- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 23, 2005

It’s spring, and for Washingtonians that means the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. For two weeks every year, more than 500,000 people flock to the Tidal Basin for the parade, the blossoms and the color. This year’s festival includes specialty foods, cultural performances, bike rides, Mickey Mouse and specialized exhibits. The festival begins on Saturday and runs through April 10. That should be right in sync with the trees’ blooming schedule, but check the festival’s Web site for up-to-date reports. For an event schedule along with maps and suggested tours see www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org or call 202/789-7000.

Big toppers

From P.T. Barnum’s “Greatest Show on Earth” of 1871 to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey troupes of today, the circus has entertained people of all ages with high-flying trapeze artists, death-defying stunts and the chance to see live animals up close. Tonight it begins a three-week stand in the nation’s capital. The MCI Center hosts the three-ringed extravaganza first, tonight through Monday. On Wednesday, the circus opens at the Patriot Center, where it plays through April 3. Then it heads to the DC Armory for shows April 6 to 17. Tickets are $12 to $80. Times vary. For schedules see www.ringling .com or call 202/397-SEAT.

Whitman’s Washington

The Washington Friends of Walt Whitman, that one-time denizen of the District, want you to know that this year is the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Whitman’s masterpiece, “Leaves of Grass.” To mark the event, they are staging a two-month festival to begin Saturday. First on the schedule is a poetry reading featuring Mark DeFoe, Grace Cavalieri, Sarah Browning and Hilary Tham at Grace Church, 1041 Wisconsin Ave. NW, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday. Admission is free. Call 202/333-7100 or see washington art.com/whitman/walt.html.

Spinning hits

Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook, knows how to make people dance. The British native’s dance-inducing beats have made him an international superstar, and he plays a late set at the 9:30 Club on Saturday to promote his new album, “Palooka- ville.” The turntables begin to spin at 11 p.m. Tickets are $35. 815 V St., NW. 202/393-0930.

You get egg roll

It’s not a state dinner, but it may be more fun. It’s the White House Easter Egg Roll, set for Monday on the South Lawn from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. And it’s definitely child’s play: Adult attendance is limited. Free timed-entry tickets will be given out — first-come, first-served — at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion at the southwest corner of 15th and E streets beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday and Monday. There is a five-ticket maximum per person. One child must be 7 or under; no more than two adults are allowed per group. For a history of the event, see the story on page M17 of this issue. For information, call 202/456-7041.

For more than 100 years the African American Family Celebration has attracted families from all over the area for a day of outdoor activities. This year’s celebration, on Monday, includes an Easter egg roll, “Zoo Olympics,” craft workshops, hands-on science activities and with a special food bazaar. The event kicks off at 10 a.m. and runs through 4 p.m. at the National Zoo. Admis-sion is free. 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202/673-4800.

How did they do that?

Magic, contortion, martial arts and juggling become part of the show when the National Acrobats of Taiwan take the stage. The 40-member troupe defies gravity and physics on Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. at the George Mason University Center for the Arts. Tickets are $21 to $42. Braddock and Chain Bridge roads, Fairfax. 703/218-6500.

Thomas Walter

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