Thousands of music fans descended on Fuxin in Northeast China's Liaoning province on Saturday for a music festival in an ecologically restored open-cast mine.
It was the Strawberry Music Festival's first visit to Fuxin since it was first launched in 2009. It was also a fine opportunity to show off the versatility of the former coal mine, which once provided jobs to the local population.
The festival attracted an audience of nearly 20,000 people, with tickets sold out ahead of time, according to Modern Sky, a music company sponsoring the two-day event.
"I have never seen so many people swarming my hometown before," says Zhang Hao, a 34-year-old restaurateur who booked a booth near the entrance to sell inflatable sofas, straw hats and drinks.
The abandoned industrial site provided a spacious location for the music event. After years of ecological restoration, the open-cast mine, measuring more than eight soccer fields, was turned into a racetrack for top-level motor sports events, and it will soon host a military-themed carnival.
Wu Qiuqiu, a 32-year-old music enthusiast who attends music festivals all over the country, says he was impressed by the venue.
"The surrounding cliffs enhanced the echo effect, and we've had some good vibes," he says.
Fuxin has a long history of coal mining dating to 1898. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, it served as one of the country's main sources of coal for industrial use.
Later, environmental pollution and resource depletion saw the mine closed. In 2001, Fuxin was listed as China's first resource-exhausted city to undergo transformation as part of a pilot program.
The local government had been seeking new ways to rejuvenate the old mines. In 2018, Zhongke Shenglian, a Beijing-based environmental technology company, formulated a plan regarding the mine's renovation at the government's request and proposed the racetrack project.
The environment around Fuxin has improved and the motor sports industry is thriving too, with various tournaments having attracted over 300,000 spectators in total.
In April, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment approved 36 pilot projects nationwide for ecological protection-oriented development, with Fuxin's mine renovation included.
Attending the music festival with her husband and her 5-year-old child, a local woman surnamed Li says she was "very delighted" with the mine's transformation into a location for popular events.
"These emerging events are lighting up the future of my hometown," she says.