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Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

Have you ever wondered what a city made of ice would look like? Now you don’t have to wonder: the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival brings artists from all over the world to create an amazing snowscape filled with castles, towers, giant ice sculptures, bridges, and so much more! To add to the incredible natural beauty of the ice and snow, the creations often light up with brilliant colors.

Four artists working on an ice sculpture at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

Artists work long hours to get their creations perfect. Over 600 artists come to Harbin, China to participate in the festival.

Officially, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival begins on January 5th and lasts for one month.

Lit up ice sculpture at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

However, exhibits often stay open before and after the official times, as long as the weather cooperates. And why not? We think it’d be marvelous if the sculptures stayed up all year round, they’re so beautiful!

While ice sculptures decorate the entire city, there are four main exhibition areas. Sun Island hosts enormous snow sculptures, and the spectacular Ice and Snow World is an area open at night which has illuminated full-sized buildings made from blocks of 2–3 feet thick ice taken directly from the Songhua River. Songhua River Ice and Snow Harbin Valley is full of daytime snow sports and adventures, and Zhaolin Park Ice Lantern Fair has many interactive exhibits.

A full size building made out of ice and illuminated at the Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

Every year, a new theme is introduced to inspire the artists. This year’s theme (it’s the festival’s 32nd year) was “Pearl on the Crown of Ice and Snow.”

Winter activities during the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival include Yabuli alpine skiing and even winter swimming in the Songhua River. Brrr!!

For more photos of this stunningly beautiful ice festival, see the Boston Globe’s Big Picture, which has covered a few years’ worth of the Harbin Ice Festival.

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