23.3 C
Κυριακή, 26 Μαΐου, 2024
ΑρχικήEnglish EditionCultureThe Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

By Konstantina Kerpinioti,

General information

The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival takes place in China and is considered to be one of the most spectacular ice festivals in the world. The annual winter festival incorporates huge ice and snow sculptures, and the theme varies every year. At night the ice sculptures are colorfully illuminated and they look like an impressive ice city.

The festival usually begins on January 5th and lasts until the end of February. Should the weather permit so, the festival lasts until the beginning of March. In the past, the participants were mainly Chinese, but since the festival has been widely known in a lot of countries, many ice and snow sculpture artists from all over the world take part in the festival to display their creations and communicate with each other at the same time.

The evolution of this specific festival is remarkable, as it now receives several million tourists from China and all over the world. Each year, they hold their own opening ceremonies, in addition to firework displays and a series of theatrical performances celebrating the splendor of this event.

The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival constitutes a significant part of northeastern Chinese culture; it stands for Harbin’s own local customs, cultural foundations, and cultural creativity. The light encapsulated, multi-colored ice sculptures are the festival’s main feature, as works of ice art are arranged according to different themes depicting Chinese classical masterworks, European folk tales, and customs among others.

Image source: businessinsider.com

If you go to this event, you will see a diversity of objects, such as buildings, gardens, flowers, waterfalls, European-style churches, lions, tigers, dragons, and many more. Of course, all these objects are related to the year’s chosen theme. There are also a variety of fun 3D light shows and a life-sized snow Buddha. Sun Island is another major display of ice sculpture in a more expo-style format. Furthermore, many of the structures are interactive, such as castles, mazes, and slides allowing visitors an elevated tourist experience. Over 10,000 workers are necessary to create these gigantic displays which become even larger every year as technology develops even more.

Furthermore, the festival was recognized by Disney. In particular, Disney sponsored and partnered with the event in February of 2009, showcasing many Disney characters, princesses, as well as Disney-themed buildings and moments.

Origin and history

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, Harbin Ice Festival for short, was called and originated from local Harbiner traditional ice lantern show garden party (also known as “ice lantern fair”) in winter. From 1978 to 1982, many people from other countries visited Harbin so as to take a look at the ice lanterns. In addition, the number of local people who commence enjoying some winter activities, like skating, snow skiing, ice sailing, and winter swimming, was increasing continually. Also, a lot of ice/snow sculpture competitions were held during this period. The appropriate departments were alerted to this trend. Some officials of the Propaganda Department of Harbin Municipal Party Committee got a festival sponsor idea when they led Hong Kong and Macau officials to the ice lantern snow and earned praise in 1983. On October 10, 1983, the officials came up to Harbin Municipal Party Committee and made a recommendation, which afterward was submitted to Heilongjiang Provincial Party Committee and adopted after a year. So, the first Harbin Ice Festival was held with a grand ceremony, at Zhaolin Park on January 5th, 1985, and was announced as an annual event, lasting nearly two months until very late February. In 2001, Harbin Ice Festival and Heilongjiang International Ski Festival amalgamated and got their new formal name — China Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival.


Harbin is located in northern China and, to be more exact, in the northernmost Heilongjiang province and is its capital city. People who stay there permanently are no more than 11 million people. This town is too cold due to the fact that is just a few hours away from Siberian Russia. The average temperature in the winter is -16.8 °C (1.8F), with the lowest temperature reaching as much as -38.1 °C (-36.6F). This polar temperature allows the event to run smoothly and for such a long time, while also giving the city enough natural ice and snow to work with. Harbin is the city with the longest and coldest winter in China, therefore, it is called the “Ice City”.

Image source: icefestivalharbin.com

Exhibition areas

There are two main exhibition areas housing the International Ice Festival, although ice sculptures are also exhibited in the city. Sun Island displays massive snow sculptures and is located on the opposite side of the Songhua River. Ice and Snow world is the other main exhibition area located in Zhaolin Park and is a definite must-see event. The park includes sculptures created entirely of ice chunks plucked from the adjacent Songhua River, which runs through the city.

Festival activities

Winter swimming, ice hockey, snow football, alpine skiing, ice sculpture competition, short track speed, ice skating game, ice snow poem-reciting party, ice photographic exhibition, ice movie festival, ice snow wedding ceremonies, firework display, ice lantern show, ice and snow carnival, sledding, winter fishing, northeast Chinese folk song and dance performances, various trade fairs, and so on are among the most popular activities to participate in during Harbin Festival.

  • Origin and History of Harbin Ice Festival, icefestivalharbin.com, Available here
  • Why You Should Add The Harbin Ice and Snow Festival to Your Bucket List, inspiredbymaps.com, Available here
  • Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival, harbinice.com, Available here
  • Harbin International Snow and Ice Festival – An Illuminated Awe-Inspiring Winter Wonderland in China, thepinnaclelist.com, Available here


Konstantina Kerpinioti
Konstantina Kerpinioti
She is an undergraduate student at the Department of English Language and Literature at the National Kapodistrian University of Athens. She likes chess, swimming, and travel shows. She is a social and adventurous person and a supporter of gender equality and human rights in general. Also, she is interested in being informed and expressing her opinion on social issues. In addition, she considers self-confidence to be the most attractive element in an individual’s personality. She is a nature lover, and she adores cats. Her motto is that if you try and fight hard, you can achieve anything you want — even the impossible.