Participants cheer before starting the 10km women’s jogging event last Sunday at Gucun Park.
The event, first introduced to the annual cherry blossom festival this year, attracted about 3,000 joggers.
SHANGHAI’S unusually warm winter is bringing local flowers into early bloom, attracting large crowds to see these exquisite displays of nature.
Gucun Park in north Baoshan District has become one of the most popular attractions with its 12,000 cherry blossom trees, the largest concentration of such trees in the city.
The park’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival started this Wednesday and will run into mid-April. The event is part of the district’s aim to promote eco-tourism.
Cherry blossoms can bloom and wither in as little as seven days, but the park’s operators have prepared different species of cherries which bloom earlier and remain open longer.
The park’s Kawazu-zakura cherry blossom, for instance, is now in full bloom; while the Yoshino cherry, one of the most popular cherries, should flower by the middle of the month.
There are more than 80 types of cherry blossom tree in an area covering some 800,000 square meters. Over 20,000 square meters of tulips will also offer a fresh vista to visitors.
Most of the cherry flowers will bloom around mid-March, when the park will be covered by a pink sea of flowers, an official with the park said.
Over 2,000 late cherries are expected to bloom in early April, when colorful cherry flowers in red, pink, yellow and green will create another wonderful sight, the official added.
Last year, about 1.6 million people visited during the month-long festival. A record 168,000 flocked to the park on its peak day.
This year, more than 100,000 people are expected each day during the festival period. More are expected to come on the first weekend of the festival, when most of the cherry flowers will be in bloom, said Huang Zhende, a senior official with the district’s greenery bureau.
To better serve the large number of visitors, the district government and park operator have prepared a number of cultural activities, such as photography and poem-writing competitions as well as a public poll to select the most beautiful cherry trees.
The park operator has marked the “eight most popular trees” in the park, which people often photograph. Through the park’s WeChat account, visitors are invited to vote for the “Cherry Tree Queen” this year. A lucky draw will be held among the poll’s participants and 30 lucky visitors will win a gift from the park.
Another highlight, a match-making event, will push the cherry blossom festival to its climax. Single young visitors can also visit a wooden pavilion behind the cherry flower area, where they can take part in games designed to introduce them to new friends.
Other cultural activities such as traditional Chinese operas, fashion shows and martial arts performances will be held at an open-air stage in the park during the festival.
A Children’s Forest Carnival will have a carousel, mini-train, pirate ship and a four-dimensional cinema, among other attractions. Visitors can also take their children to a bird park with over 80 species. They can purchase souvenirs at a chocolate-themed park.
Visitors can walk to other tourism attractions near the park, such as Meilan Lake and the Shanghai Museum of Glass. They can also taste local-style cuisines at nearby restaurant and hotels.
More buses will be dispatched to carry visitors from nearby stations on Metro Lines 1 and 3 to the park during festival, said Qin Weixu, deputy director with the district’s transport commission. Most cherry blossom viewers are expected to take Metro Line 7 to the park, he said.
Authorities have this year set aside 2,000 extra parking spaces near the park, creating room for 5,400 cars in total.
Tickets for this year’s event cost 20 yuan (US$3) for adults and 10 yuan for students. A 4-yuan discount is offered to people between 60 and 64 years old on production of a valid identity card or passport. Visitors over 65 years old can enjoy free admission.