Pink cheer is in the air, quite literally, as Shillong gets set to celebrate the lovely hues of the cherry blossom tree. You heard it right, now there’s simply no need to plan an international trip to Japan to witness the charm of cherry blossoms. Because Shillong, the majestic capital of Meghalaya in the North East is all set to host the first ever International Cherry Blossom Festival from 8 – 11 November. So, book that flight to the surreal vistas of Meghalaya and cheer all you can with cherry blossom cheer!
A Blossoming History
Shillong is proud to be hosting the event under the banner of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. What makes it unique is that it is possibly the world’s only autumn cherry blossom festival, because the much-admired tree typically blooms in other countries during spring time (March-April).
It is interesting to note that this is not the first time that such an initiative revolving around cherry blossoms has been hosted. Realising that this unique floral element of the state could prove to be a socio-economic booster through eco-tourism development, IBSD, which is an institute under the Department of Biotechnology had initiated a cherry blossom festival in association with the Meghalaya government in 2015. Thereafter, the first official Cherry Blossom Festival was held in Shillong last year i.e. in 2016, but back then it was just a national event. Since then, this pink glory has been showered with much love and attention. This year marks the growth of this initiative to an international level, and is set to be matter of pride for nature-lovers. To recreate the resplendence of Japan, nearly 5,000 cherry blossoms have been planted along the route to Shillong, in and around areas such as New Shillong, Mawphlang, Ward’s Lake and others. These are sure to extend a very warm welcome to those who arrive to soak in the warm hues of the pretty flowers. 😊
What to look out for!
This is one festival that’s not just limited to blissful blossoms. There so much in store for everyone, you are sure to have a blast! From drawing and painting competitions to storytelling sessions, get your creative juices flowing as you take a break from the mundane. For fitness freaks, or those who wish to have some outdoors fun amidst the pretty pinks, there’s a “Cherry Blossom Run” organized on one of the mornings. For those are all about the glam fame, be sure to take note of the Miss Cherry Blossom, and beam at the cameras and paparazzi!
The festival intends to introduce visitors to the unique culture of this north-eastern state. A traditional archery competition may have you applauding the superb skills of the arch men. Another adventurous streak of the event will be the Stunt Biker’s display. For a North East Indian immersion, take a glimpse of the “Colours of North East” India show- a cultural extravaganza. Food is an essential part of any culture, and rightly, the team has included a “Food and Wine Fest” to satiate those foodies out there! And let down your hair and throw a blast at the DJ’s Music event and the “Rock Show”, which shall perfectly represent “India’s Rock Music Capital”.
But what truly sets this festival apart are its unique offerings. A “Night Walk” under the illuminated Cherry Blossoms is sure to rekindle the romance with your better half, or even with your own best self!
Why you should visit?
Shillong is one of the world’s largest remaining communities of matrilineal culture and has a rich bounty of forest wealth- the North East is a biodiversity hotspot. It is a hub of adventure tourism, thanks to opportunities for mountaineering, rock climbing, trekking and hiking, caving (spelunking) and water sports. This is an opportunity to spread awareness about Meghalaya as a tourist destination. Apart from being an opportunity to explore a unique land, participating in the event is a great way to contribute to the local community. Ecotourism has immense scope for livelihood generation and creating livelihood opportunities. Travel to this “Abode of the Clouds” and witness the wonders of this magical land.
When to visit: 8 – 11 November 2017
How to reach:
By flight: Nearest airports are Umroi Airport (35 km from Shillong) and Guwahati Airport (128 km by road). There are some M.T.C. Bus services that run between the town and these airports.