The city of Harbin in China opened a world-class ice and snow carnival to welcome the New Year. Visitors will see grand buildings built with crystal-clear ice cubes with colorful lights placed inside, such as the Chinese-style tower of five blessings and the snow-capped broken bridge, as well as scenery inspired by the city of Suzhou, the imperial palace, the world’s largest Gothic church in Milan, the Colosseum and a European castle gate.
These splendid scenes are on display at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, which opened on Jan. 5. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the festival, China’s first ice-themed global event. It is also known as one of the world’s four major snow festivals, along with the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan, the Quebec Winter Carnival in Canada and the Holmenkollen Ski Festival in Norway. The ice and snow buildings here present a Hollywood-style visual feast, according to the Information Office of Harbin Municipality.
Harbin is a city in northeast Asia and a center for cooperation with Russia. It was once a hub along the Chinese Eastern Railway and a gathering point for many overseas Chinese. At the beginning of the 20th century, more than 160,000 expatriates from 33 countries lived there, with 19 countries setting up consulates in the city. Harbin was then known as the “Oriental Paris” thanks to the integration of Chinese and overseas cultures.
Harbin is known as the “Ice City” due to its freezing winters. The main stream of the Songhua River passes through the city, making the river’s banks the ideal gathering places for the people of Harbin and those who love ice and snow activities. The locals used to spontaneously freeze ice lamps in buckets, contributing to the birth of the city’s winter extravaganza.
Every January, the city is ignited by the strong passion for the ice and snow festival. Tourists from all over the world gather in “the Pearl on the Crown of Ice and Snow.” The professional ice and snow sculpture competitions draws world-renowned professional teams, college students and snow lovers alike. Tourists and photographers flood the region to view the snow sculptures, lingering amid the whimsy of the creations.
The 24th Winter Olympic Games will be held in China in 2022. Winter Olympics champions Shen Xue, Zhao Hongbo and Zhang Hong all hail from Harbin, the first city in China to host world-class winter sports events such as the Winter Universiade and the Asian Winter Games.
During the festival, people can enjoy many international sporting events such as skiing, ice hockey and curling, and families can partake in skating, snow football and other outdoor games. Those who are bold enough and well-prepared can jump into the winter swimming pool in the Songhua River. People can also bring their friends to the Yabuli Ski Resort to snowboard and feel the thrill of a race. No matter what you’re most excited to do or see, everyone is welcome to Harbin to experience the magic and charm of ice and snow.
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