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Harbin Snow and Ice Festival: A Winter's Tale in the City Center


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Harbin Snow and Ice Festival: A Winter's Tale in the City Center


In the northeast of China, there is a province with a rich history. Nowadays Harbin - the center of Heilongjiang province - amazes tourists with its picturesque nature, unique architectural combinations and styles. In addition to the classical Chinese style, there are also many buildings with motifs of Russian and Japanese culture.On the streets of the city you can find Catholic shrines, Orthodox cells, mosques and Protestant churches. But amazing sights and identity are not the only things that attract tourists to the city. It hosts one of the world's four largest snow and ice festivals and is a magnet for visitors to the city during the winter months.

The history of the emergence of a national tradition

The first festival was held in 1963, but traditionally it became annual only 20 years later - since 1985. In the early years, the event was exclusively attended by residents of the country, but soon it became international, attracting foreign guests and giving Harbin great fame and popularity among tourists.

At the turn of the century, the snow and ice festival was combined with an international skiing competition, and in 2014 the tradition celebrated its 30th anniversary.
The place for the competition was not chosen by chance: the weather conditions are ideal for the event - there are winters when the negative temperature reaches 37 degrees Celsius.

Where to go and what to see?

The International Harbin Snow and Ice Festival traditionally begins on January 5 and lasts for a month, but at the end of the term, the remaining figures are not destroyed, but left to stand further. During the competition, the city turns into a unique ice work of art, but the main installation site is a recreation park located on the Songhuajiang River, and a separate complex "World of Ice and Snow", open to visitors at any time of the day.

The festival program is varied and includes:

  • Skiing and snowboarding, extreme descents and amateur trails in the Yabuli complex
  • Swimming in the icy Songhua River
  • Exhibition of sculptures and lanterns made of ice and decorated with laser lights and projections
  • Various concert programs and entertaining winter shows for adults and children.

Construction of sculptures

The Snow and Ice Festival is not the only one of its kind, but it is considered the largest. In 2007, one of the erected ice sculptures entered the Guinness Book of Records with the title of the largest: its length exceeded 250 meters, and it went 8.5 meters in height. The whole structure consisted of 13 thousand cubic meters of ice and snow.

The craftsmen take the material for constructing the compositions from the nearby Songhuajiang River, lifting blocks of ice to the surface. In processing, many tools are used: saws, chisels and ice axes, with which sculptors give shape and size to their work. Many masters work on several sculptures at the same time, spending days at work before the start of the festival, working day and night.

All figures are unique, and special magic is given to them by the beams and spotlights illuminating them, creating the feeling of a fairy tale and a magic show. Popular motives for work are animals, buildings, mythical creatures and, of course, ice slides - a favorite pastime for both adults and children.

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