For nearly 3 decades, hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in northeast China to witness dazzling works of ice architecture that stretch up to the sky and light up at night. Talented artisans use swing saws to carve giant chunks of ice from the frozen Songhua River and mold them into jaw-dropping life-size sculptures. The festival officially starts each year on January 5th (when temperatures can dip as low as minus 36 degrees fahrenheit!), but if the weather cools off earlier, it's possible that these temporary art pieces will pop up sooner. Read on to see pictures of the amazing ice sculptures from last year's festival, which were scattered throughout the city!
Ice and snow are prominent features in frigid northern climes, around which an incredible culture has emerged. This is particularly true in Harbin, the capital of China’s Heilongjiang province. Despite a brief cessation during the Cultural Revolution, the practice of hauling massive chunks of ice out of a river and turning them into towering buildings, monuments, animals and mythical creatures is alive and well and draws an enormous crowd.
Right about now people are suiting up for next year’s festival, which officially starts January 5th, in order to witness these majestic temporary pieces before the weather warms up again. The designers use lasers and ice lanterns to give intricate form to the ice blocks, and sometimes adorn them with lights that illuminate Harbin at night. There are three main places to view the sculptures that are produced by an increasingly international body of ice artists: the Grand World of Ice and Snow, Sun Island Park, and Zhaolin Park, where its ice lantern shows also take place. There are a host of other activities available, so gear up with some super warm winter clothes and consider visiting this amazing spectacle.
all images via wikipedia commons