Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival
Harbin is a large north-eastern Chinese city with over 5,800,000 inhabitants. Traditionally known for its beautiful Russian-influenced architecture, Harbin is situated above forty-five degrees north latitude and unsurprisingly suffers from incredibly cold winters with temperatures regularly below minus twenty degrees Celsius. This is the reason for it being given the nickname of the ‘Ice City’.
Sources: Lin Yang
However despite the crippling cold, locals have transformed the city during the tough winter months into a neon-lit fantasy land with the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Founded in 1963 (although it was cancelled for many years during the Cultural Revolution, eventually re-starting in the 1980s), this annual event has become a popular tourist attraction and gained exposure across the world.
Source of all festival images: Dayou_X
The festival begins annually on the fifth of January and lasts for as long as the weather permits (usually one month). When the Songhua River freezes over, ice is taken from the surface and is carved into blocks using swing saws. Sculptors then use a variety of tools including chisels, ice picks and saws to create the huge ice sculptures. For some, de-ionised water is used to make the blocks which produces the transparent ice used for clear sculptures. Finally, multicolour lights are placed carefully around the ice blocks to create the incredible night-time displays. In some cases ice lanterns are used by chiseling holes in the blocks and using the void as a wind-free home for lighting.
As one can see through some of these photographs, the sheer size of these ice sculptures is simply phenomenal.