The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

The Jefferson Memorial is seen through blooming Yoshino The Jefferson Memorial is seen through blooming Yoshino cherry trees along the Tidal Basin in Washington, Friday, April 12, 2013. Photo Credit: AP / Carolyn Kaster

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The National Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the first signs of spring in Washington, D.C., and it's particularly welcome this year, following an unusually harsh winter. Here are some highlights from the festival, which runs through April 13. The National Park Service predicts that peak bloom (70 percent of blossoms are open) will be April 8-12. For more events, go to nationalcherryblossomfestival.org

THROUGHOUT THE FESTIVAL

Tidal Basin Paddle Boat Rides Rent a paddle boat for a full view of the blossoms from the water, daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reservations can be made for times between 10 a.m. and noon. INFO: 202-479-2426

Cherry Blossom Lantern Walks National Park Service rangers lead a two-hour, two-mile evening tour around the Tidal Basin. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 to 10 p.m. INFO: 202-426-6841

Cherry Blossom Talks Listen to park rangers speak about a variety of cherry blossom topics. Daily at 10 a.m., noon and 2, 4 and 6 p.m. at the Jefferson Memorial. INFO: 202-426-6841

OTHER EVENTS

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Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival This daylong festival features music, family-friendly nautical activities and food. April 5, 1 to 9 p.m., fireworks begin at 8:30 p.m. INFO: 877-442-5666

Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony The historic lantern at the Tidal Basin is lit in a ceremony featuring traditional Japanese music. April 6, 2:30 to 4 p.m. INFO 703-989-8992

Japanese Street Festival The largest Japanese cultural festival in the U.S. features food, art and music. April 12, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. INFO: 202-833-2210

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National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade Lavish floats, helium balloons and bands march down Constitution Avenue. April 12, 10 a.m. to noon. INFO: 877-442-5666

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