Cherry Blossom Fest: A Cultural Blend Of Music, Lit, And Heritage
As soon as I stepped into Shillong, where I would attend the city's much-awaited Cherry Blossom Festival 2023, I noticed the air was pleasantly chilly even though the sun's rays were warm and comforting. As my driver navigated the traffic of this charming hill station, giant posters and barricades advertising the fiesta greeted me all across the city.
The event is named so mainly because the beautiful pink cherry blossom trees are in full bloom, particularly around this time of the year.
Wheels In Motion
The festival kick-started with the Shillong Literary Festival at Ward's Lake, a lively tourist spot in the city's heart. Taking in the scene was a cultural feast for the senses. Several colourful stalls were spread all across the beautifully designed artificial lake, selling everything from books to local food and handicrafts.
Throughout the three days of the celebration, audiences were delighted by various conversations with authors, book launches, photography exhibitions, quizzes, workshops, poetry and storytelling sessions, as well as music performances.
Mist and Music
The first day of the Cherry Blossom music festival turned out to be a rainy, misty day. Unfortunately, the organisers were forced to postpone day one due to inclement weather, as the venue, the RBDSA Sports Complex in Bhoirymbong, is open-air. Even though fans were disappointed, Shillong luckily woke up to a bright, sunny morning the following day. Later in the day, the belated carnival finally started.
Some items included a war between 12 DJs from different parts of the northeast and the annual Mr and Miss Cherry Blossom contest. Apart from that, there were performances by Pink Panda, Snow White, Rahul Rajkhowa, Banjop, Kenny Musik, Gwyneth, CYCO and Chevinia. The headline acts for the evening were American singer-songwriter and actor Ne-Yo and American rock band Hybrid Theory.
The weather gods continued to be favourable on Sunday, the last day of the commemoration. Even as Australia beat India in the World Cup final the same evening, the occasion ended on a triumphant note with performances by NOKPANTE, Da Minot, The Blue Temptations, Lou Majaw and DJ Zethan. The main act for the evening was Irish singer and songwriter Ronan Keating, who regaled the packed house with some of Boyzone's most-loved tracks. The party ended with the crowd swaying to many of Mumbai-based pop-rock band Sanam's original songs and their renditions of popular Bollywood classics.
Though the Cherry Blossom Festival, which returned to the city after a gap of two years, began with a minor hiccup, it was well worth the wait for audiences—looking forward to seeing what next year's lineup has in store!