The mainland's Labour Day holiday is traditionally a celebration of the social and economic achievements of the international labour movement. But for the 80,000 young Chinese rock fans expected to flock to Beijing's Midi Music Festival over the next four days, the holiday is all about a more traditional pursuit: fun and dancing. Today marks the start of the eighth annual Midi Music Festival - China's largest alternative music event - which will feature dozens of bands and DJs on five separate stages in northwest Beijing's Haidian Park. For many rock fans around the country, the festival has become a symbol of Beijing's alternative youth culture - or 'China's Woodstock', as some have labelled it. 'Midi is where young people who love life and freedom go. It gives people from all over the country a window into Beijing's rock and electronic music culture,' said Li Jingya, a 24-year-old Beijing fashion stylist. With its emphasis on live music and alternative youth culture, Midi attracts very different fans - punks, metalheads, clubbers, slackers - from the bubble-gum pop concerts favoured by the broadcasters at Central China Television. 'The Midi festival feels much less fabricated than mainstream Chinese music and youth culture, which mainly comes out of the cookie-cutter, sugar-coated pop scenes in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea. Midi has a grassroots, DIY vibe,' said Nathaniel Davis, a Beijing rock promoter. 'Midi is a spiritual thing. It's against mass culture. It's against tradition. It's against the mainstream. It's about the younger generation enjoying music and freedom, and having the right attitude,' said festival organiser Zhong Sheng. The festival began life in 2000 as a free concert for the students of the Midi School of Music - China's first and only school specialising in teaching rock music - and is still run by the school's head. Half of the local bands who performed last year were Midi School graduates. Having already outgrown several venues, Midi is trying to stay true to its roots. 'It really is the only organised festival for Chinese youth in all of China, and it's affordable for everyone,' said Mr Davis. A ticket to all four days of the festival costs just 100 yuan. Aside from well-known local bands, such as Voodoo Kungfu, AK47, Subs, Reflector, Muma and Second Hand Rose, this year's festival also features 20 international acts.