Harbin Ice Festival is a True Winter Wonderland in China

December 24 to February 28, 2020

Photo Courtesy by mymodernmet.com

Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture festival is the world’s largest winter festival featuring the most spectacular ice installations and fun activities. The extreme cold makes the arctic-like conditions perfect for elaborate ice carving. Packing for this trip will no doubt include all your thermal underwear, gloves, scarves, hats, and boots.

Photo Courtesy by mymodernmet.com

The festival was first celebrated in 1999 to salute the new millennium. It was such a success that the following year in 2000, Harbin Municipal Government and Harbin Cultural Tourism built another Disneyland-like park made from ice and snow. Since then, the fairytale world has grown every year. This year marks the 36th year of the festival and it has quickly become the world’s most popular winter attraction. It’s more attended than Quebec’s Winter Carnival, Norway’s Holmenkollen Ski Festival and even Japans Sapporo snow festival. What sets this one apart is the size and scale of the sculptures and the incredible lighting.

The festival is commonly referred to as having four key ‘mosts’: the most art attractions, the most beautiful night views, the most recreational activities and the most forms of entertainment. The ice festival is constantly evolving, and each year brings a new theme, providing visitors — around 15 million annually — a totally unique experience from year to year.

In its first year the festival’s layout was designed around the idea of ‘Prosperous China and High-flying Longjiang’, with the ice carvings depicting the rapid development of the country. In 2005, the theme was ‘Friendship between China and Russia’, and all the sculptures where fashioned around typical Russian styles. In fact there were even replicas of some of Russia’s most famous architecture, such as the East Palace, and Moscow’s Red Square – all made from ice and snow.

Of course a major highlight for any visitor is to attend the winter wonderland in the evening when multicolored lights underground illuminate the sculptures, revealing a whole new colorful dimension. The contrasts of the bright and dazzling lights against the dark night sky make the works look even more spectacular.

Photo Courtesy by boredpanda.com

There are also incredible activities and entertainment inside the festival.  Visitors can not only experience the sculptures but enjoy walking through an ice maze, stopping at the ice bar or even an overnight at the ice hotel! If you love snow sports the festival also offers the chance to participate in activities such as ice rock-climbing, ice golf, and even ice archery. The activities are always based on the theme for the year, which by the way this year is “Ice Snow Integration, Happy to Go Together.”

Photo Courtesy by atlasobscura.com

So, if you are not afraid of blistering cold – this is the perfect winter wonderland for you.