Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival – Breathtaking Ice City, all Created with Ice from the Songhua River!
Harbin is the festival of Ice and and Snow that is truly unforgettable!
This festival is two months of color, excitement and ice cold snow sculptures! You’ll be surprised this city of snow doesn’t melt before February is over. Harbin is set in China’s coldest months to maximize as much of the winter season as possible.
The beauty of this festival is that all art and sculptures created are created and intended just for this festival! Once the warm weather hits, the art work is just a distant memory of a winter gone by,
All That Ice!
One of the COOLEST parts of the Harbin Ice and Snow festival is that all the ice and snow comes directly from the local Songhua River. This festival uses over 4 million cubic feet of snow and ice to create all the beautiful artwork. Artists from all over come to Harbin to hand carve or laser cut their ice beauties.
Harbin hosts four different parks and amusement areas for attendees of all ages. Harbin truly becomes a Winter Wonderland with icy architecture and snowy figures wherever you look.
The History of Harbin
Harbin got its start in 1963 with the Ice Lantern Festival. The Ice lantern and Harbin Ice festival was inspired by the events of the Qing Dynasty fisherman that would carve out pails of ice, and place candles in them to illuminate the dark night. This became known as the local Harbiner ice lantern show garden party.
Over the years, this lantern festival began to be celebrated more by locals and tourists and began to incorporate swimming, ice sailing, sledding, and skiing. The Propaganda Department of Harbin Municipal Party Committee got the idea to sponsor a festival after taking Macau and Hong Kong officials the the ice lantern festival.
In October of 1983, the committee began deliberating on a winter festival that could incorporate all the new winter festival activities. The Harbin Ice Festival was first held on January 5, 1986 and became an annual fixture for the winder months. In 2001, Harbin was combined with Heilongjiang International Ski Festival and became officially known as China Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival.
After so many years of ice sculptures and ice cuttings, Harbin has gotten its festival details down to a science. With the help of modern technology, the Harbin Ice and Sculptural festival has become one of the best winter festivals around. With the use of laser technology and deionized water, sculptures today are finely cut and as transparent as clear glass.
The best entertainment zones include Ice & Snow World, Zhaolin Park, Snow Sculpture Art Expo on Sun Island. At the beginning of Harbin Snow and Sculpture festival, fireworks greet the over 800,000 attendees. Fireworks sound off again at the closing of the festival and attendees are encouraged to destroy the sculptures with ice picks once the festival ends.
You will see many crazy, beautiful things at Harbin. One of the most wild antics that attendees might see at this ice festival are over zealous and brave swimmers that take to the Sonhua river to go for an icy swim. Many visitors to this festival also swear by a trip to central avenue to check out beautiful landmarks and incredible buildings. The Siberian Tiger Park is also an amazing place to visit with friends or family to see the endangered liger in person.
Tickets, Pricing and Accommodations
The admission fee into Harbin Festival is actually really inexpensive. Tickets prices change depending on which venue you are at. Take a look at the Harbin website to purchase different tickets for Sun Island Scenic Arena, Zhaolin Park, The Ice and Snow World.
One of the best things about Harbin Ice Festival is the fact that it lasts for two months. Try and stay for at least three days so you send a full day checking out all the different venues.
What to Bring to Harbin
Harbin is an icy mix of carnival fun and an incredible art show. Be prepared for both! Bring a bandanna to keep the sweat and sun out of your eyes, sunblock to ward of the sun’s cancerous waves, a lot of empty water bottles to stay hydrated, and earplugs incase you need a break from all the noise. When it comes to camping gear, try to go for the more advanced tents and accessories. Splurging a little on the supplies now will really make it count in the end.
In addition to all your great winter clothes, bring a lot of water or empty water bottles to refill. Make sure you have converted currency so you can buy items at the festival and any snacks or food that you may need.
Getting to Harbin Ice
Many people that attend Harbin are from China. Don’t worry, there are several flights into Harbin and from there it should be smooth sailing. Make sure you have a valid passport before booking your tickets. Also, keep in mind that some countries have travel restrictions, so try your best to be sure you are allowed to leave from your city.
Carefully plan which way you are trying to get to the festival as it may take you several hours depending on what mode of transportation you take. Taking the train from Beijing airport may take up to ten hours, so be sure to know what you’re getting into. If you are flying from Beijing, it may just take you a few hours to get to Harbin.
The Harbin Ice festival website offers several different options for getting to the main event so keep checking the Festival’s website for more detailed information on transportation, prices and accommodations.
Who Can Come to Harbin?
Due to Harbin’s extensive nature and the fact that it is TWO MONTHS of cold, cold ice and snow, many of the attendees to the festival actually live in the area. When it comes to who is admitted into the festival, all are welcome. Families make up the majority of festival attendees as Harbin is curated specifically towards them. However, if you are bringing kids, take care to give extra attention to their health and see how they are doing in the weather. Kids can have a hard time adjusting to extreme weather.
Dressing for an Ice Festival
When planning for Harbin Ice, consider the weather and your surroundings. You’re going to be outside in winter surrounded by A LOT of ice! Take your warmest winter gear with you and be sure to have all your cold weather accessories with you as well. Keep in mind that if you arrive during the day and plan to stay late until the night, this festival takes a much colder turn when the sun goes down. Be prepared with extra blankets and coats for night weather..
When packing for Harbin, consider taking a lot of layers. All festival goers seem to swear by thick pants—as they are the most versatile and practical winter festival wear. When choosing footwear, ALWAYS choose comfort! You may very well be walking for half of the day, so you will need a pair of shoes that you know can support you. Always go for closed toed shoes like boots or athletic sneakers, preferably ones that can withstand snow.
Consider waterproof attire as it will most likely start raining or snowing as you explore this winter wonderland. Take sunglasses, visors, bandanas, protective headwear, gloves, scarves and anything else you think might keep you warm!
Tips for Harbin Ice Festival
Make sure you are fully prepared for your trip to Harbin, same way as if you go to any other festivals around the world. Many people that have attended this event in the past make sure to book all their tickets, flights, and accommodations through a knowledgable travel agent. Do your best to find someone who knows a lot about Harbin so you don’t miss out on anything that you would truly like to see.
Be sure to get out of the festival and check out the local eateries and restaurants in the area. Central avenue has some amazing places that locals and tourists both love. Do a bit of research to find the best places to check out in the city and make it a point to visit at least five of them.
Additionally, when it comes to weather, if you’re not used to so much cold, try to pace yourself. Only go to the Ice festival for part of the day and if you go multiple days, only stay for a few hours. The worst thing that can happen to you is getting overheated, or getting too cold so be sure to monitor yourself. Keep in mind that cold weather may make you incredibly dehydrated so keep tabs on how much water you are drinking. If you are suffering from too much cold, please take a break and sit down somewhere.
So whether you’ve never been to China before or you happen to live there, Harbin Festival is something that is not to be missed!
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