Eyewitness the astonishing ice-masterpieces at Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, one of the biggest Ice Festivals in the world. The festival opens its doors in late December and closes until February.
The official grand opening takes place on January 5’Th with a stunning and must see fireworks show, even though there are competitions and shows from December 17.
These impressive ice-sculptures designed the festival’s theme “Happy Ice Snow, Exciting City,”. They are sculpted arduously by workers and sculptures creating magical creations forming an architectural wonderland.
At night time you can witness the colourful lights in the ice and snow city. It is truly a magnificent experience for every age. The festival ice shows, street fairs, and endless winter activities makes it an eventful winter holiday!
HARBIN ICE AND SNOW FESTIVAL TOP ACTIVITIES
Harbin Ice and Show World
You will be amazed by the spectacular ice buildings, ice bar, and ice hotel inside the park. There are a huge variety of winter sports activities throughout such as ice-skating, sliding, ice golf, among others. You can also enjoy special performances usually centered on the festival theme, a perfect break from the sport’s adrenaline.
The Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Expo
Held at the Sun Island, this exposition is worth seeing at daylight to appreciate all the detail that went on to make these one of a kind art pieces. You will be pleasantly shocked to see innovative pieces full of magic.
The Ice lantern Fair is a beautiful fair at the Zhaolin Park
Contains the most spectacular ice sculptures, which can be best appreciate at night as they come up to life. Their unique multicolored lights lit against the dark sky transporting you to a supernatural dimension.
OTHER MAIN HARBIN ATTRACTIONS
Luckily for everyone the whole Harbin town joins the festivity, therefore, you can enjoy several attractions at different locations such as; Songhua River Tourist Area, Stalin Park, Bliss temple, The Mosque, St. Sofia Church, Siberian tiger Park, China’s Snow town, Erlongshan Ski Resort, among others.
You will have enduring memories of this magical festival surrounded by the most beautiful ice sculptures. It will take your breath away as an experience that images cannot fully transmit.
The Harbiners had a local ice and lantern show in winter originated from the 20th century. It became a worldwide event after investments in the early 1980’s.
Harbin Ice And Snow Festival Tips
1# Thermal Clothing
Bring your thermal clothing; the temperatures during the festival can drop to minus 23 and an average high of minus 15.
2# Touchscreen Winter Gloves
Wear touchscreen winter gloves so you can take several pictures without having to take your gloves off.
Where is the festival located?
It happens in Harbin, the capital city of the Heilongjiang Province, the most north-eastern part of China and bordering with Russia.
It is the perfect place for the festivity since during the winter months the temperature can drop as low as -22°F (-30°C) allowing the snow carvings to stay intact for several weeks and success with its winter activities such as Yabuli alpine skiing and winter-swimming.
No surprise Harbin is one of the biggest winter destinations attracting around 15,000 people every year ready to submerge themselves into the winter fun.
Aside from the ice festival, Harbin has some world-class attractions and sites. This city has influences from other cultures and therefore has an impressive mix of architecture.
Furthermore, its northern location in close proximity to Siberia provides visitors with a unique chance to see a world full of ice and snow. We have selected three epic attractions that will make your winter expedition that much more exciting:
Admire the impressive St. Sophia Church
Surrounded by towering skyscrapers and modern architecture, the Church of St. Sophia is a curiosity and stands out against the skyline. This Orthodox church is actually the largest in China and was constructed by Russian troops during the start of the 20th century.
Its façade is typical of Russian designs from this era and it is crowned with a series of immense turquoise domes. The interior is just as impressive with an array of ornate decoration and artwork.
Explore the fascinating Siberian Tiger Park
For those who love wildlife and nature, the Siberian Tiger Park is an absolute must. Where else in the world could you see White Tigers, Lynx, Snow Leopards and Bengali Tigers?
The park is expansive and the animals have huge enclosures to roam in. It is possible to take guided tours of the park in a safari-style bus to give you an up-close and personal experience with these magnificent animals.
Can you imagine witnessing the beauty of the White Tigers whilst surrounded by the bleak and rugged landscape of Harbin?
Climb to the top of the Dragon Tower to see the Harbin skyline at night
Also known as Long Ta, the Dragon Tower is a multi-purpose structure that towers above the skyline of Harbin. This steel construct is one of the tallest free-standing lattice towers in the world and is a wonderful site to behold.
If you want to see what the expansive skyline of Harbin looks like at night, we suggest heading to the observation deck and walking around the whole circumference! Furthermore, why not enjoy an evening meal in the panoramic restaurant and dine in style?
