As we speak, a city in China has temporarily turned into the kind of winter wonderland that dreams are made of. Harbin, China, is the capital and largest city of the Heilongjiang province is and it is right this very second hosting the 31st Annual Harbin Ice & Snow Festival. Social media has fully fallen for this desktop background-worthy festival, with pix from the fest nestling safely into the jaw-dropping category.
The Festival, which runs from January 5 – February 28, is famous for its wildly detailed ice sculptures, plus its enormous ice replicas of global landmarks. This year, the Festival’s theme is “Ice Snow Harbin, Charming China Dream,” and photos from the fest itself are nothing if not a charming China Dream.
To get a little background going, the Festival started in 1963 with the traditional ice lantern party and grew from there. In 2001, it merged with another regional winter festival, the Heilongjiang International Ski Festival. Since then, it’s become a seriously global phenomenon, attracting millions of tourists to celebrate the season. The icing on this ice festival cake are the snow sculptures, which typically run two stories tall.
The other main attraction at the festival, Ice and Snow World, opens at nightfall, and features ginormous sculptures of buildings that are illuminated in rainbow-bright colors. These bigger-than-life sculptures are made of blocks of ice carved from the frozen nearby river. Tons of tourists visit Harbin just for the festival, but apparently even larger crowds gather in the below-freezing temps (the high is 18 today) just to see these glowing buildings. With the sculptures illuminated from the inside, it literally looks likea fairyland.
This festival is a super-impressive display of local culture, but on a global scale it’s also a really inspiring way to turn something that can be a bummer (freezing weather and tons of precipitation) into something pretty wonderful. Ready to go to Harbin now? Yeah, me too.