An Otherworldly Winter Festival Embraces Wintry Elements

Northern China’s Heilongjiang Province is home to “Ice City” or Harbin, which is bitterly cold city in winter. January daytime temperatures range from negative 13-23 degrees Celsius—that is an astounding below zero 55-74 in Fahrenheit, if you can believe it! Even if your geography is a little rusty, given the harsh winter climate it shouldn’t be surprising that Harbin’s neighbor is Russia, with which it shares many cultural influences from architecture to food.

The Ice City has been home to the International Snow and Ice Festival since 1985. Since ’85 the city has grown into a top snow festival destination ranking among other world renowned contenders such as the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan, Canada’s Quebec Winter Carnival, and Norway’s Holmenkollen Ski Festival.

Depending on weather conditions, the festival usually lasts until late February.

The now legendary festival is famous for its spectacular sculptures and giant ice and snow replicas and is now underway in Harbin. The annual event, now in its 32nd year, is made up of several themed zones including a sculpture art expo and a lantern fair.

The main attraction is the Harbin Ice and Snow World, which covers more than 750,000 square meters. Its magnificent structures required more than 330,000 cubic meters of ice and snow to create. This year’s theme is “Pearl on the Crown of Ice & Snow.”

Stunning as the works are in all their white glory, the best time to go is at night, when the sculptures are lit from the inside.
Perhaps only a destination for the most adventurous, but worth bundling up for!