Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival - China's ice spectacular
Each year in the heart of winter, Harbin, one of China's coldest city, is home to thousands of ice sculptures that attract millions of sightseers from all over the world. Some of these ice sculptures have been created by locals for fun, but the majority are made by professional ice sculptors especially for the celebrated Harbin Ice Festival.
Harbin Ice Festival, one of the four largest ice festivals in the world, officially starts on January 5 every year and lasts for a month, sometimes longer if the weather permits! Typically, the festival consists of two large, separate parks with different themes - one full of exquisitely designed sculptures of living and mythical creatures, including such traditional and exotic elements as dragons, phoenix, fairies, and even a sphinx. The other has towering ice buildings, some over 3 floors high, which visitors can walk through and play in.
Stairs and an ice castle on top of a hill being toured by enthusiastic visitors.
The famous Taj Mahal of India - completely sculpted out of ice!
The ice blocks used for the sculptures are cut from the frozen surface of the Songhua River near Harbin, in China's far northeastern Heilongjiang province, and various kinds of saws are then used to shape the ice blocks into recognizable and intriguely designed sculptures. To add the finishing touch, multicolored laser lights are used to "bring the sculptures to life," and resulting in a truly breathtaking display.