January 4, Beijing: For anyone who has ever dreamed of living in an ice castle, The 35th Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is here. Set in Heilongjiang Province in northern China, it's the world's biggest snow and ice festival and features plenty of spectacular installations and activities. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people head to Northeast China to revel in the cold or a cold-weather spectacle, one might say.
The 35th Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, which will officially open on Saturday, invites visitors to walk in and around hundreds of ice castles and monuments lit up in rainbow colours, while temperatures at night often drop below zero.
The annual festival officially runs from January 5 to February 5 but some attractions are open to visitors before the opening ceremony, including the most popular “the Harbin Ice and Snow World” which is made with ice blocks pulled from the nearby Songhua River. The party will last for two months hoping an early spring won’t turn the sculptures into slush.
This year’s chilly celebration started with the Ice Lantern Garden Party, during which local artists displayed lanterns out of hollowed-out ice blocks. In addition to walking up the gigantic illuminated ice castles, other highlights include an exquisite snow Buddha statue, a 3D light show and the 340 meter long Northern Lights themed ice slides.
Another highlight will be the display of works done by sculptors from 12 different countries who participated in the annual International Snow Sculpture Championship which was held from December 31.
This year, the Harbin Ice and Snow World spans over 600,000 square meters and includes more than 100 landmarks. It's made of 110,000 cubic meters of ice and 120,000 cubic meters of snow.
Harbin Festival, celebrating its 35th year in 2019, is now considered one of the world's biggest snow and ice festival, joining the ranks of the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan, Canada's Quebec Winter Carnival and Norway's Holmenkollen Ski Festival.