Eat, drink and be merry at Zhangbei
Zhangbei, a county in
Hebei province, is one of the best getaways during summer, offering
cool weather and refreshing air. It is also one of the most accessible
Beijing - only three hours' drive away.
county has a lot to offer - from vast grassland to exotic ethnic
Mongolian culture and a variety of outdoor activities. Plus, it will
host InMusic Festival, one of the country's largest outdoor music
events, from July 27 to 29.
"The grassland and local traditions make In Music Festival stand out
among other outdoor music festivals in China. The festival also promotes
tourism in Zhangbei," says Li Hongjie, the festival's chief planner.
Like many outdoor music festivals in the country, InMusic has invited
established rock musicians including Tang Dynasty, Cui Jian and Wang
Feng to perform their hits.
As Zhangbei is located near Inner
Mongolian autonomous region, Mongolian
folk musicians and dancers will also perform at the festival, adding
exoticism and variety to the outdoor music fiesta.
Folk artists, musicians and dancers from Tibet autonomous region will
also join in the carnival.
Apart from local performers, international bands will share the three
stages of the music festival. And for the very first time, British
group, Spiritualized, will entertain their fans in China.
According to Li, many InMusic performers have asked to stay with local
families rather than at five-star hotels.
"They want to be as close as possible to the grassland, mountains and
nature," Li says.
One of the most popular grasslands, Bashang grassland, has long been
known as one of the ideal sites to escape from the hustle and bustle of
the city. Located 240 km north of Beijing, it covers 350 sq km of Hebei
province. Vast lakes, sunrises and sunsets over the grasslands provide
refreshing views for city dwellers who are tired of urban chaos.
"It's so quiet even during the day that it feels as if nobody lives
there," says Li, recalling how it was when he visited the Bashang
grassland in 2009 to prepare for the first InMusic Festival.
A flea market is a common feature at most outdoor music festivals, and
InMusic Festival is no exception. What makes the flea market in Zhangbei
unique is, along with the latest fashions, there are handicrafts from
local residents, ranging from earrings to purses, bags and handmade
With the green views and cool weather, audiences can take it easy
between shows to participate in traditional Mongolian leisure
activities, such as horseback riding, wrestling, singing and dancing.
Guests must also try Mongolian signature dishes including roast mutton,
oat flour noodle and horse milk, a daily feature of local families.
For visitors who can extend their stay, they should also check out
Zhangbei's many tourist attractions, including Zhongdu Site of Yuan
Dynasty (1271-1368) and the 2,500-year-old Da Qi Stone Pillar Towers.
Mi Jidong, director of Zhangbei's tourism bureau, says the local
government had only two months to prepare for the first InMusic
Despite the lack of facilities and experiences in organizing an outdoor
music festival of that scale, they managed to attract more than 100,000
tourists in 2009.
They made more than 12 million yuan ($1.88 million) during the three-day
This year, organizers expect 200,000 attendees.
With a more attractive lineup and more tourists expected to attend
InMusic Festival, the local government has paved the roads, which were
narrow and bumpy before, and built more hotels and restaurants.
According to Mi, a 90-sq-km grassland has been mapped out as the main
venue for the festival.
The music festival is now a brand name synonymous with the county, Mi
says. He expects the event to continue for more than another decade,
adding that the government has reserved land as big as five times the
current site for future festivals. By Chen Nan
(Source: China Daily, July 20, 2012)