Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival, February 2010. My visit to Harbin’s incredible Ice Festival still stands as a major if not definitive highlight of all my travels around China. Anyone in the market for a trip during February’s Chinese New Year break would struggle to come up with a better plan than checking out this awe-inspiring winter wonderland.
Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival, February 2010. Held every winter from the final week of December to late February, the heart of the action takes place in the exclusively ice-constructed Snow World Park with its neon-lit pagodas, castles and towers. There are also remarkable recreations of iconic world monuments and pony rides that take you all the way around the complex.
Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival, February 2010. Many of the ice creations on show are designed by some of China’s most talented sculptors. And they mostly use blocks cut directly from Harbin’s Songhua River, along with deionized water when they need to cut more carefully for perfect clarity. Around ten thousand workers are employed each year just to transport the ice over to Snow World.
Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival, February 2010. Evening temperatures plummet as low as minus 25 during Chinese New Year, so I found myself regularly ducking into the numerous café tents to warm up over a coffee/beer/mulled wine/hot chocolate. But be warned, the food on offer is overpriced and crappy, so don’t count on Snow World to provide a hearty dinner.