HARBIN, China — Ice sculptures of Moscow’s Red Square and Bangkok’s Temple of the Emerald Buddha are among landmarks featured in the world’s largest ice festival.
The Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in the frigid northeastern Chinese city is known for massive, elaborate and colorfully lit ice sculptures featuring animals, cartoon characters and landmarks.
Some of this year’s displays center on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s major foreign policy and trade initiative, the One Belt One Road, an ambitious plan to link Asia and Europe with a network of railways, ports and other infrastructure.
Main activities start this week and the festival runs through late February, with heavy crowds expected during Lunar New Year celebrations, Feb. 15-23. Temperatures at this time of the year can dip below -18C.
Last year’s festival drew 18 million visitors and 28.7 billion yuan (142.3 billion baht) in tourism revenue for Harbin, data from the city’s tourism bureau showed.
One park, the Harbin Ice-Snow World, features more than 2,000 ice sculptures made from 180,000 cubic meters of ice collected from the Songhua River by nearly a thousand workers. In the evening, sculptures are lit with colorful lights.
The festival includes ice sculpture competitions as well as winter swimming, ice hockey, skiing and snow biking.