Harbin, China is considered to be one of the coldest places on Earth. It’s a superlative the city’s 5 million residents don’t take lightly. In fact, for the last 36 years, the community has embraced its frigid identity and invited people from around the globe to experience it for themselves with its famed International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival.
Billed as the world’s largest winter festival, the ice and snow sculpture festival is truly a sight to behold. The festival, which kicks off each year on Jan. 5, typically stays up for several months, allowing millions of curious travelers to pass through.
According to China Highlights, the festival attracts up to 15 million visitors annually. While it may seem like a lot of people, it’s okay, as the entire sculpture show takes over a massive 600,000-square-meter space. The tallest sculpture in the display touches the sky at a whopping 150 feet.
And, to complete all this art, some 10,000 workers are brought in to cut, haul, and sculpt the ice.
The event, first celebrated in 1985 and inspired by Heilongjiang's traditional lanterns, is made up of three different venues. Those venues, China Highlights explains, are the Zhaolin Park Ice Lantern Festival venue, the Ice and Snow World venue, and the snow sculptures on Sun Island.
Sun Island displays all the daytime snow sculptures while the other two areas display sculptures meant to be viewed in the evening when they are lit up with colorful displays and truly come to life. Entrance to the event costs about $48, however, CNN reported there are many free events to take advantage of around town, too.
If you’re planning to visit the park this winter you may want to act fast. According to The Washington Post, it’s expected to be warmer than usual in the region over the next few weeks, with temperatures in the teens during the day and hitting just below zero at night. So maybe only pack one pair of mittens instead of two.