Harbin Snow and Ice Festival

Every year in Harbin, the capitol of the Heilongjian province in China, one of the largest snow and ice festivals in the world is constructed.  Cultivating ice from the Songhua river using swing saws and trucking in tons of snow from the surrounding province, they erect GIANT ice and snow sculptures which are illuminated from outside and within.  The rest of the pictures are stunning, take a look.

For weeks specialists meticulously carve massive blocks of ice recreating architectural marvels from around the world, but the emphasis is definitely on China.  Half scale recreations of the great wall of china, the coliseum, massive pagodas and fantasy castles.  It stretches for miles and people come from all over the world to witness it.

Ice not your thing?  Check out these monumental snow sculpture tributes to Mao or if your American, Mickey Mouse.  People gather on the opening day of the festival (normally mid January though the festival continues for over a month) to participate in group weddings.  Thats right kids, your mom and I tied the knot with 60 strangers at a tourist attraction.  It’s the scale of these undertakings thats so impressive, and with the advent of modern technology it’s no longer all executed with pick and shovel.  LASERS are used, frickin lasers!!   And to get that crystal clear ice carving so the colored lights can refract just right they freeze massive vats of deionized ice to prevent air bubbles from locking in.  I can’t imagine how much it all costs.

Though the real spectacle is at nite when the sculptures are illuminated (check out that sphinx!), during the day people participate in polar bear swim style races, enjoy festival food (snow cones!) and music while children slip and slide around the massive frozen jungle gym.  There are ice slides EVERYWHERE, so delightfully dangerous!

Sadly, this years festival just melted to a close, but it will surely be back next year bigger and colder than ever.  Check out the full set of photos here.  Otherwise, check out the opening fireworks display and further coverage via youtube.

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