Uzhhorod Cherry Blossom Festival

Uzhhorod Cherry Blossom Festival
The custom of enjoying the transient beauty of cherry blossoms (hanami) originated in Japan, but it has become very popular in many countries. Cherry blossom festivals take place in various parts of the world, from East Asia to the Americas to Europe. For example, the most popular cherry blossom festival in Ukraine is held in the city of Uzhhorod.

You may ask, “How come a small city in Western Ukraine has enough Japanese cherry trees to host a cherry blossom festival that attracts tourists from all over the country and abroad?” Actually, there are two main versions. According to popular legend, Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I was waiting for a Japanese delegation. The delegates were carrying Japanese cherry seedlings as a present for the emperor. On their way, they spent the night in the city of Mukachevo, where local residents stole the seedlings and then sold them to the neighboring city of Uzhhorod under the guise of regular cherry trees.

According to the official version, the sakura trees were planted in Uzhhorod in 1923. At the time, the city was part of the Republic of Czechoslovakia. When the Czecho-Slovak government began to plant trees in Uzhhorod, it turned out that very few trees could grow in the city’s water-logged soil. The Japanese cherry, however, took root, so it was decided to bring more seedlings from Vienna and plant them throughout Uzhhorod.

Be that as it may, today Uzhhorod is home to the longest sakura alley in Europe. It was planted along the river Uzh in 2009–2011. To celebrate spring and cherry blossoms, as well as to attract more tourists from Ukraine and neighboring countries (Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania), Uzhhorod hosts the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, also known as Sakura Fest.

In Japan, sakura blooms from the end of March to early May. Ukraine has a colder climate, so the cherry bloom season in Uzhhorod typically begins in mid- to late April. The program of Sakura Fest includes live concerts, street performances, art and craft fairs, and other exciting events and activities, many of which are organized by the students of the Faculty of Tourism and International Communication of the Uzhhorod National University. The official mascot of the festival is Count Sakura, who presides over the celebration and participates in all events.

Uzhhorod Cherry Blossom Festival




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