Lonely Planet Writer

Get a first glimpse at the amazing sculptures at this year’s Harbin Ice Festival in China

Work has begun on the incredible ice and snow sculptures that draw in throngs of visitors each year to the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in China.

Artists carve the 103-meter-long snow sculpture 'Long Song' for the 29th Harbin International Snow Sculpture Art Expo at Sun Island on December 13, 2016 in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province of China. The 103-meter-long, 31-meter-tall snow sculpture 'Long Song' welcomes tourists at the 29th Harbin International Snow Sculpture Art Expo which will official open on Dec 20.
Artists carve the 103-metre-long snow sculpture ‘Long Song’ for the 29th Harbin International Snow Sculpture Art Expo at Sun Island in Harbin. Image by VCG/VCG via Getty Images

The annual festival, held in Harbin, in the north-eastern Heilongjiang province of China, is filled with intricately detailed ice and snow sculptures that are lit up with brightly coloured lasers and lanterns at night. There are different parts of the festival, the Harbin Ice lantern Art Fair, Harbin Ice and Snow World, and the Harbin Ice Festival, held in a variety of areas including Zhāolín Park and Sun Island Park. The Ice and Snow World officially opens on 20 December, and the Harbin Ice Festival opens on 5 January.

Chinese workers carve a large snow sculpture for the 29th Harbin Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Expo in Harbin on December 13, 2016 in Harbin, China.
Chinese workers carve a large snow sculpture for the 29th Harbin Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Expo in Harbin on December 13, 2016 in Harbin, China. Image by Tao Zhang/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The festival is the city’s main tourist attraction, drawing in visitors from all around China and the world to experience the best of winter through the beauty of the ice and snow creations. While the temperatures are freezing – it can be as low as -35 C – the chilly weather means the festival stretches on until mid-February.

Chinese workers carve a large snow sculpture for the 29th Harbin Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Expo in Harbin on December 13, 2016 in Harbin, China.
Chinese workers carve a large snow sculpture for the 29th Harbin Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Expo in Harbin on December 13, 2016 in Harbin, China. Image by Tao Zhang/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Thousands of sculptures are made, complete with recreations of famous attractions around the world, and many of them in record-breaking size.

 Artists carve the 103-meter-long snow sculpture 'Long Song' for the 29th Harbin International Snow Sculpture Art Expo at Sun Island on December 13, 2016 in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province of China. The 103-meter-long, 31-meter-tall snow sculpture 'Long Song' welcomes tourists at the 29th Harbin International Snow Sculpture Art Expo which will official open on Dec 20.
Artists carve the 103-metre-long snow sculpture ‘Long Song’ for the 29th Harbin International Snow Sculpture Art Expo at Sun Island on December 13, 2016 in Harbin. Image by VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Artists are currently working on the 103-metre-long, 31-metre-tall snow sculpture ‘Long Song’ which will welcome tourists this year’s event.