Created with the theme ‘Pearl on the Crown of Ice and Snow’, the Chinese Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is set to open its doors on the 5th of January 2016. This is the 32nd Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, and aims to present a new winter related theme each year. According to the official website, this unique festival may be the world’s biggest winter festival, and may be significantly larger in scale than other winter ice sculpture events which take place in similarly cold countries such as Norway and Canada.
Harbin is situated in the eastern side of China and there are many high-speed trains which connect Harbin to the major cities such as Shanghai and Beijing. For this event, there are a variety of tour packages available which are tailored for families, ski enthusiasts or simply tourists who are keen to visit the snow and ice festival without all the extras. For example, one tour offers a 6 day package including travelling to Yabuli Ski Resort for a skiing session, visits to temples out with the festival area and also includes a trip to a Siberian Tiger Park.
Within the festival area, are three venues, which offer different ticket prices and opening hours. The first is the Sun Island Scenic Area, which displays daytime snow sculptures. The second venue is the Ice and Snow World, which displays large-scale ice sculptures such as a replica of the Great Wall of China and palace buildings. Finally the third venue, Zhaolin Park, includes over 1000 ice shapes carved to look like animals and cartoon figures, as well as ice slides, which may appeal to families with children.
What may make the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival unique is the amount of effort put into the creation of the larger-scale ice sculptures, which combine light, sound and action together. Perhaps the best time to view the sculptures is at night when it is dark, as the colourful lights are at their brightest. The official Chinese tourist board claims artists travel from around the world specifically for the Harbin Ice festival to create cool masterpieces from snow and ice, which are often record-breaking in size. Furthermore, the festival includes fireworks displays, performances and other activities for both children and adults to enjoy.
Besides the Snow and Ice festival which may attract tourists to the city of Harbin each winter, are a variety of alternative attractions which may appeal to those visiting the area. According to the China National Tourist Office, the city of Harbin is often referred to as ‘Eastern Moscow’ due to its Russian influence during its early trade port days hundreds of years ago. Harbin’s central street — Zhongyang Street — was built in 1898 and is a major high street, with plenty of Chinese and European shops. Close by is the Saint Sophia Cathedral, which may be the largest Russian Orthodox Church in Asia. Another point of interest which is significantly influenced by Russia is St. Alekseyev Church, designed by a Russian architect in 1935. Further attractions in the area include Stalin Park, the Dragon Tower which is a high steel structure, and the Harbin Confucius Temple.
With much to potentially see and do in Harbin, this city of ice may be attractive to Chinese and overseas visitors. The distinctive ice-carved architecture, fresh sculpture ideas each year and opportunity to go skiing, ice-skating, family catered activities, distinctive winter art and much more, there may be something for all ages to enjoy.
What other locations elsewhere in the world have the potential to showcase snow art exhibitions?