Bonn Cherry blossoms will once again attract thousands of visitors to Bonn’s Old Town. April will usher in a pink-colored spectacle to be admired in all its beauty. Here is some information to help you understand what it’s all about.
One can hardly imagine Bonn without this annual pink spectacle. Every spring, tourists from all over the world come to Bonn's Altstadt (Old Town). It’s all because of the cherry blossoms between Heerstraße and Breite Straße. But a blessing for tourism can become a permanent burden for the residents. For two years already, there has been no more official cherry blossom celebration. Officials also rejected Sunday shopping to coincide with the cherry blossom season. But this will not stop thousands of visitors from coming to Bonn’s Old Town.
The 2019 blossoming time
It is difficult to predict exactly when the cherry blossoms will be in full bloom, as the weather plays a decisive role. If it is too warm, the cherry blossoms will wither by mid-April. If it is too cold, the buds open late. Usually, however, the peak of Bonn's flowering season falls in mid-April and then lasts about ten days to two weeks.
A noteworthy development already took place at the beginning of January. The first blossoms could already be seen there - a consequence of the warm start to the year. Especially in the days before New Year's Eve it was very mild. "The plants could have anticipated that spring was just around the corner," explains Markus Radscheit, technical director of the Botanical Gardens at the University of Bonn. "If the trees affected were located near a street lamp, they were also led to believe that the days were longer." In this way, the plants could have been confused. Radscheit cannot say whether the early blossoming phase in January will have an effect on the actual blossoming in spring. One has to wait and see how things develop in the next weeks.
Number of overnight stays increases during the cherry blossom season
For some years now, Bonn Tourism and Congress GmbH (T&C) has been recording steadily rising numbers of arrivals and overnight stays during the cherry blossom season, which usually falls in April. "Especially from the Asian region we have strong growth", said a spokesperson. In 2017, the tourism experts counted almost 5,000 overnight stays and 2,100 arrivals (short bus stops) from Asian tourists - around one fifth of all visitors in April. On average, they stayed 2.4 days. China, South Korea and Japan were at the top of the list. In comparison, the number of overnight stays by Americans remained stable at around 2,700 per month throughout the year.
The topic of mobile toilets has produced disagreements amongst the parties involved. Local residents had complained that sanitary facilities had not been provided for tourists during the cherry blossom season, leading them to use house entrances or front yards instead. The Bonn district council then formulated an emergency motion to the city. It called for mobile toilets to be set up during the three weekends of the cherry blossoms, coming from the district budget. Cost: about 700 euros for four portable toilets. The majority supported the proposal - against the “no” votes of the CDU party, which saw no benefit for the general public that would justify the expenditure. Their perspective was that tourists could use the restrooms in the cafés. A decision will now be made by the Bonn city council.
Origins go back to the eighties
Described as one of the most beautiful districts in Bonn, the Old Town was still quite gray just three decades ago and characterized by heavy through traffic. In the mid-1980’s, several urban planners finally decided to tackle renovation of the narrow streets. The historic facades along the streets were renewed, the traffic situation eased, and Japanese cherry blossoms were planted. And this despite initial protests from local residents who were worried that their apartments would be darkened as a result of the trees. Nobody could have guessed at that time that the pink sea of flowers would become a crowd pleaser.
The trees in the Old Town are called "Japanese flowering cherry" (Prunus serrulata). In Heerstraße and Breite Straße there are 60 Japanese carnation cherries of the variety "Kanzan", which is known for its particularly lush and bright pink flowers.
Trees are being gradually renewed
The cherry blossoms will probably never be an insider tip again. The city has been cutting down and renewing the trees since 2014. Their longevity is about 30 years, which has now been reached. There are a total of 300 cherry trees in Bonn’s Altstadt, more than 40 have already been newly planted. "Although they are smaller, they also flower more quickly," says Markus Schmitz. And that for the next 30 years.
Social media hype
In both the offline and online world, the cherry blossoms in Bonn are now an international event. On social media platforms, Heerstraße is hailed as one of the most beautiful streets in the world. Bloggers mention the Bonn blossoms on their personal lists of places everyone should visit. The Facebook page "Places to see before you die" dedicated a special story to the cherry blossoms in 2012, helping it to become even more widely known around the world. On Instagram, there are several hundred entries about the cherry blossoms with both German and English hashtags.
Open parking spaces in the Altstadt are rare during cherry blossom season. It is better to take tram line 66, getting off at the “Stadthaus” stop. Alternatively, one can take bus line 604 or 605 directly to the Altstadt. There are stops at "Dorotheenstraße" and "Heerstraße". From Bonn’s central train station, it’s about a 15 minute walk along Thomas-Mann-Straße to get there.
(Orig. text: general-anzeiger-bonn.de, Translation: Carol Kloeppel)