Flower - Scented Cities

From İstanbul to London, from Amsterdam to Washıngton, D.C., many cities are going to bloom wıth flower shows and festivals in the year ahead. If you’re up for a feast of color and fragrance any time of year, here are six great travel suggestions.

Essen International Plant Fair
(January 24-27)

Easily accessible when you fly from Istanbul to Düsseldorf, the town of Essen hosts one of Europe’s most important flower fairs. The fair also offers an opportunity to see all the non-commercialized plants that aren’t included in the flower wholesalers’ catalogs. The plants and flowers at IPM Essen are displayed in a simple unadorned space. You can see the local plant species of Germany as well at this fair, which also appeals to areas of special interest such as cactus, orchid and bonsai.

Absolutely One of Europe’s leading cities of culture, Essen boasts the Zeche Zollverein Mining Complex, the Museum Folkwang, the Hügel Chateau, the Aalto Theater and Münster Cathedral among its sights worth seeing.

Washington D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival
(March 20 to April 27)

If you happen to go to D.C. in spring, it means you’ve come to the U.S.’s most beautiful city in this season. The cherry trees that start blossoming in mid-March transform the nation’s capital into a fairytale landscape. Occupying an important place in Japanese culture, the cherry trees were sent to Washington by the Tokyo local administration in 1912 as a symbol of friendship. Their blossoming all over the city is celebrated every year in a month-long festival.

Absolutely the National Aeronautics and Space Museum is one of the most popular venues in this city that welcomes some 30 million tourists annually. And you’ll even get a chance to touch a moon rock!

İstanbul International Tulip Festival (April)

Held for the sixth time in 2011, the festival is expected to take place again in April of this year.  Istanbul’s most beautiful tulips are also determined by popular vote at this festival, which last year included photography, painting and paper marbling exhibitions as well as musical performances. Yıldız, Emirgan, Beykoz, the Hidiv Kasrı, Fethipaşa and the Çamlıca Groves are the main venues for the festival, which literally transforms Istanbul’s green areas into a series of brilliant multicolored canvases.

Absolutely A few hours’ stroll on the historic peninsula, listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage, will take you to monuments like the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapı Palace and the Grand Bazaar.

Japan Sakura Festival

Called sakura in Japanese, cherry blossoms open in March, creating magnificent landscapes through April in Kyushu province especially. Immediately afterwards the flower shows known as hanani get under way. Thousands of people come to see the flowers during this time of festivals when picknicking under the pink and white blossoms is an ancient tradition. The Sakura and Hanani festivals are celebrated in many parts of the country from Tokyo to Okinawa.

Absolutely capital of Japan for more than a thousand years, Kyoto is the country’s center of art and philosophy with its many museums, universities, and the imperial palace, an aesthetic and architectural wonder.

Hortifair International Florist Fair (October)

One of Europe’s biggest flower, greenhouse and agricultural technology fairs, Hortifair takes place in Amsterdam in mid-October. Staged at the one of the city’s leading fairgrounds, the RAI, the event offers a visual feast to impress even those not interested in flowers. Especially popular are the light shows and colorful collages made of flowers. Everything from curious plants from the Far East to potted house plants is on hand in dizzying variety at this show which lasts a total of four days.

Absolutely attracting a million and a half visitors a year, the Van Gogh Museum is open daily from 10 to 6 (10 p.m. Fridays). Entrance 14 euros.

Chelsea Flower Show (May 22-26)

Held since 1862 in the London district of Chelsea, the Chelsea Flower Show is mounted by the English Royal Horticultural Society. Some 200,000 people a year attend the event, in which members of the British Royal Family take a close interest. Hundreds of rare plant species are exhibited in the garden of the Royal Hospital at the show, which also includes a gardening equipment display and flower competitions with prizes. www.rhs.org.uk

Absolutely how would you like to watch a Premiere League match in London? Chelsea is hosting Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on January 14 and Manchester United on February 5.