China’s northeastern city of Harbin is the home to one of the most impressive snow and ice sculpture festivals in the World. This frigid and frosty city drew more than one million visitors last year who all came to witness the exhibitions of some incredible ice sculptors who create some of the most stunning exhibitions of snow and ice that you are ever likely to see. The size, intricate nature and creativity that goes into each of the sculpture simply needs to be seen to be believed and here we give you a run down of what you can expect on a trip to Harbin’s Snow and Ice Festival.
Officially speaking, the festival begins on the 5th of January and lasts for a month, with that being said, it is worth noting that weather permitting, the festival begins early and finishes later than the advised dates.
Within the city of Harbin, you will find displays and sculptures throughout the city but there are two main exhibition areas where you will be able to find the main events. The first exhibition location is Sun Island, this exhibition is on the other side of the Songhua River from the city and is where you will find some enormous and gargantuan sculptures.
The other exhibition location is Ice and Snow World which is a nighttime space where you can be struck in awe by illuminated and full sized buildings which have been built entirely from snow and ice.
What Can You Expect?
Other than stunning sculptures of buildings, famous landmarks and cartoon characters, you will see a whole city which is dominated by the festival, regular lantern processions, ice skating activities, ice shows, skiing and even winter swimming are all features of this festival.
As you might imagine, you can also expect very cold temperatures as this area of China receives its temperatures from Siberia, lows of -30 degrees are the norm around this time of year.
What’s it About?
The festival does not have any deep religious or culture connotations, it is more of a why not festival and it has been around since 1963. The sculptors used to be only Chinese but in recent years the festival has international status and as such it attracts master sculptors from all over the World.
How Do They Make The Sculptures?
The ice is dragged from the frozen Songhua River by huge teams with very big saws, the sculptors then use a huge range of tools to sculpt the blocks of ice into incredibly fine pieces of art in the days running up to the festival. The sculptors also utilize deionized water which is frozen and produces crystal clear glass-like ice which adds an incredible element to their creations. To add color to proceedings, artists will add a serious of multicolored lights behind their creations to give the incredible detail to their work.
This festival will leave you completely awe-struck and possible with a little frostbite but you will never see anything else like it on the planet.