Visitors enjoy cherry blossom in Pa Khoang, Dien Bien. (Photo: VNA)

Dien Bien (VNA) – The cherry blossom festival will return to Pa Khoang commune, Dien Bien district, the northwestern province of Dien Bien for the second time from January 11 – 13, 2019.

A series of cultural events will be held during the festival which was launched in 2018 to lure more visitors to Hoa Island in Pa Khoang commune to enjoy beautiful cherry blossom. They will include an exhibition of local distinctive culture, community activities and folk games of mountain tribes, agricultural market of the ethnic locals and a space for displaying traditional cuisine of the northwestern region.

Visitors to the festival will also have a chance to explore Japanese tea ceremony, Japanese rice wine Sake and Mong Pe, an aromatic wine of Vietnam’s northwestern region distilled from maize fermented with a special forest leaves.

The People’s Committee of Dien Bien district, the organizer of the festival, expects that the number of cherry trees in full bloom at the time when the festival takes place will triple that of this year.

The festival is intended to promote the beauty of people and nature of Dien Bien and foster the development of Pa Khoang – Muong Phang tourism complex as the province sets to make Hoa Island a popular destination. Visitors to the island during the festival will be offered free admission.

It also serves as a curtain raiser for the celebration of the 65th year of Dien Bien Phu Victory and 110th founding anniversary of the province.

Residents of Dien Bien district refer to Hoa Island, which sits in the middle of the district’s pristine Pa Khoang Lake, “the island of cherry blossom”.

There are about 1,000 cherry trees on the island, which bloom brilliantly during spring (January to April). The trees, imported from Japan and grown locally, are called “higan sakura” with “higan” a reference to a spring Buddhist holiday celebrated by Japanese.

They were nurtured by Dr Tran Le, a Vietnamese scientist who specialises in plant tissue culture. Le spent months wandering the country to find a suitable place for the trees, after a Japanese friend had given him the seeds.

He found the island in 2006, where he successfully planted them. Out of the 10 initial seeds, eight survived and after eight years a large part of the 600ha-island is covered with “sakura” petals during spring.

The beautiful cherry blossom started attracting visitors in recent years. Besides the trees, a large collection of exotic plants and flowers are gathered from across the country on the island. — VNA