2010 Oct 11 Celebrate Nanluogu Xiang! Annual Festival Returns
It’s that time of year again. The temperature’s dropping, the leaves are falling and winter is just over the horizon. Which means it’s also time for the annual Nanlougu Xiang festival! Now in its fourth year, the festival will be a two-day affair next weekend (October 16 and 17), and promises a flea market, bands, performers, and a chance to enjoy a car-free Nanluogu Xiang! We got the rundown from festival planner and Plastered-8 owner Dominic Johnson-Hill on what we can expect.
For people who have never been to the Nanluogu Xiang Festival, what can they expect?
Nanluogu Xiang is a hutong with limited space so it still retains a quaint, community element. We’ll have a flea market with traditional Chinese products for sale, products produced by local residents, and some stalls you might expect to see at a temple fair. This part is organized by the local government.
We also have a creative fair which is part of the iMart creative fair that runs all over China. It's made up of young creative types who have a product but nowhere to sell it. Last year we had students who had produced creative key chains, badges, clothing, and stuffed toys.
Then there is the stage which will be located alongside the creative flea market in a space on Qianlao Hutong just off Nanluogu Xiang.
Although this is a local community festival, expect tons of people – last year we had over 80,000! It doesn't feel crowded though, as it is over two days.
What keeps people coming back year after year?
People love Nanluogu Xiang – there is nowhere else like it in Beijing or China. It’s a living hutong made up of great shops, cafes, etc and residents who love their hutong and have lived here for years. The festival maintains its original feel – it’s a local festival celebrating the creativity of the community.
What bands will be playing?
This year we’ve got a lot of foreign bands mixed in with the Chinese acts to give it a truly international feel.
How many years have you been organizing this festival? How did you get started?
This is the fourth festival I have been involved in. I conceptualized the first one in 2007 after seeing the residence committee hold a small event on the hutong in 2006. I thought it could be bigger and more relevant to the area, with more creative activities and performances.
How has Nanluogu Xiang changed over the years?
We’ve lived here since 2003 and we started Plastered 8 on Nanluogu Xiang in early 2006. Then we were pretty much the only ones here – we often ate on the street outside our home and there was only the rare passer-by. Now it’s a bustling street, known internationally, and will soon have its own subway station. The hutongs running off Nanluogu Xiang are starting to boom too and there is plenty of room for more growth. In coming years I think Nanluogu Xiang will be one attraction of many in this area.
What are your favorite places on the street? Any hidden gems?
Hmm.... there are so many great businesses! The ones that stand out for me are those that brought something new to the street. My favs are Bye Bye Disco, Salud, San Ke Shu and Saveurs de Corée.
Will we have to dodge those pesky cars during the festival?
Ha ha – no, it will be a pedestrian street during the festival! This is something we have pushed hard for this year, and it’s a step in the right direction. I promised the local government I would streak naked down Nanluogu Xiang the day it is [permanently] made a pedestrian street!
Nanluogu Xiang Festival. October 16-17. 10am-5pm. Nanluoguxiang 南锣鼓巷