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Cherry blossom festival in full bloom
By Qu Zhi

Spring is one of the best times of year for flower viewing, especially when cherry blossom, with its famous transient beauty, comes into bloom.

And Shanghai residents looking to see the best blossoms know that Gucun Park in Baoshan District has it all.

The Third Gucun Park Cherry Blossom Festival runs until mid-April, with more than 10,000 trees in 28 varieties of sakura creating a spring sensation.

After accumulating experience over the past two years, this year the festival is on a bigger scale - with more explosions of pink and better service promised.

Whichever gate visitors enter, they can view flowers within 10 minutes. Most of the cherry trees have been planted for up to five years, becoming more beautiful with each passing year.

There are four main areas for cherry blossom viewing in the park, including the Forest Walking Park, the Children's Forest Carnival Park and two Countryside Forest Parks.

The total area is more than 500,000 square metres - 200,000 square meters more than last year.

The Forest Walking Park and the Children's Forest Carnival Park are spots visitors shouldn't miss.

Zhang Zhong, the section chief in charge of park management for ecological projects in Baoshan, says the Forest Walking Park boasts more trees and varieties than other areas. A wooden path winding through offers a poetic way for visitors to enjoy the sakura.

The Children's Forest Carnival Park boasts cherry trees of very high quality. The sakura-viewing area covers an area of more than 100,000 square meters, with 500 trees in four varieties.

"Visitors can ramble on the wooden path admiring the blossoms at the Forest Walking Park, while at the viewing area in the Children's Forest Carnival Park they can sit by the trees and simply enjoy the scene," says Zhang.

Newly opened areas not only boast cherry blossom viewing but also classy architecture where visitors can admire pavilions carved with classic Chinese poems.

For those who love sports, soccer, tennis, table tennis and basketball are on offer, while yoga and dance workshops are also available.

This year, due to the weather, some cherry trees blossomed about 10 days earlier, according to Zhang, so the season may last longer.

In addition, yulan magnolia trees, cherry apple trees and other greenery are in blossom, too.

Facilities at the festival have also been improved this year, say officials. Last year, the festival attracted a large number of people, bringing issues of food and refreshments, security, parking and toilets.

This year, 1,600 parking spots have been added, plus two plazas with wide choices of outlets where visitors can refuel. Moreover, the established Wanshang Plaza also contains dozens of brand catering and franchise outlets.

Improvements have also been made in the number of toilets available.

Special activities remain popular.

This year, the park has collaborated with the post office to create its very own cherry postmark and postage stamp. And specialised postcards and greeting cards are available as souvenirs.

Meanwhile, due to its popularity in the past two festivals, a photography contest is again in full swing.

Amateurs and professionals are iwnvited to capture beautiful moments in the park to share with others.

And if all these diverse attractions weren't enough, Gucun Park is also hosting Chinese traditional performances for its cherry blossom extravaganza.

Museum for folk arts and crafts

Baoshan International Folk Art Museum is the key project of intangible culture heritage in Shanghai and attaches a great emphasis on exchanges with international folk artists.

The design of the museum is based on the shape of a Chinese knot, an auspicious folk symbol.

The museum is located at the junction of Hutai Road and the Outer Ring Road, just a short distance away from the park.

Too tired to walk? Fear not, Gucun Park has organized electric buggies to transport visitors from Gate 1 to the museum.

This year, during the park's cherry blossom festival, there are six contemporary exhibitions of various characteristics of ethnic culture.

These include Nepali culture, international mask, kites and personal collections of Chinese tea sets. Full tickets are 30 yuan (US$4.78) each.

However, a free exhibition is also a highlight. "Photographs of Long-gone Figures and Historical Relics of Old Shanghai" is being staged in collaboration with Shanghai History Museum.

In more than 160 years as an international city, Shanghai has been a melting pot of people from around the world and this exhibition provides an authentic view of that.

Through old photographs and other items, visitors are able to get a glimpse of the old lives of Shanghai locals and their relation with Western culture.

Besides, an exhibition of photographs by Zhu Xiuzhu in the museum which opened last Thursday is perfectly matched with the cherry blossom festival this year.

It features more than 70 works by the artist on the theme of flowers, including peony, lotus and more.

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