• Gucun prepares for cherry blossom fest

    THE annual Cherry Blossom Festival at Gucun Park in Baoshan District will start next Friday and run until middle of April.

    The more than 12,000 cherry blossom trees — of 82 species — in the park is the largest in the city, and will start blooming from this week.

    Cherry blossoms can bloom and wither in as little as seven days, but the different species mean some of them bloom earlier and others later, said Zhang Zhong, the general manager of the park.

    The Kawazu-zakura cherry blossom, for instance, has partly bloomed, while the popular Yoshino cherry should flower later this month, Zhang said.

    Apart from cherry flowers, the park operators have planted over 10,000 square meters of tulips and 200,000 square meters of orchids, cole flowers and other varieties, he said.

    About 100,000 people are expected to flock to the park on peak days during the festival through April 15. The park is expecting more visitors in early April when most of the cherry flowers will be in bloom.

    The park, said to be the largest in Asia, can handle 120,000 visitors at a time, but its entry will be limited to 96,000 people, or 80 percent of its maximum capacity, to ensure safety, Zhang said.

    More subway trains will be pressed into service to clear the park if the number of tourists surpasses the park’s maximum capacity of 200,000, said Qin Weixu, deputy director with the district’s transport commission. Ten shuttle buses will be on stand by to transport the large number of visitors to the nearest stations of Metro Line 1, 3 and 7.

    Authorities have this year allocated 2,000 extra parking space. A total of 5,400 cars can be parked at one time.

    Last year, a record of 182,966 visitors visited the park on April 3 during the Qingming Festival holiday.

    Since the festival was launched in 2011, it has become one of the most popular events for locals as well as for visitors from neighboring provinces.

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