Quick, before it melts: visit the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival

Culture | by Miller Wey
Posted: January 10th, 2012 | Updated: January 11th, 2012 | Comments
Just last week, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, one of the four largest such festivals in the world, had its ceremonial opening. Harbin's biggest event, the Harbin Ice Festival (as it is colloquially known) sees the erection of a city's worth of ice and snow that lights up neon at night like a polar Las Vegas, with artists competing to create the most beautiful piece of ice art. All the while, hordes of visitors keep things warm with hot drinks and mass weddings. The festivities run through the end of February with many of the sculptures and structures staying up until they melt (check out our photos from an earlier Harbin Ice Festival). This year's is the 28th festival since it restarted post-Cultural Revolution in 1985 and, as we saw in a recent Best of the Web, it features a number of pieces based on Russian architecture as part of a joint tourism promotion between China and Russia. Although the spirit of the festival spills over into other parts of Harbin, most people come to see the attractions in the three main areas: Harbin Ice and Snow World, Sun Island Park and Zhaolin Park. More on these areas and travel packages after the jump...

Harbin Ice and Snow World

Harbin Ice and Snow World is the big one—a massive icy wonderland of castles, world monuments and sculpture all made of ice. Find out how much fun it is to ride in a one horse open carriage down the frozen lanes and boulevards, or to glide down the longest ice slide you've ever seen. The biggest crowds come out at night when the neon lights tucked below the ice turn on, and fireworks burst overhead.

Sun Island Park

Although much of the event's coverage goes to the structures built from massive bricks of ice, Sun Island's snow sculptures are not to be missed.  The sculptures are done with artificial snow, which is denser and harder than natural snow, allowing for more precise shapes to be carved out. Keep an eye out for one of the area's makeshift coffee shops, so when your hands go numb you'll be able to find some salvation from the cold. Some of these temporary structures are even made from snow.

Zhaolin Park

Smaller than Harbin Ice and Snow World, Zhaolin Park also features a collection of ice-built structures as well as an annual ice sculpture contest that sees teams from different parts of the world facing off with their delicate, crystalline artworks. In 2009, the Shanghai and many of the company's most famous characters began making appearances at the event, some as frosty sculptures and others just as regular statues.

Visit Harbin

Before the snow and ice is gone until next year, grab a flight to Harbin and a hotel room, or hit two birds with one stone with a package deal. Check out these package deals from Ctrip into Harbin combining hotel and flight cost:
  • Harbin 4 nights package: Keep it simple! Fly to Harbin and stay four nights at the Bremen Hotel Harbin. Prices start from RMB 4,026 for two adults.
  • Harbin and Club Med 4 nights package: While in China's cold northeast, why not hit the slopes? Fly to Harbin and spend one night at the Bremen Hotel Harbin before taking the train to ski spot Yabuli for three nights at the Club Med Yabuli Resort. Price includes round train tickets between Harbin and Yabuli. Prices start from RMB 6,797 for two adults.
  • Club Med 4 nights package: That skiing sounded really good, huh? Fly to Harbin before heading to Yabuli and spend four nights at the Club Med Yabuli Resort. Prices start from RMB 6,538 for two adults.
To book one of these package deals with Ctrip, call our packages reservation department at 400 619 9999 from Mainland China or (86 21) 3210 4669 from outside Mainland China and press 3; these deals are for a limited time, and can't be found online, so call today! Additional options including airport pickup, Yabuli cable car tickets and one or two-day Yabuli ski tickets can be added.
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