Harbin International Ice Festival
The Harbin Ice Festival,started in 1985，is held annually from January 5 and lasts for over one month. Harbin is the capital city of Heilongjiang Province and this is China's original and greatest ice artwork festival，attracting hundreds of thousands of local people and visitors from all over the world.
The city's location in northeast China accounts for its arctic climate which provides abundant natural ice and snow. Subsequently，the“Ice City" of Harbin is recognized as the cradle of ice and snow art in China and is famous for its exquisite and artistic ice and snow sculptures. The fabulous Ice Lantern Festival was the forerunner of the current festival and is still the best beloved part of the overall event in the opinion of all who come to Harbin each year.
The first Ice lanterns were a winter-time tradition in northeast China. People made ice lanterns and put them outside their houses or gave them to children to play with during some of the traditional festivals. Thus the ice lantern began its long history of development. With novel changes and immense advancement in techniques，today we can marvel at the various delicate and artistic ice lanterns on display.
Nowadays，ice lantern in broad sense refers to a series of plastic arts using ice and snow as raw material combining ice artworks with colored lights and splend music. The specific patterns of ice lantern include ice and snow sculptures，ice flowers .ice architectures and so on.
Harbin Ice Festival provides the visitors each year a whole new world of ice snow. The best collections of ice artworks are exhibited in three main places: the Sun Island Park，Harbin Ice and Snow World ,and Zhaolin Park.
Today，Harbin Ice Festival is not only an exposition of ice and snow art，but also an annual cultural event for international exchange. Every year，there are many ice sculpture experts，artists and fans from America，Canada，Japan，Singapore，Russia，China，etc. gathering in Harbin to participate ice sculpting competitions and to communicate with each other in the ice and snow world. Also,Harbin ice lanterns have been exhibited in most of China's main cities as well as in many countries in Asia，Europe，North America，Africa and Oceania. For more than 40 years，Harbin's natural resource of ice and snow has been fully explored to provide joy and fun for visitors to the city. Now during the festival，many sporting competitions are also popular including ice-skating，sledding and so on. Weddings，parties and other entertainments are now very much a feature of this ice world .adding their own contribution to the celebrations of this great festival of art，culture，sports and tourism.
Harbin Ice and Snow World
First set-up by the Harbin Municipal Government in 1999，Harbin Ice and Snow World is by far the largest ice and snow art exhibition in the world. It is commonly referred to as possessing four of the key“mosts”:the most art attractions . the most beautiful night views，the most recreational activities and the most forms of entertainment. Furthermore，the festival is constantly evolving and each year brings with it a new theme，providing visitors with a totally unique experience from one year to the next.
The ice carvings at the Harbin Ice and Snow World are regarded as some of the world's finest examples of ice art，with visitors able to admire some of the largest and most majestic ice-sculpted masterpieces. Each of these ice carvings are designed in some way related to the festival's theme，enabling travelers to sample a variety of cultural flavors. For example，in its first year the festival's layout was designed around the idea of“Prosperous China and High-flying Longjiang”，with the ice carvings depicting the rapid development of the country. In 2005，the theme was“Friendship between China and Russia"，with all the sculptures fashioned in a typical Russian style. Among them were replicas of some of Russia's most famous architecture，such as the East Palace，and Moscow's Red Square.
One of the highlights for any visitor to the festival is to visit the site at night when multicolored lights set underground illuminate the sculptures，revealing a whole new colorful dimension to the exhibits. The contrasts of the bright and dazzling lights against the dark night sky make the works look all the more spectacular.
Harbin Ice and Snow World is also a centre for various forms of recreation and entertainment，with a variety of opportunities on offer. Visitors will be amazed by the magnificent ice buildings，including an ice maze，ice bar，and even an ice hotel. If you are a fan of snow sports，then there is also the chance to participate in activities such as ice rock-climbing，skating，skiing，sliding，snow fights，ice golf， and ice archery. in addition to all this，special performances based on the festival theme are put on throughout the event which will no doubt greatly entertain those in search of something a little less physically-demanding.
Understandably，the best time to travel to Harbin is during the winter. The Harbin Ice Festival is held either in late December or in early January，and for those who dream of a proper winter experience，Harbin Ice and Snow World is the place to make those dreams become a reality.