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Ronan Keating to headline Cherry Blossom Festival

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SHILLONG, Aug 14: Irish singer-songwriter Ronan Keating, who enjoyed worldwide fame as a member of the popular band Boyzone and also had a successful run as a solo artiste, will be the star performer at this year’s Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival to be held from November 17 to 19.
The other international artistes to feature in the festival will be Pink Panda, Jonas Blue, Hybrid Theory and Kenny Musk. Lou Majaw, Snow White, Da Minot, Summersalt will be among local artistes who will perform.
The Cherry Blossom Festival features a variety of sights, activities and art. The event is held during the autumn months when the cherry blossom trees in Meghalaya flower and turn the entire city of Shillong pink, providing a lovely and natural background for anyone wishing to discover modern as well as traditional parts of local culture.
Tourism Minister Paul Lyngdoh told reporters on Monday the main event of the festival will be held in Ri-Bhoi. He said the venue will be announced later.
The festival had to be cancelled last year in view of the Mukroh firing incident. In 2021, the festival recorded a footfall of 45,000 during the three days.
Jason Manner, who is among the organisers, said they had to refund about Rs 1.25 crore to people who purchased tickets that year. He said the organisers suffered a loss of Rs 3.6 crore.
“This year, we are targeting a footfall of over 90,000,” he added.
Two other festivals to be organised prior to Cherry Blossom Festival are Shillong Literary Festival (November 14 to 16) and Megha Kayak Fest (October 12 to 14).
The three-day Megha Kayak Fest, which is an annual whitewater contest, will be held at Umtham village, also known as the Whitewater village of Meghalaya. The event will offer three different types of whitewater races. It will have a total prize money of approximately Rs 16,00,000 for all categories.
Lyngdoh said the state will host the maiden Shillong Blues Festival on January 6 next year. He said it will have a constellation of performers, including Rudy and the Blue Cats, Blue Temptations, White Storm, Kapil Chhetri, Arjun Sen, Rohan Singhal, Ehsaan Noorani and others.
The Minister further said there will be regular shows at U Soso Tham Auditorium and Lariti, erstwhile SICPAC. The decision was made taking note of the demand from visitors.
“I had undertaken another inspection of Lariti last week. We are now ready to open up and start the services and utilize the three theatres we have inside the Centre and the amphitheatre outside. So, there will be regular events beginning next year,” he added.
The other events lined up include Me’Gong Festival, Winter Tales Festival and Meghalaya Grassroots Music Project.
The Me’Gong Festival promotes the culture, uniqueness and lifestyle of the Garos and Garo Hills as a tourism destination. The three-day event showcases the brew varieties from across the region as well as a range of traditional beverages to symbolize the Garos’ cultural identity.
The Shillong’s Winter Tales Festival is one-of-a-kind project, curated by Dakti Crafts, which gives a platform to local talents and entrepreneurs to tell their stories through food, art, craft and music. It also gives an opportunity to people to engage with the local creative communities and take inspiration from their work.
The Meghalaya Grassroots Music Project is aimed at establishing and providing a musical platform to local artistes to enable them hone their talent and carry on their musical legacy, considering changing circumstances and introduction of new musical genres. Shillong is used to be referred to as ‘India’s Rock Capital’ due to the abundance of musical talents here.
The dates of the three festivals will be announced later.
The Tourism Minister said such festivals provide a platform to local musicians who are struggling to make both ends meet due to lack of opportunities.
“We are offering that platform of opportunities. The benefits will go not just to the organizers and the artistes taking part but also many others indirectly,” he said.

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