When the bitter winds of winter are ushered in, most of the world goes to sleep but in Harbin City, China, the landscape comes to life. Each year, it hosts one of the most extravagant winter festivals in the world, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival.
With every year that comes and goes, sculptures get more resplendent, and the festivities get grander. Harbin remains relatively cold throughout the year but in winter, temperatures can dip to subzero levels. The temperature averages at -24 °C at night while the temperature in the day averages at -13 °C. Because of the extreme cold, ice is easily obtained from the frozen surface of the Songhua river.
When did it begin?
Sawn, shaped and stacked, blocks of ice turn into majestic displays in the hands of sculptors who work day and night in preparation of the festival.
The festival started in 1963 as a part of Harbin’s traditional ice lantern show and garden party. It grew larger before being shut down until 1985. After its reopening, the festival gain massive popularity amongst both locals and foreigners who come down each year to compete in the festivities.
While the ice sculptures are mesmerizing alone, there is more to witness. There are massive statues, ice slides, intricately designed castles to walk through and a riveting winter swimming competition.
When the night sky sets in, get ready for a spectacular light show.
Castles are lit up in a kaleidoscope of colours and come to life. The entire experience promises to make up for the teeth-chattering and biting cold! Tickets for the festival are priced at 240 Yuan (35 USD) for adults and 120 Yuan (17.50 USD) for children.
To find out details about the festival and other activities to do in Harbin click here! From Siberian Tigers to homestays, the festival offers so much more beyond ice and snow.
*This post is not sponsored by any of the parties mentioned above.