There is something about a white canvas & plain papers that instigate creativity and ask you to create something… The same goes for snow and ice! For those looking for a phenomenal experience that will inspire you; look no further than Harbin in our neighbouring country China!
The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is a sight that will leave you awestruck. Hosted each year in the months of January, February and March, it officially ends on Feb 5 but is extended if weather permits. Spread throughout the city are ice sculptures that will leave you mesmerized, however the primary two exhibitions are as follows –
1) The Sun Island situated on the opposite bank of the Songhua River from the city. Be prepared to be dazzled with gigantic ice sculptures in this recreational area.
2) The Ice and Snow World, open during night, exhibits life size buildings made of snow blocks taken directly from the Songhua River.
The festival originated back in 1963 as a part of the annual Harbin’s traditional ice lantern show and garden party. What’s more, the city of Harbin has a lot more to offer to winter and snow lovers! One could enjoy the winters here to the maximum with ice lantern park touring activities, Yabuli alpine skiing, winter-swimming in the Songhua River, and the ice-lantern exhibition in Zhaolin Garden.
Architecture connoisseurs would enjoy a walk down the Zhongyang Street of Harbin as they take in the beautiful combination of Chinese and European architecture present in a few of the buildings that have survived the Cultural Revolution and are now protected and in some cases restored by the government.
The Saint Sofia Orthodox Cathedral is one such building which still stands tall and is one of the most magnificent structures in Harbin. Built in 1907, this church was turned into a museum showcasing the history of Harbin in 1997.
Be it the adventures of the winter wonderland, the artistic exhibits or the walk down in Harbin’s history, a visit to this city would surely be memorable for one and all.