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Harbin: City of Ice

Take a snowy train journey from Beijing across 1,200 kilometres of frozen northern China and you’ll eventually arrive in Harbin, capital of China’s northernmost province Heilongjiang. Its location is somewhat bleak, flanked as it is by Inner Mongolia, Siberia and, erm, North Korea and its climate is one of the harshest in Asia with winter tempertaures dropping to -30ºc and beyond.

So why would anyone make the journey up here?  Well, apart from the attractive Russian architecture and laid-back European vibe, every winter Harbin plays host to an incredible ice sculpture festival.  Now in its seventeenth year, the festival has grown to become the biggest of its kind in the world, surpassing similar events in Norway and Canada. Each year takes a different theme – in 2016 it was The Silk Road – and sculptors from around the world travel to Harbin to exhibit their work, the result being a spectacular, beautiful city crafted entirely from ice.

The centrepiece of the exhibition: Moscow’s Red Square crafted from ice

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The festival is interactive; visitors can hire sleds, ride in carriages drawn by reindeer or shoot down one of the many large ice slides

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Keeping warm: temperatures can drop to -30ºc or more during the festival
Award-winning ice sculpture
Sweet treats to enjoy s you walk around the exhibition; another big favourite is ice cream (presumably it tastes warm when the temperature is 30 degrees below!)
With its strong European influence Harbin is one Chinese city where people don’t seem afraid to bend the rules, just a little bit…

©Square Lamb 2016.  All rights reserved.

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