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Spring Festival Guide 2016

'Tis the season in Shanghai. Streets of rage and lukewarm Snow beer...
Last updated: 2016-04-06
The usual festivals are back in Shanghai and surrounding environs as we dip into the summer / autumn season for 2016. Here's a list of big-time music events on for the next little while in Shanghai, showcasing, as they are, music in diverse genres, and bands and performers local, national, international, galactic, wherever, whatever.

We'll keep this updated as more details come in. Might be a useful one to bookmark.

Updated on April 28 with beer fests and the cocktail fest, at the bottom.

Update, May 4: The first wave of spring fests has passed. We take a look back at all of that in our article, "(At Least) 5 Lessons From Shanghai's Biggest Festival Weekend.'"

1. Strawberry Festival 2016

April 30-May 2 @ Expo Park

Just the Basics: Strawberry is a big annual indie, electro, and pop music festival organized and hosted by China's biggest independent music label, Beijing's Modern Sky Records. In recent years, they've expanded their brand, stable of acts, and festival banner to organize marque events in America and Europe, and are still pretty much the biggest name in town when it comes to large-scale, multi-day open air music festivals in China. They have two festival brands -- Modern Sky and Strawberry Festival -- both of which have been exported from Beijing to something like twenty cities around China, Shanghai included. The Shanghai edition always happens in the Expo Park during Golden Week, and draws huge, youth-oriented crowds, and represents, as it does, the new face of Chinese popular indie alt music and fashion. They've always got a few big -- but never too big -- international acts, mixed in with bigger domestic bands (generally from the Modern Sky label) and a few crossover acts / pop shits to get more people through the gates. For example, the 2015 iteration included both Dinosaur Jr. and Carly Rae Jepsen. Of course, basically every music festival in China does the same, which is assemble genre-disparate group of acts to appeal to every festival going demographic at once, and sell as many tickets as possible. Makes for eclectic afternoons out in the sun.

Strawberry Festival -- it's a good, if not sterile, time. This year's theme is "The world is virtual, you are the reality." Which is... yeah, sure, whatever.

For a preview of the vibe, check our photo gallery from Strawberry Festival 2015

Noteworthy Acts: Headlining the fest are Disclosure, The Prodigy and Modestep. In addition to that, expect basically every dance / alt Beijing band on the label to factor into the line-up, as well as some local DJs filling out the obligatory electronic stage roster.

Tickets: SmartTicket will have tix from April 8, 2016. Not quite yet, but soon – hold tight.

After-Party: Nothing yet. We're looking in Arkham's direction though, who are frequent collaborators with the Modern Sky brand.

More Info: Modern Sky official website.


2. MIDI Taihu

April 30-May 2 @ Camp MIDI Taihu

Just the Basics: MIDI is China's first, oldest, rawest, most metal-ish rock music festival, although in recent years, the brand's been moving towards more mainstream, popular electronic, and digestible programing. Originating again in Beijing, MIDI has always had a somewhat contentious relationship with the powers that be and last year, both their Shanghai and Beijing events got the axe. Reacting to that, their new home-base has been in Suzhou, in a lake area / janky amusement park outside of the city. Cool place, sketchy rides. You can camp there. Unlike last fall's MIDI, this one is strictly live music (the DJ kids will get their own fest here the following month). This year's theme is "No Drugs We Rock," likely a response to last year's vice bust at the MIDI school in Beijing.

Check out our photos from MIDI Festival Fall 2015

Noteworthy Acts: A mix of harder rock: Protest the Hero, Veil of Maya, Lacuna Coil, Beijing stoner/sludge metal band Never Before, Nova Heart, The Fuzz, and then... Team Ghost, which is a band by a guy who used to be in M83. Okay, sure. Here is the full line-up.

Tickets: Day tix are 150rmb pre-sale or 180rmb at the door; weekend pass is 400rmb pre-sale or 450rmb at the door, available from...

After-Party: Computer says no... But you can camp. With most festivals, visiting bands tend to tack on a few local shows in addition to their main performances at the festivals. More information as we receive it.

More Info: MIDI Official WeChat Account: midimidimidi


3. JZ Spring

Just the Basics: China's jazz empire throws this fest in Jing'an every year, with free performances in Jing'an Park and Jing'an Temple Square, and a series of (not free) concerts at the Shanghai Center Theater. It's like the little brother of their big JZ Festival that happens in Expo Park in October. This one is more locally focused, with mostly JZ artists on the lineup. JZ has been wildly successful with their events for the last several years, attracting top international jazz talent. Even though this is the more scaled back iteration, it's definitively one to check out for fans of jazz, blues, and ethnic sounds.

