The ice cream is right! Spectacular sculptures light up the night sky in China for the annual Harbin Ice and Snow Festival
There are many reasons to hate winter weather – freezing temperatures, predictably miserable weather and dark nights all contribute to gloomy faces around the world.
But there are also reasons to smile, as evidenced by this beautiful theme park in Northeast China made entirely of ice and snow.
The 28th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, which opened Christmas Day, showcases work by some of the country’s top ice sculptors and attracts thousands of visitors from around the world.
Have A Nice Day! A horse-drawn carriage navigates the snow-covered streets of the impressive city of Harbin Ice and Snow Festival
Sky high: Some sculptures at the event tower above the visitors – up to 50 meters high
In these stunning photos, the festival’s amazing sculptures are illuminated from the inside after night falls – with visitors strolling among the impressive works.
Those attending the event can navigate the ice cities on foot or via the festival’s horse-drawn carriage rides. Not only can they walk around and marvel at the colorful creations, but also slide down snowy slides or climb the steps of ice castles and explore what’s inside.
The Harbin Ice and Snow Festival is one of the world’s top ice festivals.
Ice to see you, to see you ice! The sculptures are illuminated from the inside with complex, computer-controlled LED systems
Mind the step: visitors can navigate stairs carved into the numerous creations
It now rubs shoulders with famous ice events such as the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan and Quebec’s Winter Carnival (Carnaval de Québec) in Canada.
Harbin is known as Ice City because winters are bitterly cold (temperatures can drop as low as -30°C), but conditions are perfect for the ice festival, which has its origins in the carved ice lanterns by local fishermen.
The very first festival is said to have been held in 1963 at Zhaolin Park in Harbin’s Old Quarter.
What goes up must come down: a female ice-lover whizzes down one of the slides during the event
Rapid growth: The Harbin Snow and Ice Festival has grown in size in recent years due to China’s growing economy
It was shut down for some time during the Cultural Revolution, then it started again – finally, in 1999, the city government started the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival.
Initially, the clientele was mainly Chinese, but in recent years it has grown into an international festival and competition that attracts people from all over the world.
The growth of the festival has gone hand in hand with the continued growth of China’s economy, which in turn has contributed to the scale of snow sculptures and ice architecture.
Colorful Ice Creations: The Spectacular Sights at China’s Harbin Snow and Ice Festival
Last year, tens of thousands of people worked on the displays, which included world-record snow sculptures – some taller than two football fields, while others stand up to 50 meters high.
They all use technologically advanced equipment with computer-controlled LEDs and regular lighting, creating the stunning color renderings seen in all of these photos.
With such rapid growth, this year’s event is naturally being touted as one of the biggest yet.
How did they do that? This impressive skyline is made of blocks of ice that are up to a meter wide
Winter fun: in addition to sculptures, the festival also offers a range of ice attractions
Slippery Slope: Visitors are dwarfed by the giant ice architecture
Spread across three zones, the theme park features an array of snow rides, icebergs, and reproductions of some of the most iconic buildings in the world – all carved from giant blocks of ice and snow.
Located near the border with Russia, the city experiences dry but frigid winters and has an abundance of ice from the nearby Songhau River.
Winter activities at the festival include Yabuli downhill skiing, winter swimming and the ice lantern exhibition at Zhaolin Garden.
Taking the scenic route: Rows of ice pagodas line one of the park’s central roads
Cool reception: Artisans have reproduced some of the world’s most recognizable buildings
Grand Entrance: This gigantic ice arch is an impressive entrance to the city