HARBIN, China – With waterways turned into skating rinks and sculptures made out of ice blocks dazzling Harbin on Friday, the city in the far northeast of China was set to warmly welcome thousands of visitors expected to descend on the latest edition of the winter festival.
The winter carnival, one of the biggest in the world, begins on Saturday and would continue for about three months in a city where average temperatures can drop to -16 degrees Celsius (3 degrees Fahrenheit).
The city in Heilongjiang Province hosts the International Ice and Snow Festival every year, offering icy sights for its visitors. This year will mark the 35th edition of the festival.
The creators have used some 120,000 cubic meters (4.2 million cubic feet) of ice and 111,000 cubic meters of snow to build the Harbin Ice and Snow World, an efe-epa journalist visiting the festival reported.
Among the star attractions are large scale ice and snow sculptures shining bright with spectacular illuminations.
Even more striking is a crystal-clear castle carved from ice blocks and lit with multi-color florescent illuminations.
According to a website for the event, the Harbin Ice and Snow World has 100 landmark attractions spanned over more than 600,000 square meters to offer to its visitors.
On display are also works by 64 sculptors from 12 different countries, who competed in an annual competition ahead of the festival.
The festival first began on Jan. 5, 1985 and is said to have been inspired by Heilongjiang’s traditional lanterns, carved out of ice and illuminated by candles.
It now ranks at par with Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan, Canada’s Quebec Winter Carnival and Norway’s Holmenkollen Ski Festival.