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Ice sculpture The sculptures at the Ice and Snow World Park range in size from small statues to entire buildings. (Andy Wong / AP Images)

China’s City of Ice

Enormous ice sculptures dazzle visitors at this year’s annual ice and snow festival in China

By Tyrus Cukavac | January 13 , 2012
<p>PHOTO: Fireworks and colored lights illuminate the massive ice castles. (Andy Wong / AP Images) </p><p> MAP: Harbin lies close to the border of China and Russia. (Jim McMahon)</p>

PHOTO: Fireworks and colored lights illuminate the massive ice castles. (Andy Wong / AP Images)

MAP: Harbin lies close to the border of China and Russia. (Jim McMahon)

Forget about snowmen—in China, they build life-size snow castles! At the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, huge sculptures made from ice show off the ice-sculpting abilities of artists from around the world.

More than 2,000 ice sculptures are featured at the festival’s Ice and Snow World park this year. The sculptures range in size from small statues to entire buildings! At night, colorful lights and dazzling fireworks light up the snowy city.

This year’s festival opened on January 5. Spread over 150 acres, the icy event is one of the four largest winter festivals in the world.

Visitors from around the world enjoy hot-air balloon rides, ice swimming, and ice-sculpting competitions. The park also has five enormous slides made from ice, which festivalgoers can glide down for a frosty but fun ride.

Some attendees are taking special advantage of the beautiful scenery. This year, 18 couples are getting married against the backdrop of the festival’s frozen fortresses.


Harbin is the capital city of Heilongjiang province. The northeastern Chinese city is not far from Siberia in Russia. The opening ceremony of the festival featured special performances by both Russian and Chinese dancers.

Many of the sculptures have a Russian theme. One of these is the “Swan Girl,” a 90-foot-tall sculpture of a ballerina with wings based partly on a character from a famous Russian ballet called Swan Lake. It is currently the largest ice sculpture in the world.

The festival will officially end on February 5. When the weather warms, China’s snowy city will melt away. We’ll have to wait until next winter to see what new creations take its place.

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