With winter temperatures dipping into the negative numbers, many of us are wishing for spring. In Washington, D.C., there's no better sign that warm days are coming than when the cherry tree buds begin to burst open with colorful shades of pink blossoms.
Gifted with the trees by Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki in 1912, the district annually hosts the National Cherry Blossom Festival to commemorate his generosity and the trees' beauty.
The official artwork for the 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival is unveiled — Photo courtesy of National Cherry Blossom Festival
But before you come to the three-week festival – which begins this year on Friday, March 20 – be sure to go shopping first at the event's online gift shop. The online shop features a number of official products for the upcoming event, which is attended by guests from all over the world.
This year's artwork design pairs a cherry tree with two famous landmarks in the district: the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial in a backdrop of pink, orange and yellow hues, with touches of green.
The design can be found on short- and long-sleeve t-shirts, key chains, postcards and posters. Leave a spot in your Christmas box, because there's also a festival ornament, too.
If you prefer to just pick up items with the festival name, the online store does not disappoint. Hundreds of items with different designs await your eyes. Since the festival occurs during the first days of spring, a hat, scarf, sweatshirt or jacket may be appealing.
For those hoping for warmer temperatures, snap up some t-shirts and sunglasses. You'll be walking a lot when you come here, so buying an official water bottle or tumbler may be a good idea to stay hydrated.
Jewelry featuring the beautiful blossoms is quite a popular choice, including bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings.
You can even make a tax-deductible contribution to the festival ranging from $5 to $500, or pick up the online exclusive pink mini lights made to recreate the beauty of the flower petals.
Once you get to the nation's capital for the festival, there are a number of events you can wear or bring your purchases to, including the March 21 opening ceremony, featuring well-known performers; the March 28 Blossom Kite Festival on the National Mall; the April 4 fireworks; or the April 11 parade.
Whatever you decide to buy, make sure the purchase is something to remind you of the beauty the blossoms bring to Washington, D.C. in the spring.