China Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, formerly known as Harbin Ice Festival, gained its present name officially in 2001. The event has been held since 1963. During the Cultural Revolution it was interrupted for a number of years, but resumed since 1985. It is held annually from January 5 and lasts for over a month. There is no fixed end date. If sculptures melt, the festival ends. Usually, sculptures start to melt during the middle of February.
It is one of the world's four grandest ice and snow festivals, together with Japan's Sapporo Snow Festival, Canada's Quebec City Winter Carnival, and Norway's Ski Festival.
The activities of the festival are rich and colorful, consisting of several parts and more than 100 activities, such as international ice-snow weddings, the international ice-snow film festival, the international winter-swimming invitational tournament, Asian Ice Hockey League ice-snow sports, ice-snow tourism, ice-snow art, and many other exciting activities. There are many kinds of winter activity competitions, such as Yabuli alpine skiing, winter-swimming in the Songhua River, speed skating, a snow pitch football game and Ice Sculpture competition.
What can I do if I go there in mid-December?
Before opening time, all the attractions listed above are closed to visitors (except Central Street) due to the production of the ice and snow sculptures. Visitors are not allowed to see the process of making ice sculptures. You can visit Central Street, Siberian Tiger Park and the ski resorts.