UPDATE: The festival now stands cancelled for 2022 due to some violent incidents in the state. Unfortunately it has become the norm in the region of late and I see no hope for the Tourism industry here with such mindset.
So, the Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival is back for 2022 after some hiatus due to the pandemic. As we all know, the Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival takes place in the month of November to mark the ephemeral blooming of pinkish-white cherries. Good music and local wines are primary draws.
These photographs are from a previous visit and now I am putting together this updated guide for the Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival in 2022.
Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival: All You Need to Know
When does the Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival Take Place?
It normally takes place in November. For the exact date, check their official site or social media pages before you start planning every year.
What are the dates for Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival in 2022?
The Festival is being organized this year from 24th to 26th November 2022. There will be some other concerts and activities throughout November, leading to the festival.
When does the Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival Take Place?
The main venue of the festival is Polo Ground Shillong, a major field in the middle of the city. However, smaller events can also spread across the city in places like Ward’s Lake and some stadiums in the city. Normally these places are not far from each other and not hard to reach once you are in the city. There will be heavy traffic during the festival, so walking will be actually less frustrating.
How to travel from one venue to another during the cherry blossom fest?
Hiring a cab for yourself can be expensive in Shillong. So, check the map and get yourself acquainted with the place names within the city so that you can hop into any of the cabs carrying locals. This way, you should reach any place in INR 10-20.
Is there any fee for attending Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival?
Yes, you will have to book tickets for every day separately. There are two types of tickets, general and VIP. Nowadays they have made it somewhat too expensive.
What are the ticket prices for Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival?
General Ticket INR 899 (Per day per head)
VIP Ticket INR 5000 (Per day per head)
Where to book tickets for Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival?
What to expect during the Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival?
Apart from the Cherry Blossom, you can enjoy the musical concerts by national and international bands, and always try the local food, rice beer, and fruit wines. They should be easily available in the stalls around the venues.
Who are the artists performing in Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival 2022?
There will be many artists during these three days including local favourites, Bollywood stars as well as international bands. A few top names include Lou Majaw, Papon, Nikhil Chinappa, Hybrid Theory, Jonas Blue, HRVY etc.
Where, when and how to find the Cherry Blossoms in Shillong?
As you must have realized already, the blossom timings are not exactly predictable. The festival is planned to time with the blossoms but as it happened this year, it turned out to be a bit too early. No one can exactly predict the nature but ideally, they bloom in November and they last 2-3 weeks only. However, once they start blooming, you can see them all over the city and you don’t really have to search for them.
What else to do in Shillong?
Well, Shillong has been a popular hill station for ages. There is much more to do here even if you don’t make it to the festival. There are many other reasons to visit Shillong. Primarily, you can visit the waterfalls within the city such as the Elephant Fall, Bedon Bishop Falls, Spread Eagle Fall, Crinoline Fall etc. You can get a panoramic view of the city from Shillong Peak. As it will be the cherry blossom season, even random meandering along the streets will give you good frames. Shillong also has many great cafes and eateries. You can of course venture out of the city. The main attractions of Meghalaya are not too far from Shillong. The likes of Dawki/Shnopdeng, Mawlynnong, Cherrapunji/Nongriat, Smit/Laitlum, Phe Phe and Krang Suri, Mawsynnram, Nongkhnum River Island, etc are doable if you have an extra day or so.
How to reach Shillong?
By Air: Shillong has an airport but it is a new one with very limited connectivity. Also, the airport is still 30 KMs away from the main city. Alternatively, you can find a flight to Guwahati, which is a much better-connected airport. You will easily find cabs to Shillong outside Guwahati airport.
By Rail: Guwahati railway station is the nearest major station as Shillong does not have rail connectivity. You can find shared cars or buses from Paltan Bazar in Guwahati, just outside the railway station.
By Road: You will get shared cars from Paltan Bazar (near Railway station) or Borjhar Airport. They should cost no more than INR 300 per head and takes around 3 hours or so. You can also take local transport to reach Khanapara, which is on the edge of Guwahati, and get a shared Tata Sumo for only INR 170. Buses exist but they are infrequent and timings may be awkward but they will be cheaper if you can get one.
Where to Stay in Shillong?
Shillong is a big city and there is no dearth of hotels of every possible budget and also some homestays. However, there may be a rush during the festival. So, book in advance.
For budget travellers, there are also a couple of backpacker hostels where you can find a bunk bed for INR 600-800. Otherwise, there will be cheap hotels here and there but you will have to find them by roaming around the city.
Shillong Cherry Blossom Pictures
Here are some more Shillong images from an older Cherry Blossom fest. Pictures are taken from various parts of the city including Ward’s Lake.