Every year, in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province, the city of Harbin hosts the Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival, which features massive ice and snow sculptures—and attracts more than 1 million visitors. At night, the sculptures are colorfully illuminated and visitors can climb and play on some of the structures.
Where Carnival celebrates the end of Brazil’s oppressive heat, the International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival makes the most of the bitter winter weather you’ll find in Harbin, China.
Located in Northeast China, Harbin receives some seriously cold winter winds blowing over from Siberia. How cold, you may ask? The average daily temperature in winter is around -17 °C (1.8 ºF), and lows of -35°C (-31 ºF) are dauntingly frequent.
The festival has been held since 1963. It had been interrupted for a number of years during the Cultural Revolution but had been resumed by 1985. Along with Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival, Canada’s Quebec City Winter Carnival, and Norway’s Ski Festival. The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is listed as the top 4 ice and snow festivals in the world.
Traditionally, the Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival open around Dec 24-25 and last to the end of February. But its official opening ceremony usually held on January 5th each year. And the time is usually considered as the official date of the formal beginning of the festival. The festival includes many interesting activities and events, such as ice and snow carnival, international ice sculptures competitions, ice lantern show, sliding, ice-sailing, sledging, ice hockey, ice football, speed skating, cross-field skiing and Alpine skiing competitions, fishing, swimming, ice and snow film art show, painting exhibition, calligraphy display, photo exhibition, folk song and dance performances, wedding ceremonies on ice, trade talks, trade fairs and all kinds of national or international sports events etc.
The 36th Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival opens with a theme “Pearl on the Crown of Ice & Snow” on January 5 in 2020. The festival is featured by 5 category ice snow events & activities of tourism, culture, fashion, trade and sports. It consists of four theme parks: Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Expo, Harbin Ice and Snow World, Songhua River Ice and Snow Harbin Valley, and the Zhaolin Park Ice Lantern Fair. As well as some new programs at Volgar Mannor and Ying Jie Scenenic Area.
Travel Tips for Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival
1. Best Time to go: Please avoid the Chinese New Year (Feb 4 – 10, 2020). The parks will be very crowded and the hotels are very expensive.
2. Ticket Price: To enter different venues (parks) of the festival, you have to buy different tickets at different prices. Ice Lantern Fair: RMB 150, Sun International Snow Sculpture Art Expo: RMB 330 ($48), Harbin Ice and Snow World: RMB 330; Harbin Wanda Ice Lantern World RMB 330
3. If you enter the Zhaolin Park before 15:30 pm, you can get a discount at ticket price, but it is not the best time to see the ice lanterns. After 5:50 pm, the best time there is no discount.
4. The Harbin Ice Festival 2020 will be closed at the end of February.