered as part of the hotel’s festivities. Seated in the blossom-laden Peacock Alley among the soothing sounds of the Japanese Koto, guests enjoy a broad selection of Ronnefeldt teas, Japanese-inspired savories by Executive Chef Serge Devesa, as well as decadent pastries by Pastry Chef Jason Jimenez. Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea is offered March 18 to April 17, from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Price is $52 per adult, $22 for children up to 12 years of age
The Round Robin Bar will offer Japanese inspired bar bites, including Japanese Crab Onigiri with sweet and sour sauce served with a seaweed salad, and a Kukuni Pork Belly Sandwich served with Asian relish and a spicy teriyaki glaze on a Japanese Bun. Cherry blossom themed specialty cocktails will also be available throughout the festival, including:
- Sake Blossom: Sake, Chambord, Yuzu Juice, and Simple Syrup
- Matsumoto Manhattan: Yamazaki Whisky, Carpano Antica, Apricot Jam and Brandied Cherry
- Kyoto Cocktail: Shoshu Rice Liquor, Grapefruit Juice and Peychaud’s Bitters
New this year to the Willard’s Cherry Blossom Celebration is the addition of a variety of programming celebrating Japanese culture and art. Offered on April 2, 10, 16, and 17, from 5 to 6 p.m., the Willard will feature Japanese music and dance performances, martial arts routines, as well as Japanese Calligraphy, Shiori and SUMI-E Brush Painting Demonstrations.