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From the Bonn District Council: Politicians reject organisers of the cherry blossom festival

From the Bonn District Council : Politicians reject organisers of the cherry blossom festival

The Bonn Cherry Blossom Festival is a tourist magnet and is known far beyond the region. Sandro Heinemann, an organiser from Bonn, has applied to the city for a commercially organised cherry blossom festival. The Bonn district council has now voted against it by a majority.

Sandro Heinemann, an organiser from Bonn, has applied to the city council for a commercially organised cherry blossom festival at Easter next year. He wanted to set up snack stands with regional food, drinks and - on the plateau - a stage programme with local and national artists from Good Friday to Easter Sunday (15 to 17 April 2022) on the adjacent grounds of the Stadthaus on Maxstraße and Weiherstraße and on the Stadthaus plateau itself.

Bonn district council votes against event

However, the Bonn district council voted by a majority against such an event at its most recent meeting on Tuesday evening. The district councillors from the Green Party, the SPD, the Left Party and the Rhine-Green Party argued first and foremost that the well-attended Cherry Blossom is known beyond the city and state borders and that there is no need for further commercialisation. An additional bracket was not necessary, said Rolf Beu (Greens), more "food stalls" would not be an enrichment, said Hanno von Raußendorf (Left). Brigitta Poppe-Reiners (Rheingrün) stressed that further commercialisation would "go beyond the scope". She was alluding to complaints from residents of the old town, who in the past were not always pleased about the lively interest from near and far, especially on Breite Straße and Heerstraße.

In contrast, the CDU, FDP, AfD and district councillor Thomas Fahrenholtz would have been open to Heinemann's plans. Nicole Bonnie (CDU) found that the use of terms such as "food stall" was disrespectful towards the organiser from Bonn. The city centre traders and restaurateurs could also profit from such a festival on the edge of the old town. Elmar Conrads-Hassel (FDP) was not prepared to accept that such a festival would cause the old town to overflow. "The organiser is obviously also interested in drawing tourists away from the event in the centre of the old town." In this way, equalisation would be possible.

The event is not about profits

Organiser Heinemann, who among other things organised the Panama Festival in the Rheinaue and this year the cultural events at the Römerbad, said on Wednesday about the rejection: "As organisers we are strongly anchored in Bonn. I am sure that the Cherry Blossom Festival could be better marketed to tourists and generate added value for the regional economy. After all, Bonn is not only Beethoven, but much more." He also said that it was by no means the case that the organisers could make big profits with such a festival without admission. Heinemann had assumed about 15,000 visitors per day. In his view, the implementation of the submitted concept would have meant only minor restrictions for car traffic on a small section of Maxstraße, and could have meant a somewhat orderly organisation of the usual rush of visitors. The town hall parking garage would have remained accessible.

In its statement on Heinemann's application, the administration had not made a direct recommendation for or against the three-day festival. But a rather negative attitude was certainly recognisable in their comments. During the construction and dismantling work, considerable traffic restrictions were to be expected. A "commercialised festival" would attract more guests. In addition, the local residents had not been involved in the plans. "Similar plans to commercialise the Cherry Blossom Festival have been rejected by the administration or politicians in the past," it said. Four years ago, a new organiser who wanted to play on the Frankenbadplatz with the organiser Jürgen Harder failed, not least due to the resistance of the residents of the old town.

(Original text: Philipp Königs; Translation: Mareike Graepel)