Harbin, the winter wonderland

04/14/2020 12:41 AM By Carrie Liu

The largest winter festival in the world

I would like to share a trivial with you. I was born and raised in Harbin, the capital city of Heilongjiang province, in Northern China. Harbin and Edmonton are the twin sister cities. Each city named a street after the other city to symbolize the friendship. The city of Harbin named a major street called Edmonton. The city of Edmonton also named a street called Harbin, around the Public Library in downtown Edmonton. 

The Harbin International Ice and Snow festival (Chinese哈尔滨国际冰雪节) is an annual winter festival that takes place with a theme in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China is now the largest ice and snow festival in the world. My dad used to take me to the ice park in the evening every year and the wonderland during the day every winter when I was a kid. The winter festival used to have three parks in three different locations: ice sculptures, snow sculptures, and winter wonderland (a large playground on the frozen river). Harbin has a cold winter and the crew took the blocks of 2-3' thick ice out of the frozen Songhua River to make beautiful ice sculptures. The ice sculptures and the snow sculptures involved into an international festival and competition over the years. 

As a winter tradition, my dad used to take me to the ice sculpture park in the evening and I admired the illuminated full sized building as a kid. I love to see the colourful illuminated ice sculptures and ice buildings. The various colour of lights were inserted in the ice blocks and the park is illuminated with lights in the evenings. As a kid, I could not tell if I liked winter better than summer. It was my family's tradition to enjoy the ice cream after visiting the ice sculpture in the evening. It was a treat for me. 

Park visitors go to the ice sculpture park in the evenings when the lights are illuminated. My dad also took me to the winter wonderland as a kid and we played different games utilizing the ice on the frozen river. 

At first participants in the festival were mainly Chinese, however it has since become an international festival and competition, with the 2018 festival attracting 18 million visitors.

Officially, the festival starts on January 5 and lasts at least one month weather permitting. Each year the park has to be rebuilt with newly designed ice buildings and snow and ice sculptures. In recent years, the park has been as large as 80 hectares.

This picture was taken when my family and relatives visited the snow sculpture park on January 1st, 2015.
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