Harbin Ice Header 1St Frame
Noppanan Arunvongse Na Ayudhaya / Getty Images
Noppanan Arunvongse Na Ayudhaya / Getty Images

China’s ice city

Enormous ice castles, giant snow sculptures, fireworks and countless snowmen: the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in China is the world’s largest winter wonderland. Enjoy a close-up look at the festival through a series of spectacular images.

Take a peek

With temperatures that can drop to -35 °C and the nickname ‘Ice City’, it’s not surprising that Harbin, located in northeastern China, organises one of the world’s largest ice and snow shows. The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival was held for the first time in 1985 and has been organised in January and February each year ever since. The city is filled with ice attractions, but the festival itself is located in three parks: Ice and Snow World, Sun Island Park and Zhaolin Park.

  • 01 Harbin Ice Intro
    Urbanmyth / Alamy Stock Photo

    Carved out of the frozen Songhua River, the ice blocks used to build the castles and buildings originate literally from Harbin’s own backyard. A total of almost 200,000 cubic metres of ice is transported to build the sculptures. A block can weigh up to 700 kilos.

    • 02 Harbin Ice Cutting
      Kevin Frayer / Freelancer / Getty Images
      03 Harbin Ice Sculpture
      Bert de Ruiter / Alamy Stock Photo

      The Harbin Ice Festival also includes the International Snow Sculpture Art Expo on Sun Island, where larger-than-life snow sculptures are created as big as 35 metres high and 100 metres long.

      The Harbin Ice Festival traditionally opens with a spectacular fireworks and light show. The festival attracts millions of visitors every year, primarily from China.

      • 04 Harbin Ice Fireworks
        VCG / Getty Images

        Ice and Snow World is the largest of the three parks, built from an incredible 120,000 cubic metres of ice and 111,000 cubic metres of snow.

        • 05 Harbin Ice Face
          Tao Zhang / Contributor / Getty Images

          The sculptures are impressive enough in the daytime, but become a dreamy, fairytale-like spectacle at night when the lights are switched on and the sculptures are illuminated in all colours of the rainbow.

          06 Harbin Ice Walls
          Tao Zhang / Contributor / Getty Images

          The icy theme park boasts more than a hundred creations. Originally, only a few Chinese artists participated but now artists from countless countries showcase their talent here.

          • 07 Harbin Ice Lightning
            Eric Hevesy / Getty Images

            Street vendors sell caramel-covered sour apples (táng hú lú), a traditional snack in northern China with a typical sweet and sour taste.

            09 Harbin Ice Food

            Visitors can spend hours exploring snowy plains, ice stairs and ingeniously carved ice tunnels.

            10 Harbin Ice Bg
            10 Harbin Ice Tower
            • 11 Harbin Ice Tunnel

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