The 2016 Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in Harbin Welcomes The World

Harbin 2015 FireworksThe annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival opened on January 5th. This winter wonderland of snow sculptures has been held in China since 1963.

For the past 2 weeks sculptors have been carving away with ice picks, chisels and even lasers.  It took 7,000 artists and workers to complete the snow city. To combat Harbin’s freezing temperatures, the organizers have set up many hot beverage stations around the park and even offer complementary ginger tea at its concierge hall.

Harbin 2015 VolunteersThe “Ice City” Harbin is located in Northeast China. The average temperature is -17 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in winter. Annual low temperatures below -35C (-31F) are not uncommon.

Nowadays, ice lantern in the broadest sense refers to a series of sculptures using ice and snow as the raw materials. These ice artworks are combined with coloured lights, fireworks, smoke and music. Ice sculpture decoration technology ranges from the modern (using lasers) to traditional (with ice lanterns). As China’s most famous and popular winter attraction, the festival has drawn in millions of visitors over the years.

Harbin 2015 Horse and CarriageThe Ice Festival features illuminated full size buildings made from blocks of 2–3 feet thick crystal clear ice taken directly from the Songhua River. There are ice lantern park touring activities held in many parks in the city. The Festival is an impressive display of sculpted snow animals, people and mythical creatures. There is even a 240 meter (800 feet) long ice slide along with skating rinks and mazes.

Winter activities in the festival include alpine skiing, winter-swimming in the Songhua River, and the ice-lantern exhibition in Zhaolin Garden.

What’s the story of ice lanterns?

Harbin 2014 Kidz News Ice Bucket LanternThe first Ice lanterns were a winter-time tradition in northeast China. During the Qing Dynasty1644 – 1911), the local peasants and fishermen often made and used ice lanterns as jack-lights during the winter months. At that time these were made simply by pouring water into a bucket that was then put out in the open to freeze. It was then gently warmed before the water froze completely so that the bucket-shaped ice could be pulled out. A hole was chiselled in the top and the water remaining inside poured out creating a hollow “lantern”. A candle was then placed inside resulting in a windproof lantern that gained great popularity in the region around the city. You can make one yourself if you live in the right climate zone. Sorry Los Angeles!

The Harbin festival is one of the world’s four largest ice and snow festivals, along with Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival, Canada’s Quebec City Winter Carnival, and Norway’s Ski Festival.

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Also a Video from EuroNews from 2014:

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