Go Beyond the Basin During the National Cherry Blossom Festival® - March 24 - April 27, 2012

Fairfax County, VA - March, 2012 - It's been a century since Japan presented the National Capital Region with the iconic Cherry Blossom trees that grace our landscape each spring. This year, Visit Fairfax partners are celebrating the splendor and majesty of these national treasures with exhibits and self-guided garden tours that showcase the natural beauty of Fairfax County during the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival® (www.fxva.com/cherryblossom).

Garden Tour

Between March 24th and April 27th, Festival visitors are invited to plan a self-guided tour of the area's splendid gardens. In addition to the District's iconic Tidal Basin and the U.S. National Arboretum, plan stops at the following not-to-miss sites:

River Farm www.ahs.org/river_farm (703-768-5700)
A historic 25-acre site on the banks of the Potomac River, River Farm was once part of George Washington's original five farms, and currently the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society. The grounds offer spectacular river views, a wildlife garden and delightful children's areas.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens www.nvrpa.org/parks/meadowlark (703-255-3631)
More than 100 cherry trees surrounding a lovely lake, an extensive shade garden, native wildflowers, gazebos, birds, butterflies, seasonal blooms and foliage. Also be sure to visit the singular Korean Bell Garden while you're there. There is a nominal entrance fee.

Green Spring Gardens www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/gsgp (703-642-5173)
There's something here for everyone: a wooded stream, valley with ponds, a native plant garden, over 20 thematic demonstration gardens, and a greenhouse filled with tropicals. It's an outdoor classroom, a museum and a national historic site.

During the Festival, visitors are encouraged to check in at the main desk at each location to receive a special memento. Log onto the individual websites or call for hours and directions.

Cultural Events
March 31 - Celebrate Japanese Culture at Green Spring Gardens
Make an elegant Shoji table lamp with wood and rice paper for a warm accent light anywhere in your home. Materials are supplied, and refreshments of Japanese teas and sweets will be served. From 10 am - 12 pm. Fee is $35 per person (adults only please). To register, follow the Celebrate Japanese Culture link online or call 703-642-5173.

April 5-6 - Children's Cherry Blossom Celebration at Green Spring Gardens
Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Gift of the Cherry Trees at Green Spring Gardens. This open house format includes hands-on activities from artful origami to finding the flowering cherry trees in the gardens. From 12 pm - 4 pm. Fee is $6 per person (free for children 2 and younger). To register, follow the Celebrate Japanese Culture link online or call 703-642-5173.

April 21 - Bonsai Demonstration at Green Spring Gardens
Jack FitzSimons shares examples of different bonsai types and their ancient history, and discusses styling methods, trees that are suitable for bonsai in our area, proper care and suitable containers for bonsai. From 9:30 am - 10:30 am; Fee is $15 per adult and free for children. To register, follow the Celebrate Japanese Culture link online or call 703-642-5173.

April 21 - Japanese Art and Culture Day at the Workhouse Arts Center
Enjoy an afternoon from 12 pm to 4:00 pm of free workshops, demonstrations, performances and talks featuring Japanese art, culture, music and food by horticulture and fine arts professionals. The Japan-America Society of Washington, DC, also will host a Japan Festival Booth featuring a kimono fashion show, traditional children's games, and more. That evening, the Workhouse Film Institute will present a Japanese Film Festival double feature, including an anime matinee (4:30 pm) followed by a 7:30pm screening of a film for more mature audiences. $5 for each film; $8 to see both. Due to limited seating, advanced purchase of tickets is encouraged. For questions or to order tickets, please call 703-584-2900 or order online at www.workhousearts.org.

April 22 - "Wabi-Sabi: Embracing Imperfection" at Green Spring Gardens
Discover your sense of wabi-sabi, the Japanese art of finding beauty in the naturally imperfect world. Then enjoy a Japanese tea-tasting in the garden and contemplate the perfect imperfection all around us! From 1 pm - 3 pm; Fee is $25. To register, follow the Celebrate Japanese Culture link online or call 703-642-5173.

March 31-April 22 - Dinner for the Washingtons Tour at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens
In honor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, visitors who participate in the new Dinner for the Washingtons walking tour will receive a taste of cherry punch, adapted from Martha Washington's recipe, through April 22. The Dinner for the Washingtons one-hour walking tour goes behind the scenes to showcase food, hospitality, and dining at Mount Vernon with an in-depth look at locations around the Estate. The tour ends in Mount Vernon's greenhouse with a special 18th-century cooking demonstration and tasting. This special tour costs $5 per tour in addition to Estate admission. Dinner for the Washingtons is offered at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays only. Tickets are available online at MountVernon.org or in person at the Ford Orientation Center.

March thru April - "Japan's Gift to Nature: Oriental Brush Painting" Exhibit at Green Spring Gardens
Oriental Brush Paintings by Darlene Kaplan have captivated art lovers everywhere. Experience purity in painting the snow, brightness in the moon, fragrance in the flower, sound in the waterfall and spirit in people. Two free simultaneous exhibits run March 1-April 29, 2012: Monday-Saturday, 9 am - 4:30 pm and Sunday 12 pm - 4:30 pm in the Horticulture Center; and Wednesday-Sunday at the Historic House, 12 pm - 4:30 pm.

March 20-April 27 - Petal Pass Discounts at Tysons Corner Center
Show your Petal Pass card at Guest Services anytime during the festival and receive a free discount book to take advantage of some great discounts. The Petal Pass program is a part of the City in Bloom campaign, presented by Capital One Bank. Petal Passes will be available at area Capital One Bank branches across the region, and serve as an interactive guide to the many area attractions providing special offers.

Fairfax County's Festival Center
The official Fairfax County Capital Region Visitor Center in Tysons Corner Center (on 2nd level outside Nordstrom) is "Festival Central" in Fairfax County. The public is invited to stop in for free gifts, Festival schedules and information on activities throughout the region. The visitor center will also host a special event on March 31st from 12 to 3 pm with cultural demonstrations of origami and calligraphy.

Visit Fairfax is the official tourism organization for Fairfax County, Virginia. Charged with destination marketing and tourism promotion, it is directed by many of the County's top tourism and hospitality leaders. For more information on deals, events and more, download the free Visit Fairfax app at www.fxva.com/mobile.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival® is the nation's greatest springtime celebration. The 2012 Festival, March 20 - April 27, includes five spectacular weeks of events featuring diverse and creative programming promoting traditional and contemporary arts and culture, natural beauty, and community spirit. The 2012 Festival commemorates the 100th anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the United States and Japan.

# # #

MEDIA CONTACT: Melissa Gold - White+Partners PR for Visit Fairfax
melissag@whiteandpartnerspr.com; Ph: 703-599-1643