Noteworthy Acts: For the outdoor shows, expect a few hundred Shanghai and greater-China based musicians. Over at Shanghai Center Theater, on April 30 they have one of China's premier jazz musicians, the trumpeter Li Xiaochuan, accompanied by the JZ Symphony Orchestra, with music arranged and conducted by Grammy Award Winner Gast Waltzing. May 1 is a double header performance from jazz guitarist Rod Harris Jr., performing as the RHJ Trio, joined by vocalist Petra Haden performs with Jesse Harris. The fest ends with Teenage Chinese jazz pianist phenom A Bu and his trio combo, joined by the Eddie Daniels Quartet, a seasoned group of American musicians lead by clarinetist Eddie Daniels.

Tickets: The outdoor events are free, and SmartTicket has you covered for all three shows at the Shanghai Center Thater.

After-Party: JZ has at least four venues in Shanghai -- JZ Club, JZ Latino, Wooden Box, and On Stage -- so expect after-parties at at least some of these.

More Info: Douban


4. Spring Wave Music Festival

Just the Basics: A bit like last year's Simple Life festival, Spring Wave is also a Taiwan import and has been around on the island since 2006. This is their first year in Shanghai, and they're hosting a decent, locally-focused line-up including mainstream pop groups and singers as headliners. According to their press release, the venue is "three times the size of Shanghai Stadium", with a "forest theme" on stage, big plant and animal installments in the main area, a music competition, food zone, and creative market. Sounds slightly infantile and insane; the ideal set-up for what's going to be a massive event featuring Taiwan's most popular acts, S.H.E. and Soda Green. Dishui Lake is a cool area -- check our feature article.

Noteworthy Acts: S.H.E., Tan Weiwei, Escape Plan, Omnipotent Youth Society, Soda Green, and Khalil Fong. The screams will be deafening.

Tickets: Tix for this one are a cool 198rmb for single days, or 360rmb for a two-day pass, available on Damai.

After-Party: Probably not. The kids got curfew. But Dishui Lake is pretty tranquil. Enjoy the stars.

More Info: Damai


5. MYTH Music Festival

May 14-15 @ Expo Park

Just the Basics: EDM has become a thing in China. Enough of one, that the people behind Strawberry Festival are doing their very own EDM fest in Expo Park just two weekends after Strawberry. According to their press release they've got some big names and a big production team, with three stages including one local stage. The theme is "The Sixth Element."

Noteworthy Acts: According to rumors, hearsay, grumblings, and rumblings, the fest *might* include names like Diplo, Knife Party, Goldie, Gesaffelstein, and Joris Voorn -- household names in EDM/dance music proper even for people with just a passing interest. Indeed, MYTH's press release contains pictures of some of these artists, stamped with text that says "No matter what kind of music fan you are, we can satisfy you."


Tickets: TBA

After-Party: These kinds of bookings are Shanghai clubbing's bread and butter. Expect at least a few of the acts to filter out into the city's nightclubs somewhere somehow. Diplo @ Perry's -- you heard it here first.

More Info: Modern Sky official website



Just the Basics: Last Halloween, promo / party crew SHFT pulled in over 2,000 kids to their warehouse rave by the South Railway Station. No small feat, getting all those people all kinds of turnt up to the trap sounds of producer Lex Luger. SHFT are back for another round this spring, going head to head with MYTH Festival. NIGHTSHFT is also happening in Chengdu and Beijing, and SHFT hope this becomes a proper festival over the next few years.

For an taste of the vibes, check our photo gallery from their Halloween rave at the same venue.

Lineup: Headliners are trap producer UZ, rapper OG Maco (the dude who made that "U Guessed It" song), and Chengdu rappers Higher Brothers (海尔兄弟), along with support from Al Rocco & Blow Fever (Busy Gang), DJ Wordy, Conrank, Tsunano, and Love Bang Soundsystem.

Tickets: Tickets are 120rmb pre-sale, or 200rmb at the door.

After-Party: This one will likely go until 4am, so probably no after-party (perhaps Mansion, as the warehouse is on the Westside). They do, however, have several pre-parties, including free shows with Ozzie at LoGO on April 15 and Grandtheft at Le Baron on April 21.

More Info: Best bet is the 1LVSH / SHFT WeChat account: oneloveshanghai


7. Dragon Burn

May 27-29 @ Anji, Zhejiang

Just the Basics: The words "Burning Man Festival" probably conjure up images of pure, uninhibited festival rage and thousands of insane and naked attendees in a desert in Nevada, but this one's the China "Satellite Burn", which is actually a chill, community-driven event with workshops, performances, music, and camping in a beautiful Anji forest. After years of discussion, some architects and Burning Man veterans got together and finally made the first one happen back in 2014. Someone described last fall's sequel as such: "This town is everywhere and nowhere, man." There are a lot of characters. But yeah, it's a celebration of the ethos over the party.

