Imagine you are enjoying folk music at a pub in London, but the next second you find yourself in a bar in bustling New York, and then in the blink of an eye, the iconic "Qingdao 'ganbei' with the world "statue pops up, only to remind you that it's just a live show at a beer festival and you are sitting before a computer screen.
Livestreaming and short videos are being used for the first time in this year's Qingdao Beer Festival, with interactions involving famous bars in 17 domestic cities and 12 cities overseas including Russia, the United Kingdom and Portugal.
"With the accelerated pace of life and also the COVID-19 epidemic, large-scale festivals like the Qingdao International Beer Festival are facing more challenges for how visitors can fulfill an on-site experience," said Chen Wei from Ningbo, Zhejiang province, a big fan of the Qingdao beer festival who has visited the event several times.
"A 'beer festival on the cloud' is undoubtedly a brand-new experience," Chen told China Daily on Monday.
"Through the mobile phone screen, you can not only learn about local specialties and the beer of Qingdao, but also watch original performances from artists from all over the world," Chen added. "It's innovative and progressive."
Nearly 1.4 million people took part in the online gala of the 32nd Qingdao International Beer Festival, which kicked off on July 22 and lasted 10 days.
The innovation set a new example for the digitization of the cultural and tourism business, said officials from Qingdao West Coast New Area, Shandong province.
According to Liu Shuwu, Party secretary and chairman of Qingdao-based Huangfa Group, one of the operators of the beer festival, this year's online beer festival has cooperated with major digital companies and e-commerce platforms such as Taobao and JD.
There are more than 100 kinds of beer festival-themed derivatives and Qingdao local specialties being sold online, including 12,000 themed digital collections, which were all snapped up in a few seconds.
Although all events of the festival were held online this year, the Golden Beach Beer City－the main venue of the annual beer festival and the world's largest beer-themed square－has remained in operation as usual, allowing visitors to enjoy international cuisine and more than 100 kinds of beers.
Digital renminbi coupons for the Golden Beach Beer City worth more than 8 million yuan ($1.2 million) were issued, leading to a total shopping expenditure of 30 million yuan.
"The beer festival never truly ends. It has become a symbol of the openness and vitality of the city, and part of local people's lifestyle," said Cui Xijun, a senior official in charge of organizing the beer festival.
Business negotiations for about 65 major projects in the new area were also organized during the festival.
"A successful event can invigorate a city," said Dong Huafeng, director of the tourism bureau of the Qingdao West Coast New Area.
"Taking advantage of its beer culture, Qingdao has been exploring new models of tourism and cultural business, creating new consumption norms, and building a consumption scenario that comprises culture, tourism and people-to-people exchanges, to enhance the city's competitiveness and attractiveness."