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International Cherry Blossom Festival: The Southeast's Top Spring Kick-Off Event

With origins dating back to the early 19th century, Macon, Georgia, is a historic and visually stunning destination for your next big vacation. Beginning as a frontier outpost named Fort Hawkins in 1806, it didn't come into its own until 1823 when the growing city was named after Nathaniel Macon. The Civil War brought action to Macon, and it was defended three times before its eventual surrender. The surrender helped preserve the city’s beautiful Victorian architecture and the local neighborhoods influenced by the Greek revival. Currently, Macon has roughly 100,000 residents, and the preservation of its history gives it a unique level of visual and historic appeal.


The things to do while you're visiting Macon are numerous and entertaining. Take a tour of all the impressive and informative historical sites, museums, and historic buildings, to get a hands-on look at the rich history of the area. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the lush natural surroundings and activities like fishing, hiking, geocaching, horseback riding, kayaking, boating and so much more. The cultural scene in Macon is diverse and vibrant. Try stopping by one of the theaters or performance art centers that are consistently putting on unique shows. To get the full scope of the Macon area, you need to participate in one of the major local events like the International Cherry Blossom Festival.


For nearly three and a half decades, the International Cherry Blossom Festival has been a staple in the Macon community. Each year tens of thousands of people make the trip from all over the country to participate in all the great activities. This event is the ultimate when it come to a fun experience for the entire family. Your kids will love the rides, attractions, hands-on activities, and the vibrant setting of the festival. In addition, there will be multiple acts performing live music, a vast array of food options, and plenty of friendly folks to interact with. Make your next vacation one for the ages and head to Macon for the International Cherry Blossom Festival. We got the chance to interview Tracie Hill, Event Representative for the International Cherry Blossom Festival, to talk about the event.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the festival.

TH: This is the 34th annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Tens of thousands of people from all over the country (and even some special visitors from featured countries) make their way to Macon, Georgia, each year to take part in the festival.


There is truly something for everyone at the festival. There are many family-friendly events, such as the annual two-day Food Truck Frenzy, amusement rides at Central City Park, free ice cream and donuts at Third Street Park and more. For couples and young adults, the festival hosts an annual Music Festival that highlights several local and regional artists at various venues in downtown Macon. Additionally, there are nightly concerts in Central City Park that appeal to a range of ages and musical preferences. There are also special days at Central City Park to recognize and honor senior citizens, as well as those who have served/currently serve in the military.


RAL: What makes the event unique?

TH: The Festival is an event that is full of culture and history, and it brings excitement, tradition, and international friendship to Macon and all of Middle Georgia. There are so many events to choose from during the Festival that there is really something for everyone. Not only are there concerts and musical performances, there are a wide variety of options to choose from, no matter your musical preference. Macon is honored to have such a rich musical and historical heritage, and the festival highlights all that Macon is and has been.


RAL: Take me through what attendees will find for activities, food and overall environment.

TH: For activities we have parades, concerts, shopping, food, and exciting events for the whole family! There will be performers from both local acts/groups and others from across the country. There’s a wide variety of performers and special guests.  This year we have everything from a Las Vegas Tina Turner impersonator to local musicians and bands.


Many of the local restaurants have Cherry Blossom-themed specials. Even the local brewery, Macon Beer Company, has a special Macon Love brew, that is infused with cherries and has a pink color. There’s also fair food at Central City Park (the fair-style portion of the Festival that lasts for 10 days), a 2-day Food Truck Frenzy featuring food trucks from all over the country, and a pink pancake breakfast that features just what it says – pancakes made with pink batter!


The environment at the festival is inviting and fun! There’s a great sense of culture, with emphasis on three featured countries. This year’s countries are Japan (a country that is also home to a large Yoshino cherry tree population), Taiwan and Uganda. There will be several special performances by the Sozo Children’s Choir, a group of talented singers from Uganda. The atmosphere at the Festival is family-friendly, and appealing to people of all stages of life.


RAL: What will attendees find for local lodging?

TH: Several of the local hotels offer special promotions during the festival. There is a historic hotel (1842 Inn) and a large hotel in downtown Macon (Macon Marriott City Center), both of which appeal to people who want to be within walking distance of many of the events that occur in downtown Macon. Lodging occupancies can vary, but it’s always a good idea for those interested in attending the Festival to call and book their stay in advance.


RAL: What does the festival mean to the community?

TH: A lot of business is generated during the festival. It has a substantial economic impact on the community. With the thousands of guests, both local and from afar, there are more people that eat at local restaurants, particularly the ones in downtown Macon. Additionally, the exposure that Macon and Middle Georgia receives from the event is invaluable.


The festival is actually a non-profit organization itself. It exists to benefit the city of Macon, as well as all of Middle Georgia. Additionally, the festival also partners with other local non-profits for some of its sanctioned events, such as the High Heels for a Cure event benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Macon Mud Run benefiting Hephzibah Children’s Home.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

TH: The Festival is in its 34th year. It aims to provide a sense of culture, while focusing on being welcoming and facilitating international friendships. Additionally, the festival has much to offer for people from all walks and stages of life. Family-friendly events, as well as events catered to more specific demographics, are available. There’s truly something for everyone and there is a large range of dates, which also serves to be more inclusive of those that have to travel, have other commitments, or work during the day. The festival is a great way to partake in the rich culture of Macon and Middle Georgia, while having fun, learning, and enjoying great food and entertainment.

For more information about the International Cherry Blossom Festival, please visit their website.