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January5–February 28

Harbin Ice Festival – January 5-February 28, 2024

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 Harbin Ice Lantern Show Begins

The foundation of the festival starts as an ice lantern event.

The Show is Put on Hold

Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution put the ice lantern event on hold until he died in 1976.

The Idea for a Festival is Birthed

Officials of the Propaganda Department of the Harbin Municipal Party committee get the idea of a festival.

Harbin Ice Festival Begins

The festival is celebrated for the first time.

Two Festivals are Merged

Harbin Ice Festival merges with Heilongjiang International Ski Festival to become China Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival.

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