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More than a blooming festival

Spring is coming to the Shanghai Flower Port in Nanhui District with a dazzling exhibition of tulips. The bulb grower will showcase millions of tulips from today until mid-April.

The 99.75-hectare flower port has a 360,000-square-meter greenhouse, the biggest in China, and a 3,500-square-meter research and development center for new floral species. It produces nearly 100 million flower seedlings each year.

But what delights visitors most is its Dutch Tulip Park, a Chinese version of Holland's Keukenhof, with traditional Dutch architecture with windmills and girls in Dutch costumes strolling about.

The five-year-old floral festival this spring will display more than 3 million tulips, hyacinths, lilies and other bulb flowers covering over 500 species.

About 15 percent of the tulips are new, like the American Dream which is golden yellow with red edging, and the Black Hero, a double flower with velvety dark maroon, introduced from Holland this year.

The show area spreads out over 500,000 square meters, unfolding a grand sea of tulips for its visitors.

"The temperature is higher by 1.7 degrees Celsius than last year, which will make the flowers blossom fully one week earlier this year," said Shen Qiang, the port's general manager.

He said recently about 50 percent of the tulips had bloomed and full blossoming will occur over the Tomb Sweeping Festival around April 4-8.

The new Leisure and Science Park, constructed last year in the east of the flower port, is a must-visit section.

It features a 5-hectare solar-energy greenhouse where visitors can get close and personal with flowers like anthurium andraeanum (flamingo lilies), phalaenopsis, roses, lilies and many others.

After the spring tulips, water lilies will be the stars of summer in the port. Visitors can walk to the center of the lakes where lilies grow on wooden paths winding through the water.

"You can see the nectar in the wine glass-shaped flowers in the early morning. I've tasted them and they are very, very sweet," says the general manager.

To embrace next year's Shanghai World Expo, the flower port has "planted" at the main entrance a cute Expo mascot Haibao made out of hundreds of Muscari botryoides Mill, a species of hyacinth whose delicate blue is close to the mascot's color.

In fact, the port has been preparing for Expo since last year, choosing flowers that can bloom in the hot summer from June to October, says the general manager.

"We tried many types and finally chose roses," says Shen. Experts have created many new species of roses which can grow not only on bushes in the ground but also climb up pillars and over roofs.

Another highlight at this year's tulip show will be the Barbie Doll Exhibition, a treasured collection of more than 1,700 Barbie dolls in various designs and costumes collected since 1959 by MWS, a German company.

The touring exhibition has been to 35 European cities, attracting millions of children and doll lovers.

To ease transport between the flower extravaganzas and the city's downtown, the Shanghai Tourist Transport Center (6426-5555) will provide daily shuttle buses during the festival.

The Tulip Show at the Shanghai Flower Port

Opening hours: 8am-5pm, from today

Address: southern end of the Zhengdong Rd S., Donghai Farm

Tel: 5829-1816, 5829-1801, 5829-5858

Admission: 80 yuan for the flower show, 100 yuan (including the Barbie doll exhibition)

For more information, check out

How to get there

By public transport

1. Take shuttle bus between the Flower Port and the Shanghai Tourist Transport Center during the festival.

2. Take Metro Line 2, get off at the Longyang Road Station and change to the bus Longdong Line.

3. Take Metro Line 2, get off at the Zhangjiang High-Tech Park Station, take the bus Zhangnan Line to the Nanhui Bus Transport Center and change to the bus Nansan Line.

By car

1. A20 - A30 (Donghai Bridge) - Dongda Road (Lingang New City) - Lianggang Road - Sansan Road.

2. A20 - A2 (Donghai Bridge) - Daye Road - Lianggang Road - Sansan Road

It's easy to be a day tripper in Nanhui

Recommended routes for day trippers making an excursion to Nanhui District for the flower festival.

One-day trips

Route 1

Morning: Nanhui Peach Blossom Village. Fishing, barbecue, tasting local specialties in farmers' homes, watching folk performances like tight-rope walking and piglet racing.

Afternoon: Shanghai Wild Animal Park, which keeps many rare species. Lion and tiger shows.

Route 2

Morning: Datuan Town Peach Garden. Farming, fishing, feeding animals and preparing local food.

Afternoon: Duoli Agricultural and Ecological Park to play at being a farmer. China East Sea Bridge and Yangshan Deep-water Port for fresh seafood. Dishui Lake in Lingang New City.

Route 3

Morning: Binhai Peach Garden. Folk art demonstrations by elderly farmer artists.

Afternoon: Nanhui Zuiguanhai Park and Binhai Forest Park.

Route 4

Morning: Shanghai Flower Port to see the tulip fields. Shuyuan Village for lunch on the farm.

Afternoon: China East Sea Bridge, Yangshan Deep-water Port, Dishui Lake.

Two-day trips

Route 1

Day 1: Binhai Peach Garden. Horseback riding in Golden Seashore Holiday Village. Kart racing in the Binhai Resort. Golf at Binhai Golf Course. Stroll in the Binhai Forest Park.

Accommodation: Golden Seashore Holiday Village or Jinjiang Inn in Lingang New City.

Day 2: Sunrise at the seaside. Tulip show in the Shanghai Flower Port. Farming in Shuyuan Village. Dishui Lake, China East Sea Bridge and the Yangshan Deep-water Port.

Route 2

Day 1: Shanghai Wild Animal Park. Nanhui Peach Blossom Village in Huinan Town.

Day 2: Shanghai Flower Port. Shuyuan Village. Dishui Lake. China East Sea Bridge. Yangshan Deep-water Port.

Datuan Town Peach Garden

Opening hours: 8am-5pm

Address: 888 Zhaoqiao Village, Datuan Town

Tel: 5808-3333

Tickets: 30 yuan

Nanhui Peach Blossom Village

Opening hours: 8am-5pm

Address: 289 Beimen Rd, Huinan Town

Tel: 5800-0521

Tickets: 53 yuan

Binhai Peach Garden

Opening hours: 8am-4:30pm

Address: 3 Tongyuan Rd, Binhai Resort

Tel: 5805-8125, 5805-8281

Admission: 36 yuan

Xinchang Peach Garden

Opening hours: 9am-4pm

Address: Guoyuan Village, Xinchang Town

Tel: 5817-0652, 5817-0656

Admission: 30 yuan

Tulip Show in the Flower Port

Opening hours: 8am-5pm, starting today

Address: Southern end of Zhengdong Rd S., Donghai Farm

Tel: 5829-1816, 5829-1801, 5829-5858

Admission: 80 yuan


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