Since 1963, the city’s beautiful Zhaolin Park has been hosting the Harbin Ice Lantern Show – one of the world’s three ice art wonders alongside Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival and Canada’s Quebec City Winter Carnival – interrupted for a number of years due to China’s Cultural Revolution.

The festival’s artistic blend of ice (the medium) and lantern (the soul) makes use of hi-tech and high art to erect impressive structures ranging from crystal palaces and pavilions to towers and bridges. Certain techniques lend the snow a transparent sheen – for delicate translucency and reflections in daylight and graceful illuminations at night.


As part of the festival, Harbin also hosts related events like a snow sculptures park fair, an international ice and snow sculpture competition, as well as winter swimming, ice sailing, speed skating, mountain skiing, and cross-country skiing contests. On a cultural note, people are encouraged to visit the city’s ice and snow film art festival, exhibitions of paintings, calligraphy, and photography, or some of the many folk song and dance performances. If you are craving your fill of bracing delights, visit before the end of February – and pack some extra sweaters: Temperatures can easily reach minus 30 degrees Celsius.

Text: Romy Uebel
Header Image: Harbin Ice Festival