Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival
Photo: harbinice.com
The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, also known simply as the Harbin Ice Festival, is the world’s largest ice and snow festival. It is held in the city of Harbin, China. Located in the northeastern part of the country, Harbin receives cold winter winds from Siberia which makes it the perfect place for the annual winter festival.

In 1963 Harbin started hosting a traditional ice lantern show every winter. The event was discontinued for several years during the Cultural Revolution which lasted from 1966 until 1976. It was officially relaunched in 1985 as the Harbin Ice Festival. In 2001, it was merged with the International Ski Festival and got its current name.

Over the years, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival has become a world-renowned event. Each year it attracts more than 10,000 sculptors from all over the world. The festival officially opens on January 5, but sculptors start arriving in Harbin on December 15 to begin creating their sculptures. Ice blocks are taken from the frozen surface of the Songhua River. Sometimes deionized water is used to produce transparent ice blocks rather than translucent ones. Ice sculptors use ice picks, chisels and various types of saws to carve out their masterpieces.

Officially, the Harbin Ice Festival opens on January 5 and runs through late February. Weather permitting, many sculptures and installations open earlier and stay longer to local residents and tourists’ delight.

The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is a truly spectacular event. While ice sculptures can be found throughout the city, the festival has several main exhibition areas (theme parks) which attract most visitors. Note that you have to buy different tickets to enter different venues, there is no single ticket to all theme parks.

Some ice sculptures made for previous festivals include monuments and buildings of different architectural styles, figures of people, animals and mythical creatures, ice lanterns, and ice slides. At night, the sculptures are illuminated with multicolored lights, looking even more breathtaking.

Along with the expo of gigantic ice and snow sculptures, the festival program features a wide range of activities including alpine skiing, an ice lantern exhibition, various fairs, games and competitions, winter swimming, winter fishing, concerts, fashion shows, firework displays, dog sledding, art exhibitions, carnivals, performances, and even group wedding ceremonies on ice.

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

Photo by Morgann




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