Another festival season is upon us in China. That magical time of year when you and your crew head to a site slightly outside of the city center to drink beer and/or baijiu that you snuck in, dance in the grass, and complain about the lineup. 2014 has more festivals than ever, including some with really decent bookings. Here's our guide to what we know so far. Go ahead and bookmark this page because we'll keep it updated all year.
Shanghai International Beer Festival
What It Is: Beer, food, and music all weekend. The organizers boast "beer brands from over 24 countries, food vendors representing more than 15 countries, and more than a dozen DJs." The last two festivals proved to be a pretty good, sloppy, drunken good time. And this one goes pretty late, too, because there are no residences nearby, which is always a nice plus.
Highlights: Craft beer, lots of it. Music by DJs Caution, Skinny Brown, and Choyce Kutz.
Location/Transport: This happens down on the South Bund, near The Cool Docks. It's not super close to any metro station, but you could take Line 10 to Yu Garden then walk about 15–20 minutes. If you live in Pudong, you have the luxury of taking the Shanghai Ferry from Lujiazui pretty much right to the festival site, for 2rmb.
Times: Friday 6pm–midnight; Saturday 2pm–midnight; Sunday 2–11pm. We've heard rumors that they'll stop letting people in after 6pm on the weekend so get down early.
Tickets: Admission is 50rmb per person, and that gets you a free Stella upon entry. But only suckers pay that. Mark our words: free passes are already in heavy circulation around town. Just hit up your local watering hole. There is probably a stack of them at the door or some dude passing them out.
After-Party Nothing official. Guessing a lot of people will pass out early after this one.
What It Is: China's oldest music festival returns to Pudong this spring. It goes all weekend and gets pretty messy. They used to do this in Century Park but they moved to an area about 10km north of the airport for 2014.
Highlights: For bands, you've got Xi'an nu-metal band Twisted Machine, Shanghai's Duck Fight Goose, Friend or Foe, Chaos Mind, The Subs, Queen Sea Big Shark, plus a bunch more. Over on the electronic stage, there's like 8,800 DJs and crews playing all weekend, including Hip Hop Hijack, Acid Pony Club, Lose Your Face, Love Bang, and Rankadank.
Location/Transport: Somewhere called Sanjiagang, out by the airport. There's buses going out there organized by The Mansion. Or you could just take Line 2 all the way to the airport or the stop before and then take a cab. That'll probably take at least 90 minutes.
Times: This one goes 24 hours a day this year, with camping for up to 5,000 people out on this giant site. Bonus fact: It's free to get in between 10pm and 10am.
Tickets: It's 150rmb per day or 350rmb for the whole weekend. If you wanna save a few kuai, you can get presale tickets here, but presales are only 30–50rmb cheaper than the door price. There's no way this will sell out.
After-Party The electronic stage goes all night long, so there you go - after-party at the actual party.
What It Is: Beijing record label Modern Sky's annual festival that happens in Beijing, Shanghai, and like seven other cities this year. Great music lineup and generally well organized and clean. Pretty family friendly, this one.
Highlights: For music, this looks to have the best lineup this Spring. They've got French electro duo Justice, Scandinavian metal band HIM, post-rock wizards Explosions In The Sky, LA bassline king AC Slater, and HK pop princess Maggie Cheung, plus several other bands like Hedgehog, Re-TROS, and New Pants, and DJs like Conrank and Ben Huang. Sounding really good, this one.
Location/Transport: Our favorite festival location – the lush expo garden out in Haibaoland near the Mercedes Benz Arena. You can take metro Line 8 to the China Art Museum station and walk five minutes. A cab from the city center will probably cost 40–70rmb.
Times: This happens during the May holiday, with the festival going down Thursday–Saturday from 1:00pm–9:30pm
Tickets: Door tickets will cost you 260rmb per day or 680rmb for a three-day pass. We'll have tickets available for slightly cheaper on SmartTicket later this week so stay tuned.
After-Party: TICT is organizing the afterparty at Arkham, as part of a bigger party called Rainbow Disco Club. They've got AC Slater, Ben UFO, Pearson Sound, Prins Thomas, and Pangaea along with several local DJs. Should be massive. More info on that here.
What It Is: This collaboration between CityMoments and Collective Concepts promises to be "China's first large-scale indoor electronic music festival." It's mostly EDM and electronic music from peeps like Señor Spenny, and they've also got one of China's best bands, Nova Heart, headlining.
Highlights: Beijing new-wave band Nova Heart, DJ Falcon, Conrank. They'll also have a second floor set up "Boiler Room Style" with local DJs playing.
