Annual International Peony Festival in Luoyang, China

Annual International Peony Festival in Luoyang, China

The peony is revered throughout China but Luoyang is considered the peony capital. In 2012, the city celebrated the 30th anniversary of the International Peony Festival.

Peony Capital of China Hosts Annual Festival

In China, the peony is the “King of the Flower Kingdom” and a national emblem. Peonies are native to many Asian regions, southern Europe and western North America however this Chinese festival is truly international with flowers shipped to Luoyang from around the world. Thousands of peony plants are showcased in addition to countless peony beds in parks and private gardens located in and around the city.

Chinese celebrities headline the televised festivities. Foreign and national dignitaries and tens of thousands of curious sightseers flock to pay their respects to the beloved blooms. To date, passionate enthusiasts have propagated more than 600 new varieties in the peony beds of Luoyang. Although peony experts have cultivated the flower for centuries, additional variants are introduced each year.

Preparations for the Peony Festival Are City-wide

The planning for this event is ongoing, organizing each annual festival takes months. Event co-ordinators enlist local organizations to help recruit thousands of volunteers. Yet the bulk of the work starts just weeks before the throngs of tourists begin arriving.

The opening ceremony alone often utilizes nearly 10,000 costumed volunteers. Local university students perform as singers, dancers and less-skilled volunteers for synchronized ‘color shows’ utilizing things like pom-poms or flower-like umbrellas. Colorful potted plants are arranged in elaborate displays in parks, on the steps of large buildings and even on bridges. Official festival banners are affixed to thousands of posts.

Buses are borrowed from private companies, taxis tidied, additional parking areas are paved and high school students take over pedestrian control duties so police can direct traffic. Volunteers, especially those with foreign-language skills, are selected to help host the hordes of sightseers that swarm the flower beds like bees in springtime.

Buddhist Temples, Tang Dynasty Relics and More

After its capital, Zhengzhou, Luoyang is the second largest city in the province of Henan. It is considered Chinese tourists’ best-kept secret. The city’s popularity is not based on the famed flower alone. It’s also known as an ancient capital, noted in history books as the seat of government of thirteen dynasties. Luoyang lures travelers with many not-to-be-missed sights:

Of all the places to visit, anyone on a trip to China during April must visit Luoyang. Registration records indicate that less than 100 foreigners reside in the Luoyang area with six-and-a-half million inhabitants. Locals in this enclave in the heart of China still give Westerners instant celebrity status. Peonies, historical sites, and friendly people all contribute to the popularity of this rural city that hasn’t yet adopted a sense of sophistication.

 

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