Fancy cherry blossoms but Japan is too far? Fret Not! Taking place from the 17th to the 19th of November, 2023, Shillong’s Cherry Blossom Festival is just what you need. In the month of November each year, the Northeastern state is witness to the lush blooming of Himalayan cherry blossoms and the pretty sights are sure to take your breath away.
Ever since 2016, when this festival came into existence, the state has been hosting swarms of tourists who come to witness the stunning landscapes lined with blooming trees and enjoy the local culture, food, and music. A variety of competitions are held, and both local and big names can be seen performing.
Here’s a guide for you to know and plan everything for the Shillong Cherry Blossoms Festival and enjoy it to the fullest
Shillong’s Cherry Blossom Festival
The Cherry Blossom Festival in Shillong began on the 14th of November, in the year 2016. It was inaugurated by the Meghalaya Chief Minister, Dr Mukul Sangma at the Polo Ground that year. This inauguration of this festival was also honoured by the presence of the Japanese Ambassador to India, Kenji Hiramatsu.
The festival is an annual celebration started by the Government of Meghalaya, where a number of events from live music, cuisine, competitions and concerts take place. The festival is held around the month of November and is the most vibrant festival in the state. The Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the natural beauty of the Himalayas with the autumnal blooms. The Western Khasi Hills are adorned with the beauty of the Himalayan cherry blossoms during this time of the year. It is considered a gift from the mountains and is also believed to be a sign of good luck.
This year, Meghalaya’s Tourism Minister, Paul Lyngdoh declared that this year the Cherry Blossom Festival will take place from November 17 to 19. The festival this year has a lineup of well-known artists such as Jonas Blue, Ronan Keating, Hybrid Theory and Kenny Music Group. The event will take place in Ward’s Lake, which is located at the heart of the city.
The event is as extensive as it can be, with a plethora of activities lined up. There are going to be singing competitions, the Shillong Cherry Blossom Pageant, fashion cosplays, several stalls featuring a variety of culinary delicacies and beverage stalls with an array of drinks, beer and wine.
How to reach
The venue for the Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival is Ri Bhoi this year. Ri Bhoi is situated near Shillong and is a well-connected area. Ri Bhoi can be reached via air, train or road. For those travelling via air, the nearest airport to Ri Bhoi is the Shillong Airport, which is also known as the Umroi Airport. Although there is no direct railway transportation option to Ri Bhoi, the nearest railway station is the Guwahati Railway Station, and after that, the journey needs to be continued via road. If you are planning to go by road, you can take either private or public vehicles, from both Shillong and Guwahati.
Main highlights of the Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival
Not just a mesmerising event which showcases the unique natural beauty of the North East of India, the Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival has a lot more to it. With cultural events, beauty pageants, traditional performances, exhibitions, food and art being a part of the festival, it forms the perfect platform for cultural exchange. The festival acts as a boost to the local economy, as it forms a mode of income for the hotels, restaurants and local businesses.
Gaining quick and profound popularity, the Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival has also won three prestigious awards at the WOW Awards Asia.
Here's what you can do at the Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival
- The festival is centred around the celebration of the blooming of the cherry blossoms. Take your time to witness and take in the beauty of the breathtaking site of the pink and white blossoms that engulf the cherry trees.
- The festival is a way of showcasing the cultural heritage of Meghalaya, as well as that of North East India. Indulge yourself in the traditional dance and music performances to learn more about the local culture.
- The festival includes activities such as nature walking, trekking, sightseeing, adventure sports and a lot more for visitors to witness the natural beauty of the area.
Several stalls are set up in the festival grounds for visitors to indulge themselves in the local cuisine, art and culture. There are shops which sell handicrafts and various souvenir items.
- Workshops are conducted for the visitors to practically experience the local cultures and traditions.