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   Undertoad  Monday May 10 02:11 PM

5/10/2004: Amazing Chinese snow and ice festival

xoxoxoBruce passes along these items, documenting these 2003 Chinese snow and ice festivals - the snow being a sculpturing challenge, the ice being more architectural in nature. I will pick and choose from Bruce's correspondent's great descriptions, so, all of the text below comes from that:

The temperature in Harbin reaches forty below zero, both Fahrenheit and centigrade, and stays below freezing nearly half the year. The city is actually further north than notoriously cold Vladivostok, Russia, just 300 miles away. So what does one do here every winter? Hold an outdoor festival, of course! Rather than suffer the cold, the residents of Harbin celebrate it, with an annual festival of snow and ice sculptures and competitions. This is the amazing sculpture made of snow greeting visitors to the snow festival in 2003.

Snow and ice sculpture in Harbin dates back to Manchu times, but the first organized show was held in 1963, and the annual festival itself only started in 1985. Since then, the festival has grown into a massive event, bringing in over a million tourists from all over the world every winter. The sculptures have become more elaborate and artistic over time; this bear and cub are just one small part of a fifty-meter-wide mural sculpture.

Most of the sculptures appearing at the snow festival are competitive entries. Each team starts with a cube of packed snow that appears to measure about three meters on a side, and then starts carving away. Teams come in from all over the world - Russia, Japan, Canada, France, even South Africa.

The ice festival, a few miles away from the snow festival, is anything but dull and colorless. Crowds flocking to the entrance are greeted by dance music booming in the distance, as if at an outdoor pop concert. And bright neon colors shine everywhere, buried within huge blocks of ice forming structures as high as thirty meters... It's like a Disney theme park, with multiple attractions and food hawkers and kids running around and people lined up for bathrooms. The only differences are that the temperature is about a hundred degrees colder than the typical Disney park, and all the structures are made out of ice rather than plastic - and slipping and falling here doesn't result in tremendous lawsuits.

The Great Wall doubles as a long ice slide; just sit and go. You can pick up some serious speed and wipe out spectacularly at the bottom if you're wearing a slick coat, but you won't go anywhere if you're wearing corduroy pants.

All the ice comes from Songhua Jiang, the nearby river, which provides a limitless supply; huge chain saws are required to cut through the ice, which can be meters thick.

jdbutler  Monday May 10 02:16 PM

"Thufferin' Thuckatwat!" I would have said "cool" but that was too obvious.

Tomas Rueda  Monday May 10 03:06 PM

Harbin, eh? does that mean the celebration lasts through out winter, Mid-Autumn and Mid-spring?

Zenchou  Monday May 10 03:09 PM

Here is the full webpage for a couple more pictures. Most of the cool ones are already on here, but a couple more on this page.

xoxoxoBruce  Monday May 10 07:18 PM

Great link, Zenchou. The guy that sent the stuff to me didn't say where he got it, but that's definitally the site. Thanks.

Lady Sidhe  Monday May 10 11:14 PM


That must be amazing to see in person.


CzinZumerzet  Tuesday May 11 05:11 AM

What am amazing and unforgetable sight that must be, to be up close and get the perspective. Kinda puts my town's sandcastle compo into perspective too but it's given me some new ideas!

I wonder how many buckets of sand that Great Road would take...

nioupy  Tuesday May 11 05:50 AM

the first picture is so great. i wonder how long does it takes to sculpt this ? if i was to do it, the ice would have melted before i even made the smallest part of it

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