Harbin Ice Festival is celebrated annually on January 5 and continues till the end of February. It is regarded as the largest ice and snow festival in the world. Although when it started, it consisted mainly of Chinese people, it is now an internationally celebrated festival and competition, attracting tourists from all over the world. The festival takes place in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China. Siberian Russia is only a few hours to the north of this city which is the reason for the frigid weather. The average temperature during winter in Harbin is 1.8°Fwith lows dropping as much as -36.6°F. This arctic climate accounts for the reason this festival operates functionally for such an extended period. Harbin is known as “Ice City” for having the longest and coldest winter in China.
History of Harbin Ice Festival
The festival has its origins in Harbin’s traditional ice lantern show which started during the winter of 1963. It didn’t originally start as a festival as it was seen more like a garden party. The event was temporarily put on hold during the Cultural Revolution by Mao Zedong which started around 1966 and lasted until 1976 when Mao died.
Officials of the Propaganda Department of the Harbin Municipal Party Committee got the idea of a festival in 1983 when the lantern show was held to the admiration and praise of Hong Kong and Macau officials. The officials approached Harbin Municipal Party Committee with the suggestion of making it into a festival by October of that same year. The suggestion was submitted to the Heilongjiang Provincial Party Committee and was subsequently approved after a year of unrelenting efforts.
The first Harbin Ice Festival was thus held with a grand ceremony at Zhaolin Park on January 5, 1985, and was announced as an event that would be held annually. In 2001, Harbin Ice Festival was celebrated alongside Heilongjiang International Ski Festival and got its new name, China Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. It is still known however as the Harbin Ice Festival for simplicity.
Harbin Ice Festival timeline
The foundation of the festival starts as an ice lantern event.
Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution put the ice lantern event on hold until he died in 1976.
Officials of the Propaganda Department of the Harbin Municipal Party committee get the idea of a festival.
The festival is celebrated for the first time.
Harbin Ice Festival merges with Heilongjiang International Ski Festival to become China Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival.
Harbin Ice Festival FAQs
Why does Harbin have a Russian touch?
During the Russian revolution in 1917, some Russians streamed into Harbin to flee the Bolsheviks and have remained there till this day, influencing the city’s architecture and feel.
Do the sculptors do all the work?
Over 10,000 workmen are involved in the festival, helping to extract the ice from the Songhua River and also construct the colorful ice Disneyland.
What should I wear in Harbin?
In winter, it is necessary to wear woolen pants, down jackets, snow boots, scarves, hats, gloves, and a mask to protect your nose.
How to Observe Harbin Ice Festival
What better way to celebrate Harbin Ice Festival than to visit the city where it is all happening? Take a visit to Harbin in China and experience a world made of ice.
Participate in events
There are lots of events to participate in and enjoy during this period. If you can’t make the trip, participate online.
Use the hashtag
Let everyone know what’s going on. Post a link to our article online and don't forget to use the hashtag #harbinicefestival.
5 Interesting Facts About Harbin
The world's largest ice sculpture
Harbin Ice Festival featured the world's largest snow sculpture by the Guinness World Records named “Romantic Feelings" in 2007.
A huge tourist attraction
According to statistics from the 2018 edition, Ice Festivals such as Harbin's were said to have attracted over 18 million visitors.
The ice origin
The majority of the Harbin ice comes from the Tsinghua River which is the seventh longest river in China.
A world of culinary expertise
Harbin showcases plenty of edible dishes such as celery pork, San Jian, yummy dumplings, almond slices, etc.
Largest amusement park of ice
Harbin is home to the world's largest amusement park of ice and snow with an area of 60,000 square meters.
Why Harbin Ice Festival is Important
It’s a celebration of culture
The Harbin Ice Festival was passed down by the great ancestors who thought it unwise to allow the ice beauty of Harbin to go to waste. We must continue to enjoy and appreciate it as a celebration of culture.
It celebrates creativity and beauty
The Harbin Ice Festival brings together the finest ice sculptors the world has to offer, as they compete to awe us with their beautiful ice creations. We celebrate the creative efforts of these intelligent and talented people.
We love to have fun!
Activities such as ice dancing, ice skating, visiting the Ice And Snow World, and so on make the Harbin ice festival fun-packed. We do not want to miss out on any of the fun activities!
Harbin Ice Festival dates