Where: Harbin, China.
As the world sheds away the hangover of the New Year’s Eve, an adorable Chinese city of Harbin prepares to treat the world with its extravagant festival of ice & snow sculptures! The city of Harbin, which is reckoned as the coldest Chinese city, thanks to its Siberian neighborhood, gets all dolled up with the world’s biggest ice sculptures to host dazzling ‘International Ice And Snow Festival’. The festival lasts for over a month, during which, the best collections of ice artworks grabs the center stage as well as the minds of the visitors!
The ‘Ice & Snow Festival’ in ‘Harbin’ is renowned as the largest of its kind & it features a bevy of events, exhibitions, shows & other winter activities. Throughout the festival season, the entire city becomes a huge showcase of ice-replicas of world’s famous buildings, palaces, monuments & statues, which, more often than not, surges some 50 meters high. What makes this city more fascinating is the fact that the visitors are totally allowed to walk or slide into & around this icy paradise & many replicas are actually provided with amazing ice slides to make your visit even more enjoyable.
Apart from its exquisite display of snow art, the festival is also famous for Ice Lantern Art Fair, which demonstrates the vibrant Chinese traditions. The ‘Lantern Fair’ is regarded by many as the cradle of the celebration & is thought to be the best part of this amazing world of snow & ice!
Why They Celebrate?
The festival originated as a part of Harbin’s traditional ice lantern show & garden party. The Ice lantern show was the winter time tradition in northeast ‘China’, which was prevalent during the Qing dynasty. The locals used to prepare ice lanterns during the winter months. A simple technique would be used to carve a lamp from the ice in the buckets. People used to use these beautiful lamps to decorate their houses as well their yards. The tradition soon gained the popularity among the regions surrounding Harbin & the ‘Ice Lantern Party’ became one of the most fascinating events in the northern part of ‘China’ during the bitter winters.
The local event took the form of a festivity after 1963, although it was interrupted for several years during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. An official annual event started on January 5th, 1985 at ‘Zhaolin Park’ & ever since then, the festival has seen its popularity soaring to sky high to become a truly unrivaled winter festival of the earth.
How They Celebrate?
The festival is celebrated amidst the magnificent world of sculptures & buildings chiseled from the ice, which dazzles in the glittering lights embedded inside the monuments, making it look even more spectacular & divine. Apart from the incredible ice-world, the festival has myriad events & expos to enthrall the hundreds of thousands of spectators who flock the city with festive spirit. The main events & exhibitions take place at the following three venues:
The Sun Island Park: The island park resides opposite to the ‘Songhou River’ & flaunts an amazing display of snow effigies. It has the largest indoor ice & snow art museum in the world & it opens to the public after November.
The Ice & Snow World: Established in 1999, the ‘Ice & Snow World’ is regarded as one of the largest parks in the world featuring the monuments made up of ice. The park houses several world renowned architectures such as the Egyptian Pyramids, European churches & the Great wall of China!
Zhaolin Park: The climax of the festival, the ‘Zhaolin Park’ boasts the most phenomenal collection of a wide range of ice artworks. The artworks in the park are meticulously classified into groups such as Chinese classical artwork, European monuments, mythological creatures, etc. Visiting the park at night leaves the tourists spellbound as the colorful lighting that illuminates the colossal ice artworks make the park feel like a fairy-tale world! The incredible ‘Zhaolin Park’ is considered as one of the most superb 35 tourist destinations in China.
Other Events: Apart from the exhibition of snow & ice monuments, the region around Harbin also hosts multitudes of interesting winter activities, including dog sledding, ice skating, snowmobiling, skiing & winter swimming.
Ice Festival in 2015:
The 31st Ice festival, which has already gone underway this year, is catering to cover three most important Chinese festivals- ‘Chinese New Year’, the ‘Spring Festival’ & the ‘Lantern Festival’. Apart from the regular ice exhibitions, a visit to Harbin’s magnificent ‘St. Sophia Church’, ‘Songhua River’ & ‘Harbin Polarland’ is also worthwhile. A bevy of activities associated with culture, fashion, trade, sports & tourism are all set to greet the vibrant crowd in order to stand by this year’s theme- ‘Ice-Snow Fascinating Harbin- Charming Chinese Dream’!
Today, this one month-long grand fiesta has gone far beyond being just a snow & art expo & has become a global stage of cultural exchange. Ace artists of ice sculptures & innumerable fans from all over the world make an annual pilgrimage to the city of ‘Harbin’ to witness the glorious artworks & to exchange the views & ideas, which make the jamboree even grandeur. This extravagant festivity is worth visiting at least once in a lifetime!