The 28th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival opened on January 5 in China, featuring works of some of the country's best ice sculptors. The festival's amazing sculptures are seen illuminated from the inside after night has fallen - with visitors meandering in between the impressive works. Those who attend the event can navigate the ice cities on foot or via the festival's horse and carriage rides, zip down snowy slides or climb up the staircases of ice castles.
Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province of China, is one of the sources of ice and snow culture in the world. Geographically, it is located in Northeast China under the direct influence of the cold winter wind from Siberia. The average temperature in summer is 21.2 degrees Celsius and winters can be bitterly cold with temperatures plummeting to -16.8 degrees Celsius and more.
The annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival has been held since 1963. It had been interrupted for a number of years during the Cultural Revolution until it was resumed in 1985.
Officially, the festival starts January 5th and lasts one month. However the exhibits often open earlier and stay longer if weather permits. Ice sculpture decoration technology ranges from the modern (using lasers) to traditional (with ice lanterns). There are ice lantern park touring activities held in many parks in the city. Winter activities in the festival include Yabuli alpine skiing, winter-swimming in the Songhua River, and the ice-lantern exhibition in Zhaolin Garden.
The Harbin festival is one of the world's four largest ice and snow festivals, along with Japan's Sapporo Snow Festival, Canada's Quebec City Winter Carnival, and Norway's Ski Festival.
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