Some people dream of tropical climates and hot, sandy beaches when they plan a vacation – the hotter, the better. For those who prefer a cooler destination, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in Heilongjiang Province, China may be just the place.
The festival grounds span an impressive 600,000 square meters and feature over a hundred ice and snow sculptures and attractions. It takes over 120,000 cubic meters of snow and over 110,000 cubic meters of ice to create remarkably detailed displays. The colorful installations include a giant snow Buddha, a 340-meter long ice slide, and a 3D light show – each designed to absorb and reflect light in a spectacular kaleidoscope of color.
The festival began over 35 years ago as an homage to Heilongjiang’s tradition of carving lanterns from ice and illuminating them with candles. Since its inception, the Harbin Festival has grown to become the world’s largest ice and snow carnival and one of the most popular winter events in the world.
Each year, the festival committee invites snow sculptors from around the world to submit entries into a competition and exhibition. Besides the official festival activities and displays, there are plenty of free events to take part in throughout Heilongjiang, including a snowman parade along the river that features over 2,000 unique snowmen.
The festival takes place between January 5th and February 5th, with early access to some of the most popular attractions, like the Harbin Ice and Snow World, which is made entirely of ice “bricks” pulled from the Songhua River. Tickets for festival attractions are available from late December until the end of February.