Spring has arrived in Shanghai and the evidence is blooming in the city’s many parks and gardens. Despite Shanghai’s reputation as an overdeveloped megalopolis, there is an amazing abundance of well-tended green spaces. One of the newest is Gucun Park, and at 180 hectares, it’s the largest of the city’s so-called forest parks which give Shanghai-dwellers the chance to commune with nature, albeit the man-made kind. Gucun Park is laid out with forests, meadows, lakes and canals, and is a popular place for picnics thanks to its large barbecue area. When I heard there was a cherry blossom festival happening there, I knew I had to check it out. So did about two million other people. Seriously. The crowds rivaled those encountered at the Leshan Giant Buddha and the Forbidden City.
Thankfully the park was large enough that we were able to spread out off the main path and get some elbow room. Families brought along blankets and picnic supplies and some people even pitched tents in which to enjoy afternoon naps. Had everyone been content to simply admire the cherry blossoms, things would have been fine. But spring fever had unfortunately compelled many to pluck the flowers and wear them in their hair. I even saw a few people walking around with whole branches!
Even with the crowds and disappearing blooms, it was still possible to appreciate the beauty surrounding me. Gucun Park is home to over 10,000 cherry trees of 28 varieties and the display was dazzling.
The landscape was dotted with weeping willows and blossoming apricot, plum and tulip trees, not to mention roses, camellias and fields of purple Philippine violets. These, too, faced an onslaught of eager hands. One of my favorite feature of the park was the skeletal forest with branches curved from the wind. Miraculously, I somehow managed to get a photo without a single person in the frame! China has made me nothing if not patient.
The 2013 Shanghai Cherry Blossom runs from March 22 to April 30. Tickets cost 20 RMB per person, about 3.25 USD.
Where: Gucun Park, 1 Huandao Lu, 4788 Hutai Lu, Gucun Town, Baoshan District, Shanghai
Getting there: take subway line 7 to Gucun Park Station
Your comments (and photos!) about the crowd demeanor made me laugh. Beautiful nature shots, though!
Having enjoyed cherry blossom season in Kyoto once, this just confirms my observations re: the clear differences between China and Japan.
Thanks! The experience was a little overwhelming so I tried to find the humor in it.
I would love to visit Kyoto during cherry blossom season!! It must be pure magic.
Charli l Wanderlusters says
Superb shots, I love your comment about the confusion over the term ‘flower bed’. The poor women was obviously pooped from all the walking!
Thanks! What that photo of the napping lady doesn’t show is the dozen or so people standing nearby. She tried to find a nice, quiet spot but the crowd just wouldn’t cooperate. It was the theme of the day!
I always thought cherry blossoms were just a Japan phenomenon – so beautiful!
I was surprised too! I always associated cherry blossoms with Japan and plum blossoms with China.
Daniel McBane says
I lived in Shanghai for two years and never once saw a cherry blossom. I moved there from Japan, so I guess I wasn’t all that interested anymore, but I don’t remember any of my Chinese coworkers mentioning cherry blossoms either. I also never heard of Guncun Park, so maybe the whole idea of viewing cherry blossoms hadn’t quite taken hold yet while I was there (2006-2008).
We visited Shanghai in 2008 and it’s amazing how much the city has changed since then. The World Expo spurred a lot of development and beautification projects around town. Gucun Park is very new and actually very lovely. Hopefully they can sort out some crown control issues for next year’s festival.
What a wild excursion that was! Just getting there on the subway was an experience in itself. I was almost overwhelmed by all the people. I’m sure it is a beautiful park when less crowded. The blossoms were so pretty! Didn’t realize there were that many varieties. Would love to see the ones in Japan.
Goodness, but… ever so many unique festivals here in Asia. Thanks a bunch – now I have yet another to add to my bucket list.
Fabulous pics – even with the crowds, you managed to convey the very essence of the festival!
Thanks! I hope you can make it to Shanghai one day!
Hey, I went in 2013 for the grand opening as well. Beautiful, but crazy crowds.
Heather Hall says
I wonder if they’ll still have it this year since they seem to be cancelling events where crowds are an issue.
Hard to say. The flowers will bloom regardless of what authorities say, and it’s gonna be hard to keep people away from the park. Maybe they could implement a daily limit to the number of people allowed inside.
Heather Hall says
I’m sure they had lots of events that could be managed better 🙂