“Guilty as charged”. I have been a bit (or very) lazy with my blog updates. With lots of travel stories in the pipeline, let me try to pick up the pace once again.
You might recall that I went to Harbin for a quick winter getaway last December. Since my first 2 posts on Harbin’s Zhongyang Street and Siberian Tiger Park, many have asked about the Ice and Snow festival which for years has always been the main attraction of people coming to Harbin, China.
So this post is all about that. The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival.
As the name suggests, it is an international event with sculptures and participants from foreign countries though most of the ice and snow sculptures were from the locals. One thing for sure, this festival attracts more visitors each year including growing number of foreign tourists.
This largest ice and snow festival in the world officially starts on 5th January each year, however the doors (and ticket booths unfortunately) are opened in last 2 weeks of December as a “trial run” giving us the opportunity to experience the festival before the official opening date.
The festival is celebrated around Harbin with sculptures every part of the city. However the main sites are known as the Sun Island and the Ice and Snow World. Both require admission to enter and both are mainly outdoor kind of attractions so it was indeed a freezing experience!
We started with the Sun Island.
For an entrance fee of CNY240 (RM150), you get to access this HUGE area (3,800 Hectares) of things to see. It is advisable to go here in daytime and as early as possible to cover as much as you can.
Divided into sections, there are animals section, gardens, exotic Russian series, etc but in winter time we were there to mainly enjoy the snow and the countless ice and snow sculptures.
The challenge was staying outdoor for longer than 30 minutes. We had multiple fleece / wool / thermal layers on but it was still a challenge mainly due to the strong wind.
But it is still worth the pain in the ears, nose, fingers and cameras. The displays were amazing. Big and small, all pure snow.
Experts at work.
On the Ice section. Even cooler displays. Too bad the main slides were not yet open for public.
The coffee shop. I don’t drink coffee but I love this place simply for their heaters!
We ended up not spending too much time at Sun Island due to weather. Factoring the wind factor, it was as cold as -30 degrees Celsius and we left after my camera started to fail and after going around the area on one of the shuttle/trams.
Back from Sun Island, we spent some time at the hotel for DIY lunch and prayers before going out once again. This time to check out the other part of Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival which is the Ice and Snow World.
Ice and Snow World is by far the largest ice and snow art exhibition in the world.
The entrance fee is a killer at CNY300 (RM187) but it is an all-access fee meaning that you could stay as long as you want, provided you could stand the cold.
As we went there during the “trial run” period, the crowd was manageable although the place is big enough to accommodate huge amount of visitors. Once thing I noticed about Harbin’s attractions is that when they build something, they build it huge.
Ice & lights.
Ice & snow.
The best part is that most of the sculptures are accessible and have slides made by ice.
Some of the activities (fees apply).
We spent a good 2-3 hours despite the continuously dropping temperature. I personally like the Ice & Snow World better probably because the sculptures look so nice at night with all the lightings but if you are in Harbin do try to experience both these attractions.
Visiting Harbin’s Ice and snow Festival – Mission accomplished.