Category: Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

The annual Ice Festival is Harbin’s main winter draw. The Harbin International Ice Festival only started about 10 years ago, and it is already one of world’s four biggest such ice and snow festivals, along with the famous ones in Sapporo, Norway, and Quebec. Harbin is called “Ice City”, and the winters are bitterly cold, but the conditions are right for the ice festival.At first, mainly Chinese participated, but in the last few years, it has become an international festival and competition. As the festival grows in international participation, and as China’s economy grows, the size of the snow sculpture and ice architecture exhibits keeps growing. The work going into making these exhibits is astounding, and their size and beauty is amazing. The festival is officially held from January 5 to February 5 each year.

However, the exhibits may open at the end of December and stay to late February. Check with our travel advisor if there are any ice sculptures available if you miss the festival time. The first Ice lanterns were a winter-time tradition in northeast China. During the Qing Dynasty(1644 – 1911), the local peasants and fishermen often made and used ice lanterns as jack-lights during the winter months. At that time these were made simply by pouring water into a bucket that was then put out in the open to freeze. It was then gently warmed before the water froze completely so that the bucket-shaped ice could be pulled out. A hole was chiseled in the top and the water remaining inside poured out creating a hollow vessel.

A candle was then placed inside resulting in a windproof lantern that gained great popularity in the region around the city. From then on, people made ice lanterns and put them outside their houses or gave them to children to play with during some of the traditional festivals. Thus the ice lantern began its long history of development. With novel changes and immense advancement in techniques, today we can marvel at the various delicate and artistic ice lanterns on display.


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