Music festivals energize China’s tourism industry


By Cao Ruitong

A new form of tourism with music festivals at its core is now in vogue among young Chinese. Music festivals are becoming signatures of more and more Chinese cities, as many of them have been brought from first-tier cities to lower-tier ones, and even remote regions.

During this year’s May Day holiday, which lasted five days from the start of May, Xiao Ye, 26, went to the Midou Music Festival held in Nanjing, east China’s Jiangsu province, together with his friends.

The man has attended music festivals in many cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Kunming, and that’s how he spends his holidays.

This time in Nanjing, Xiao spent the first day enjoying the music festival and the rest four visiting tourist attractions in the city, which enabled him to get the joy from both music and traveling.

According to statistics, during the May Day holiday this year, some 40 music festivals were held across the country, which draw millions of music fans. Hotel rooms around the sites where music festivals were held were booked up. Music festival-led tourism is becoming a new choice for young consumers.

Statistics from the China Association of Performing Arts indicated that during the May Day holiday, more than 50 percent of music festivals ticket buyers were from outside the host cities. The consumption in transportation, accommodations, dining and other businesses related to the music festivals held during the same period surpassed 1.2 billion yuan ($170 million). These music events not only satisfied music lovers, but also boosted the tourism and popularity of host cities.

Urban music festivals have achieved remarkable progress in China in the past more than 20 years since the first Midi Music Festival was held in Beijing in 2000.

Today, there are a great number of renowned music events in the country, including the Strawberry Music Festival, the Xihu Music Festival, the Modern Sky Festival, the Beijing Music Festival, the Sun Music Festival, and the Qintai Music Festival. Similar events are just popping up across China and participated by many music fans.

These music festivals are about not only pop music, but also traditional folk music, symphony and musical play. Combining traditional and modern elements, as well as Chinese and international features, they are building a splendid music festival culture that suits everybody.

Music festivals are closely related to tourism development. Many cities, relying on music festivals and urban tourism resources, have built new business forms that feature the mix of music and tourism.

In 2009, the first Sun Music Festival opened in Zhangbei county, north China’s Hebei province. Ever since, the county has been visited by hundreds of thousands of music lovers every year, and the music festival has become one of the largest and the most internationalized music festivals in China.

Tourism authorities in the county tailored seven tourism routes based on the music event, which greatly boosted local tourism and created huge economic benefits for the county.

As Zhejiang province in east China has been building a water tourism route, a recently held music festivalset its stages at the core area of the route. According to a source with knowledge, the site of the music festival was divided into performance area, dining area and market area. Intangible cultural heritage and cultural products displayed at the event attracted many visitors, and the music festival triggered a boom in the consumption of accommodation, food and tourism programs.

During the May Day holiday, the 2023 Huang Bo Hai Midi Festival kicked off in Yantai, east China’s Shandong province, which attracted 100,000 music lovers to the city. Yantai has launched a number of measures to drive its tourism development with the popularity of the music event. For instance, those with the ticket to the music festival could get tickets to six local tourist sites for free. Besides, the city also issued a travel guide and launched 11 free bus routes.

An insider noted that music festivals are no longer just entertainment, but integrating with leisure tourism. As the scale of young tourists expands and tourism demands diversify, combining music festivals with local tourism resources, which highlights individuation and differentiation, would help build iconic tourism brands.