Dragon Burn is strictly "leave no trace" and "no commercial activity." Everything is free (aside from the ticket and tent rental), everyone pitches in, and not even the DJs get paid. This all happens about 4-5 hours outside of Shanghai, via a bus that leaves from The Camel.

Noteworthy Acts: Strictly Shanghai and greater-China based DJs at this one, as there is no budget for bookings.

Tickets: Tix are 250rmb are they're only selling 300 of them. You can get tickets at any of their warm-up events -- look out for some of those in our event listings.

After-Party: This is an all-weekend, all-night kinda party.

More Info: Talk to the dragons.


8. MIDI Electronic

Dates: June 9-11 @ @ Camp MIDI Taihu

Just the Basics: In 2015, event organizers / co-op The Mansion did two festivals at Camp MIDI Taihu -- one by themselves, and one together with the traditional rock MIDI. The latter felt a bit awkward, with most of the crowd turning up to rage to bands like Children of Bodom, and some people there to do the nnssst nssssst dance to tech house in a parking lot. With that, Mansion are on their own this time. If they follow their usual form, they'll have over 100 DJs of varying quality, eight headliners, and some extreme sports. While some might say this is quantity over quality, Mansion are devoted to underground culture in China and this is a purely non-commercial event. Presenting a far-reaching cross-section of who's out there DJing in Shanghai and Beijing, this is one to check out if you're looking to celebrate your local scene(s) and hang with the people who comprise big sections of them. Music is everything electronic / dance.

For a preview of the vibe, check our writeup and photos from the 2015 edition.

Noteworthy Acts: Nothing is confirmed yet so The Mansion declined to discuss bookings.

Tickets: Pre-sale tickets are 300rmb for the weekend, including camping. On-site, tickets are 180rmb for the day or 380rmb for the weekend.

After-Party: The festival grounds have a bunch of old houses that transform into after-party spots all night during the fest. On the final night, there's an after-party at The Mansion.

More Info: The Mansion's WeChat: the-mansion


Update, April 28: And here's your beer and...cocktails festivals.

1. Shanghai Cocktail Festival

April 28-May 2 @ K11 Roof Garden

Update: We went, it wasn't that cool (surprise!). Read all about it.

This one is really last minute but actually looks alright. Basically, you've got bartenders from Shanghai and beyond mixing up drinks and teaching guests how to make them, along with food from Hungry Lungs Kitchen and LA Pho (both solid places). This all happens at K11's sky garden.

Here's some of the bars involved: Barules, Taste Buds, Lavida Club, Constellation, Harley's, JZ Latino, Logan's Punch, My Place Ruin Bar, Tattoo Family, and Tailor Bar. Coming in from out of town are Beckaly Franks from The Pontiac in Hong Kong, Micaela Piccolo from B-28 in Seoul, Jackie Lo from Hong Kong, and Daniel Taytslin from spirits distributor Gotham East.

One-day tickets are 100rmb, including two cocktails and one DIY cocktail OR one snack. Five day tickets, including 10 cocktails (two each day) and five DIY drinks OR five snacks are 380rmb. Event runs 2pm to 10pm each day.

2. The 7th Guozhou Shanghai International Beer Festival

May 6-8 @ Wharf 1846

That big beer festival is back at the South Bund. Organized by alcohol distributor Bevex, they've got three days of beers -- from industrial brews to craft beers -- DJs, performances, F&B, and drunkenness, drunkenness, drunkenness. They have a neon show that starts at 8pm each night. It's pretty busy and pretty mental. Lots of stimulation. Tickets are 50rmb, including a bottle of beer, although you can often find free tickets around town. Times: Friday, 6pm to midnight; Saturday and Sunday, 2pm to midnight.

Check out our photo gallery from last year's edition for a taste of the vibes.

3. Shanghai Beer Festival 2016

Organized by Boxing Cat Brewery and friends, this used to be known as the Sinan Mansions Beer Festival, but they moved to Hongqiao in 2015. It is the chiller, more locally-focused of Shanghai's big two beer fests. Expect a lot of domestic beers from breweries around China and Asia, like Great Leap, Slow Boat, Jing A, Devolution (Dalian), Ok Bar (Wuxi), Pasteur Street (Vietnam), Liquid Laundry, The BREW, Master Gao (Nanjing), and many more. There's also food stalls from local restaurants, a bit of live music, and some DJs.

Actually this is the final event of Shanghai Beer Week, which runs from May 20-29, starting with a drunken cruise down the Huangpu, followed by beer events and talks around town, and then this.

Check out our photo gallery from last year's edition for a taste of the vibes.


Stay safe kids. Don't do the brown acid. Bookmark this and stay tuned for updates.