Wuhan’s famous cherry blossom festival returns a year after lockdown
By Víctor Escribano
Wuhan, China, Mar 22 (efe-epa).- A year after the world’s first Covid-19 lockdown in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which recorded the first outbreak of the virus, the city can once again celebrate its spectacular cherry blossom festival.
There are more than 500,000 cherry trees in the city, although tourists often choose two parks in particular to admire them: Wuhan University and East Lake, which officials say is as famous as cherry blossom parks in Nagasaki and Washington, with 10,000 of the trees spread over more than 28 hectares.
Hundreds of people flock to East Lake despite the cold morning mist and drizzle that causes the trees to shed their petals faster than usual.
The occasion called for it. Wuhan was placed under one of the strictest lockdowns in the world between Jan. 23 and Apr. 8 last year, which meant its inhabitants did not celebrate the Lunar New Year, China’s most important festival and holiday of the year, nor the cherry blossom festival, the city’s pride and joy.
Last year, the trees only received virtual visits, with more than 4.5 million people participating on the first day of a series of live broadcasts in which internet users from other less affected parts of the country could send messages of encouragement to Wuhan’s residents.
On Mar. 13 and 14, the city’s parks paid tribute to the doctors who arrived to help during the early stages of the pandemic, with special visits to the cherry blossoms.
East Lake park’s director, Zou Hui, told Efe that the flowers not only announce the arrival of spring but also “represent hope.”
Last year, many Chinese expressed their intention on social media to visit Wuhan to help the city’s economic recovery, and Zou said that the park is already receiving up to 80,000 visitors a day with the flowering of the trees.
Far from there, more than 50 cherry trees adorn the garden of the old Qingchuan hotel (now controlled by the American Holiday Inn chain), the first hotel to accept foreigners in Wuhan.