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Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin

Mar 3, 2008
Harbin is one of the most popular tourist spots in China. Situated in the heart of the north-eastern Asian economic region and along the eastern region of the Songhuajiang - Nenjiang Plain, Harbin is the largest as well as the capital city of the Heilongjiang - the country's northernmost province. Bestowed with the title of the 'Oriental Moscow,' Harbin also serves as the economic, cultural, educational, and political center of the province.

Sprawling over an area of about 18500 square kilometers, Harbin has Lanxi County and Zhaodong in the north-west, Shuangcheng and Wuchang in the south-west, and Shangzhi and Bayan and Mulan counties in the south-east.

Further, Harbin is just about 300 miles away from the extremely cold seaport of Russia, namely, Vladivostok. Harbin is especially well known for two things, one for its cold temperature, which may sometimes plummets to forty below zero, and another for its much famed International Ice and Snow Festival that is held annually. In winter, Harbin becomes truly becomes a paradise filled with ice and snow. Hence, it is not a wonder why Harbin has been sometimes referred to as 'the Ice City.'

The Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival officially begins from January 5th every year and lasts for about a month. Sometimes, the festival may even last for more than a month, depending upon the weather. Established in 1985 as a simple festival, the Ice and Snow Festival has now transformed into an event of international standards.

In other words, this festival is one of the largest as well as unique of its kind in the world. It is one of the four prominent global ice and snow festivals, others being Sapporo Snow Festival of Japan, the Oslo Snow Festival of Norway, and Quebec Winter Carnival of Canada. Further, the festival has utilized the usage of ice as well as snow available in the region at its best. A host of events are conducted during the ice and snow festival, such as, fabulous fireworks display, ice hockey competitions, winter swimming, skiing and speed skating events, football games on expansive snow grounds, poetry jamboree, and ice and snow cinematic festival.

However, the focal point of the festival is Zhaolin Park, located next to the Songhua River, in central Harbin. Named in honor of a general buried in the park, Zhaolin Park contains an array of exquisite sculptures that are carved out from ice. All of the carvings are noted for their exquisite designs, ranging from figures of human, animal, and birds to mythical as well as historic and political characters and figurines of world renowned attractions such as the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower, and Taj Mahal.

Among the highlights of the festival are Sun Island Carving Festival, Ice and Snow World, Harbin Ice Festival, and Ice Lantern Festival. Sun Island Carving Festival allows you to indulge in an array of activities. In the case of Ice and Snow World, it has been acknowledged as the world's ice Disneyland. When comes to the Ice Lantern Art Fair, the events in connection with the festival date back to the period of the Ming and Qing dynasties, which is about 500 years ago.

Al though it was started by hunters of the region during the winter, later in 1963, Harbin's Mayor decided to organize formal competition in order to encourage skilled people to create several artistic works. Several magnificent ice lanterns are displayed during the event, ranging from calligraphy and miniature gardens to waterfalls and flowers.

During the festival, tourists from every nook and corner of the world come here to take part in this unique festival. The prime highlight of the festival is undoubtedly ice sculptor contest, in which talented, professional ice sculptors from across the world take part, among which some work alone while some work in group.

In this contest, the sculptors transform huge blocks of ice into beautiful works of art of different sizes, themes, and shapes. All of these carvings are simply stupendous during the day times. They are even breathtaking during the night when all of them are exquisitely lit with hundreds and thousands of neon lights. In short, the Zhaolin Park becomes truly spectacular due to its unique as well as incredible icy creations.
About the Author
Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts currently owns and manages 54 hotels under Shangri-La and Traders brands with a rooms inventory of over 27,000. Shangri-La hotels are five-star deluxe properties featuring extensive luxury facilities and services.
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