Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

harbin ice festival

 When in Rome, you do as the Romans do. When in Harbin, China in January, you make snow sculptures. Because if you’re going to be freezing anyways, you may as well turn your snowy enemy into a work of art. Harbin is located in Northeast China, and is directly pelted with the cold winds from Siberia during the winter months. It’s not uncommon for temperatures to reach -35 degrees celsius (-31 fahrenheit). A bit excessive for my Floridian blood I do believe, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the outdoors (?)…

The China Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival attracts visitors from around the globe to witness ice sculptors convert tons of the frozen good stuff into these exquisite masterpieces.

harbin ice festival

Harbin ice festival

These cold beauties are constructed by using swing saws to cut blocks of ice from the frozen Songhua River. These blocks are then carved into their respective forms by a variety of techniques. Ice sculptors use traditional methods such as saws, chisels and ice picks, as well as taking advantage of modern technology by using lasers. The results are stunning.

harbin ice festival

harbin ice festival

The festival officially opens on January 5, and runs for one month. These dates vary, depending on weather. This year, 2014, will be the 30th edition of this winter wonderland. There 5 main areas:

You can plan your visit on your own, or book a winter tour package that can take care of the details for you. Timing of course plays a role here, and if you go early you can watch the ice sculptors putting the finishing touches on their creations. If you go near the end, you can take part in the dismantling  by helping smash the sculptures with an ice pick. As much as I love an artist hard at work, that second option does sound like quite a blast… provided my poor little fingers were still functional enough to even hold an ice pick… it’s a little different than sand castles.

{Photography by Bert van Dijk}

  • Wow! So gorgeous and amazing! It’s pretty cold for me too, but I’d have to see it!

    • This is going on my extended bucket list – I’d have to spend at least a month or so acclimating to colder weather first! It is amazing what they can do with ice and snow though!! Far more advanced than my childhood snowmen when we visited the mountains… lol

  • Hi! So glad you stopped by! I had no idea they did this in Korea as well – how cool that you were able to see it in person!!You pictures look like you and your class had a lot of fun. 🙂 I have heard of artists doing similar things with sand, which is far more likely in my home state of Florida lol.