Harbin Ice Lantern Festival China 2013
When it happens: January to February(Expected to start from January 5th 2013)
Where it happens: Heilongjiang Province, China
The most north-easterly portion of the Chinese mainland is right on the Russian border, which means that its climate is not that far off from frigid Siberia. Winters are unusually long even by northern hemisphere standards, which last six months. Understandably, with the province covered in ice for half of the year, some art forms and entertainment has to revolve around ice and snow.
Twenty five years ago, ingenious residents carved out blocks of ice to use as lanterns. This started a tradition of transforming into art what nature has to offer, and incorporate it as an integral way of life worthy of celebrating. Today, we know this event as Harbin Ice Lantern Festival China 2013.
About the Event:
The Harbin Ice Lantern Festival China 2013, or Haerbin Bingdengjie, is one of the world’s largest ice festivals: The other three are Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival, Quebec’s Winter Carnival, and Norway’s Ski Festival. But the Chinese version is unique in itself because Harbin denizens in Heilongjiang carve out ice sculptures that rival their city structures.
Ice sculptors chisel gigantic blocks of ice from the Songhua River and transform them into a glowing and glittering Winter Wonderland. The scale, intricacy and immensity of creations leave audiences exhilarated and dazzled, and if they are a sight to behold in daylight, they are a vision to gaze at at night. Harbin artists and ice sculptors from around the world create a crystalline fairyland dotted with palaces and pagodas, mythical creatures, familiar landmarks and famous figures, and in keeping with Chinese religious beliefs, giant Buddhas. These translucent sculptures are then lit from the inside with neon lights of electric blue, bubblegum pink and other surreal colors that transform Zhaolin Park into an otherworldly abode of the snow fairies.
During the two-month festival which kicks off on January 5 and ends in February 28, there will be Snow Sculpture Expo, Ice Lantern Garden Party, skiing contests, football matches on the snow-covered permafrost, figure skating competitions, theatrical performances, and winter swimming in the Songhua River, a feat that should only be performed by the stoutest of hearts.
Harbin denizens also make good use of the tourist arrivals and coincide other cultural activities during this period, which include something as serious as economic talks in a festival as frivolous as ice.
Temperatures are downright frigid during winter in Harbin, and they can drop to as low as -30 degrees Celsius (which makes the ice very stable despite application of constant pressure). Make sure to pack up layers of clothing to warm you up and keep you comfortable on your outdoor forays at night.
The Harbin Ice Lantern Festival China 2013 is an opportunity for young-at-heart travelers to live their dream fantasies in a realistic setting.