Harbin city in China is hosting one of the world's largest festivals, the Harbin International Snow and Ice Festival. It features ice sculptures of animals, cartoon characters and famous landmarks.
The "winter wonderland" festival is usually held from December to February, although the official launch took place on January 5. According to CNN, the event started since 1985 and is now on its 33rd year. The festival is annually held in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang Province, which is in the northern portion closer to Russia. Last year, the event drew more than a million visitors.
The sculptures range from cartoon characters to animals to replicas of famous world monuments and landscapes, There is a 340-metre (1,115-feet)-long slide that took around 500 builders to finish, according to state media.
The festival is composed of several themed zones. The main attraction is the Harbin Ice and Snow World, which covers more than 750,000 square meters and displays up to 180,000 cubic meters of ice. There is also ice swimming in the Songhua River.
Sculptors come from all over the world to compete. It is best to see the place and the works at night because of the led lights. There is only one deterrent: it is very, very cold. January daytime temperatures in Harbin range from minus 13 to minus 24 Celsius.
For 20 days, 50 farmers worked to supply the Harbin International Snow and Ice Festival's sculptors with blocks of ice from the river. The Harbin Winter Festival is compared to the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan, Canada's Quebec Winter Carnival and Norway's Holmenkollen Ski Festival.
"I feel happy. Especially after completion, I feel so excited when looking at the ice wall with lights on in distance," said Lu Fu, an ice sculptor who has been carving ice for more than 20 years. "Ice building is the pride of Harbin people."
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