Location/Transport: Pretty easy to reach, this one. Even been to the visa office in Pudong, aka Hell? This is right next door to that. Take Line 2 to the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum station, dodge the "bag/watch/dvd" Ayis, and walk about ten minutes to the festival site.
Times: The one-day festival goes from 4pm–1am.
Tickets: We'll have tickets for sale on SmartTicket right here pretty soon. Presale tix will run you 250rmb, or you can pay 400rmb at the door.
After-Party: One party announced at M18, with others in the works. More info as we get it.
Sinan Mansions Beer Festival
What It Is: We get a nice one-two punch with the beer fests this spring. Scarcely six weeks after the festival at the wharf comes the third annual Sinan Mansions Beer Festival. Unlike April's festival, this one puts more emphasis on craft beers and local artisanship. Brewers from Beijing like Slow Boat and Jing-A will be pouring their brews. Nøgne Ø, the brewery we wrote about here last year will have a tent. Boxing Cat Brewery, the organizers of the event, will also be unveiling two beers that have been aged in barrels for a year. In addition, restaurants like Maya, Goga and Madison will be serving loads beer-friendly eats.
Highlights: Local craft beer, local bands, local DJs.
Location/Transport: Centrally located in Sinan Mansions, you can get here by taking metro Line 10 to Xintiandi and walking about fifteen minutes, or just take a cheap cab.
Times: Goes from noon until at least 10pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets: Nope. Not necessary. Just show up and buy some beer.
After-Party: Not sure yet. More info as we get it.
What It Is: We're going on six years of Pride in 2014. Loads of events and activities are in store for this year's festival. Lots of open panel discussions and NGO workshops, film screenings and even a Chinese LGBT short film competition (they're accepting submissions right now). Additionally, there were will be a few stage productions of plays like Rendezvous and Gay Husband, Straight Wife, a Chinese play by This Love Drama Club. M50 will host some LGBT-themed exhibits. And there will also be a Pride Run/Walk that culminates in a "Pink Picnic". The schedule is still in a state of flux, but keep checking back to this page as we get closer to the start date.
Highlights: Too early to tell now, but stay tuned.
Location/Transport: Various locations - stay tuned.
Times: Various times - stay tuned.
Tickets: This is more of an umbrella festival, so you'll have to buy tickets to individual events.
After-Party: Not sure yet but there was a massive closing party last year that drew over 2,000 people. More info about that as we get it.
What It Is: This one is still unconfirmed, but there's several people working on this Burning Man affiliated festival happen sometime in early June, including some heads that were at the original Burning Man.
Highlights: DJs and artists on a site far from the city.
Location/Transport: This will happen far away from civilization, but rest assured that if this actually goes down, a fleet of buses will take you there.
Times: Too early to tell, but probably gonna rage all weekend or longer.
Tickets: Not sure. Stay tuned.
After Party: Stay tuned.
What It Is: Big budget electronic music festival down on the southside, put on by A2 Live. They've got three stages this year and an even bigger space. Expect massive soundsystems, seizure-inducing visuals, and lots of EDMz. Last year they had only international acts and DJs but hopefully that will change this year. They've started a nationwide campaign to get people from all over the PRC into Shanghai for this one, in hopes that it becomes something like China's Ultra or Electric Daisy Carnival.
Highlights: Lineup TBA.
Location/Transport: This is one thing we do know about Storm 2014. The festival happens in Southeast Puxi, right by the water. You can take Line 7 to Longhua Zhong Lu station and walk like ten minutes.
Times: Not sure yet.
Tickets: Not announced yet, but tickets were 680rmb per day last year.
After Party: Too early to tell.
What It Is: This happens out in the beautiful Expo Park every fall just before the cold hits. They get a huge lineup of international jazz acts as well as some DJs and bands. Last year they had The Robert Glasper Project feat. Mos Def. They even have a music tent where anyone can just jam out on some instruments. Good vibes. It's also the chillest and most family-friendly festival in Shanghai.
Highlights: Lineup TBA
Location/Transport: Same as Strawberry Festival, this one happens over in the Expo Park. Same deal - take Line 8 to the China Art Museum station and walk five minutes. Cabs should cost 40–70rmb depending on where you live.
Times: Not announced yet but this generally goes from noon–10pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets: Still unannounced but last year this cost 250rmb per day at the door.
After Party: Too early to tell. Stay tuned.
Go-ahead and bookmark this page - we'll continue to update this whenever we get new info about festivals this year. And feel free to drop some comments about these festivals if you've been before.