Save the Date for RIRA's Signature Event, the Cherry Blossom Festival

The Cherry Blossom Festival, organized by The Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA), will be held on Saturday, April 13. SAVE THE DATE for a memorable afternoon.


Once again, as we celebrate the magnificent cherry trees in bloom on the Island and the breadth of Japanese culture in New York City, RIRA is pleased to sponsor the Annual Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival, in cooperation with the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) and Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park.


Residents and visitors of all ages will see, hear, dance, and even taste aspects of traditional and contemporary Japanese culture and performing arts.


Performance at FDR Four Freedoms Park during 2018 Cherry Blossom Festival  


Japanese culture has long venerated viewing the cherry blossoms of spring. Originally a private celebration hosted by the Emperor and select members of the aristocracy, today the activity of visiting the trees in bloom is seen as a metaphor for life, for the beautiful buds last but a short time and fade and die quickly. The government of Japan has donated cherry trees to many cities around the world as a symbol of friendship, and festivals like ours are held in many locations.


As in the past, the Tea Ceremony will be held in Southpoint Park; also, the Roosevelt Island Japanese Association will present a Japanese Cultural Fair at Gallery RIVAA. The Japanese tradition of picnics under the cherry blossoms will continue on the West Promenade across from Cornell Tech. Residents and visitors may bring their own food or supplement their picnics by purchasing refreshments from nearby food vendors.


New this year: Noguchi Museum will be presenting an art activity in South Point Park open to children and adults. Four Freedoms Park has an Eventbrite registration for updated information. Please note: No tickets are necessary to attend the festivities.


The schedule and locations of these events, which are open to all guests, are FREE:


  • Japanese Cultural Fair at Gallery RIVAA: 11am - 2pm This is an interactive and multigenerational event; try on traditional kimonos and play a traditional Japanese children’s game.

  • Community Picnics: 11am - 2pm and Limited Food Vendors (under the Cherry
    Blossom Trees on the West Promenade, across from Cornell Tech): 11am - while food is available. Picnicking under the Cherry Blossoms is the most traditional Japanese celebration of the Cherry Blossom season. There are many spots to picnic under the Cherry Blossom Trees that form a virtual necklace around Roosevelt Island. The Roosevelt Island Disabled Association and Roosevelt Island Parents’ Network will host their annual picnics, and all others are welcome to picnic under Roosevelt Island’s many cherry trees. Please feel free to bring your full picnic baskets.

  • Tea Ceremony in South Point Park: 11am - while tea is available. Demonstrations of traditional customs are a delight to behold.

  • Art Activity with Noguchi Museum in South Point Park: 11am - while materials are available

  • Performances in Four Freedoms Park: 12:30pm - 5pm


 Food vendors line up adjacent to the Cherry Trees on the western promenade 


For many residents and visitors, a highlight of the Cherry Blossom Festival are the performances at FDR Four Freedoms Park, which feature traditional and contemporary Japanese musical performances and traditional Japanese dance.


This year’s Performances include: Shamisen (Kicho Kai, Japanese String Ensemble), Japanese classical dance (IchiFuji-kai Dance Association), Koto (Masayo Ishigure and Koto Shamisen Ensemble), Modern Japanese blues (Kayo Yoshioka of Neo Blues Maki), Japanese Folk Dances (RI Japanese Association Yosakoi Dancers), Community Folk Dance Lesson (sponsored by Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance), Japanese Taiko Drummers (Soh Daiko).


The Cherry Blossom Festival was created by RIRA, an advocacy organization. Together, we create cultural awareness and educate residents and neighbors in an event that celebrates renewal, peace, civility and the beauty of nature and the arts.


RIRA thanks its many partners who contribute to the Cherry Blossom Festival’s success: The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) has been most supportive, as have Cornell Tech, Four Freedoms Park, Gallery RIVAA, the Roosevelt Island Japanese Association, Girl Scouts, Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance, Noguchi Museum, RESOBOX, Roosevelt Island Disabled Association and Roosevelt Island Parents’ Network.


RIRA’s goal is to continue to make Roosevelt Island the best place to live!


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