Where to Stay?
There are several hotels, apartments, inns, and hostels in Harbin at every budget.
If you are looking for more of a traditional style you can find hotels combining classic European architecture with a touch of Chinese culture, a great option still offering all the commodities of the 21st century.
Despite Harbin’s relative isolation in the northern regions of China, it has a fantastic array of world-class hotels and accommodation. Furthermore, hotel prices are generally cheap – even during the ice festival, you will still pay less than an equivalent hotel in Beijing or Shanghai for example.
For the most part, hotels are located in the residential districts on the southern banks of the Songhua River – there are a handful of hotels in northern Harbin, but for access to the ice festival, we recommend staying in the south.
To help plan your Harbin adventure we have selected three superb accommodation choices from Booking.com:
Finally, we have the cheap and cheerful Holiday Inn City, Centre Harbin. This charming hotel can be found in the Longitude and Latitude residential district and has great transport links.
As with most hotels in Harbin, the Holiday Inn features a superb standard of quality for little expense. The rooms are modern, clean and comfortable, and the hotel benefits from its own restaurant and free Wifi.
Therefore, jump into one of the greatest winter destinations and book your dream accommodations soon to lock the best prices.
Compare Deals with these other sites:
Where to Eat?
There are several savory places in Harbin to take a break from the cold and enjoy a delicious warm meal.
In the famous central street Zhongyan Dajie, you can delight your palate at Orient King of dumplings, which variety range from pork and pickled cabbage and shrimp and mushroom dumplings so delicious you will want to try the approximately 20 different kinds.
In addition, as a result of Harbin’s strong Russian heritage you can enjoy delicious Russian cuisine like at Café Russia.
The menu includes the traditional Borsch soup made out of beet with sour cream and a great selection of meat dishes and salads. No doubt you will feel like royalty with the abundant big flavor dishes.
How to Get There?
Harbin Taiping International Airport is actually located 35km to the west of the city next to the small service town of Taipingzhen. Due to the popularity of the ice festival, the airport is undergoing expansion to cope with a greater influx of passengers and cargo.
In all likelihood, you will travel to Harbin via a connecting flight from one of the other major Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou.
It is possible to fly from Russia, Singapore and Malaysia too. Airlines servicing Harbin International include Air China, Grand Air China, Scoot, Shenzen Airlines, West Air and XiamenAir.
From the Airport
To travel from the airport into central Harbin we advise taking a shuttle bus. The airport operates four different shuttle bus lines; each of which operates at frequent intervals and service the city.
A shuttle bus journey into central Harbin typically costs 20 Chinese Yuan (approximately 2-3 Euro) and is the cheapest and most efficient option available. It is also possible to take a taxi but anywhere between 120-150 Yuan and the service can be unpredictable.
Travelling around Harbin
As with many large cities in China, Harbin is expansive but well organised – the city is divided into clear districts, each of which has a purpose (such as the healthcare district and the quiet residential district).
Due to the well organization, navigating the city isn’t as difficult as you would expect.
The Harbin subway line is a popular option for travel within the city but the network is still underdeveloped.
There are currently only two lines that mainly service the south and east railway stations – if you are travelling to Harbin by rail, the subway would be a great choice to reach the residential areas.
The best way to travel around Harbin, however, is by taxi – the city is serviced by over 14,000 taxis and the rates are cheap.
For the first 3km of your journey, the cost is just 8 Chinese Yuan (1 Euro), after that, a flat rate of 1.9 Yuan applies for every additional km. In short, you could travel 10km within Harbin for as little as 2.5 Euros – not bad at all! Just be wary during rush hour as taxis can be hard to flag down.
The Ferries to Sun Island
Finally, to travel to Sun Island and experience the Ice Festival, we recommend using one of the six ferries that traverse the river between the hours of 08:00 am – 17:00 pm. The main ferry terminal can be found at Jiuzhan Park in the engineering district of Harbin.
Do you want to experience the area first hand? Hire a car with our search engine
Harbin Ice Festival History
The festivals originated in 1963 with a magnificent ice lantern show and garden party, unfortunately, it was interrupted in 1966 due to the Cultural Revolution and resumed in 1985.
Since then the multicolored light snow show has being pushing the envelope with their monumental ice sculptures with different architecture styles including mythical creatures, famous monuments and much more. In addition, the winter recreation activities are available throughout the festivities intensifying the majestic winter adrenaline.