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 and Snow 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.