by Meera Dolasia
Being famous for having one of the most bitter winters in China and most likely the world does not sound like a good way to market a city. However, it works for Harbin. That’s because for the residents of the capital of China’s Heilongjiang Province it means a chance to stage a spectacular winter festival.
The annual Harbin Ice and Snow Festival whose origins can be traced to a simple garden show started by city residents in 1963 is today world renowned for its fabulous snow and ice structures. The official opening is not until the first week of January. However, work begins in earnest in late December when sculptors and artists from all over the world descend on the region. Using ice pickers, lasers, and chisels, they carve out large chunks of ice from the nearby frozen Songhua River and haul them to the festival grounds. Though the carvings are mostly inspired by Chinese fairy tales and myths, they do have an international influence as well.
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