It’s so cold in the Northern Hemisphere right now that Niagara Falls is literally freezing over, but frigid conditions are the norm in Harbin, a city in north-eastern China. Rather than riding out the winter indoors, however, the city celebrates with a huge ice and snow festival.
Located in China’s Heilongjiang province, the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival – which takes place amid temperatures as low as -35 degrees Celcius – regularly attracts upwards of 10 million visitors over six weeks. It’s comprised of several attractions over a number of city locations, including art and sculpture expos, performances, skiing and – yep – swimming events, and even a group wedding.
The main attractions, however, are enormous ice and snow sculptures which take the form of buildings lit up in neon colours and intricate designs carved directly from the snow. Sculptors mostly use ice from the nearby Songhua River, which freezes over in winter, with parts of their work standing as tall as 50m.
Now in its 34th year, this year’s festival theme is “Ice Snow Blooming Garden, Fantastic World” and sprawls over around 750,000 square metres – or around 100 football fields.
The festival and its affiliated expos is open to the public now, with events running up until the end of February. Tickets are available from around $30 (Y300) per person.
(Lead image: Healthycliff Syndor)[qantas_widget code=HRB]Check out Qantas flights to Harbin.[/qantas_widget]
Kristen Amiet is a previous AWOL editor, bona fide travel addict, sometimes whisky drinker and full-time breakfast food enthusiast.