Lonely Planet Writer

In pictures: travel to a winter wonderland at the Harbin Ice and Snow festival in China

For travellers looking to embrace the joys of winter, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in China has begun in a celebration of all things snowy and cold. 

An aerial view of structures built of ice in the Ice and Snow World on December 31.
An aerial view of structures built of ice in the Ice and Snow World on December 31. Image by Feature China / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The annual festival, which runs until the end of February, drew in more than one million visitors last year.

Tourists visit ice sculptures illuminated by coloured lights.
Tourists visit ice sculptures illuminated by coloured lights. Image by VCG/VCG via Getty Images

The ice festival officially opened last week, and has been attracting tourists to the city in the north-eastern Heilongjiang province of China.

People visit ice sculptures illuminated by coloured lights at the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival to celebrate the new year in Harbin on January 4.
People visit ice sculptures illuminated by coloured lights at the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival to celebrate the new year in Harbin on January 4. Image by NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images
People visit the ice sculptures illuminated by coloured lights.
People visit the ice sculptures illuminated by coloured lights. Image by Tao Zhang/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The festival brings together thousands of sculptures, which are illuminated at night to turn the place into a kaleidoscopic winter wonderland.

Tourists visit ice sculptures illuminated by coloured lights during the opening ceremony of the 18th Harbin Ice And Snow World as part of the 33rd Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival on January 5.
Tourists visit ice sculptures illuminated by coloured lights during the opening ceremony of the 18th Harbin Ice And Snow World as part of the 33rd Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival on January 5. Image by VCG/VCG via Getty Images
Tourists visit Harbin Ice and Snow World, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.
Tourists visit Harbin Ice and Snow World, northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province. Image by Xinhua/Wang Jianwei via Getty Images

However, visitors will have to be ready to truly embrace the winter – the forecast for this week in Harbin calls for low temperatures of -28C and highs of only -11C.

Tourists visit ice sculptures illuminated by coloured lights.
Tourists visit ice sculptures illuminated by coloured lights. Image by VCG/VCG via Getty Images