Harbin Ice-and-Snow World Festival

14:43, December 21, 2009      

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Harbin Ice-and-Snow World Festival, with its world-famous frozen sculptures, officially kicks off on January 5, 2010. However, those who can't wait can go as early as December 24, when the park opens to visitors "for testing", according to Sun Jiaju of the Harbin tourism bureau. "To be honest, they have to be concerned about their profits, so the earlier they open, the better. All the ice and snow sculptures have already been moved in," Sun said. The festival continues through the end of March when the last of the snow melts.

The festival started in the 1960s, took a little time off for the Cultural Revolution, and resumed in 1985. According to Sun, the ice-and-snow festival "has been called one of the four greatest," sharing the prestige with the Quebec Winter Carnival (Canada) and snow festivals in Sapporo, Japan, and Oslo, Norway.

Famous Chinese singers, actor John O'Hurley, NBA star Mitch Richmond, and even Mariah Carey are all invited to the opening ceremony at the Harbin International Exhibition and Sports Center. However, less than a month away, and tickets to the opening ceremony are not yet on sale, nor could anyone give an idea on ticket prices.

Ice sculpting competitions will take place in Zhaolin Park, while snow sculptures will go up in the Sun Island Scenic Zone, according to Sun.

Zhaolin Park

The 36th Ice Lantern Art Exhibition runs from December 20 to March 1, 2010, while the 24th International Ice Sculpture Race takes place from January 6 to 8. Additional national ice sculpture competitions are also scheduled throughout January.

Daily time: 5 am – 6:30 pm

Tickets: 30 yuan

How to get there: Take bus No. 101 or 103 from Harbin Railway Station to Zhaolin Park Station.
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