The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is a long running festival dedicate the joys of ice sculpture. The festival goes back to 1964, but was interrupted following the chaos of the cultural revolution. In 1985 it was brought back, and has been running since then.
The festival draws both fans and sculptors alike from ever corner of the world. The festival derives from a Qing Dynasty practice of creating ice lanterns by carving holes in blocks of ice and putting candles inside. Nowadays ambitious towers of ice have replaced the ice lanterns of old. Literal ice cities rise out of the ground for the duration of the festival, intricately sculpted with the help of electric saws, hammers, and chisels. The phantasmagoric architecture is illuminated with colored lights at night, creating a beath-taking, surreal landscape.
Organisers estimate that some 180,000 square metres of ice and 150,000 square metres of snow are used for sculpting over the duration of the festival.
The city is located in the North-Eastern China, below Siberia. It has a distinct Russian influence, dating back to its connection to the Siberian Railway. Many buildings have European facades, and there are Orthodox Churches. Curiously, there is a small Chinese Jewish community as well.
There is a range of hotels available for tourists, ranging from 5 to 3 stars. For a full list, click here.