On the border with Siberia, where the cold is the absolute master and winter brings temperatures that can reach -38 degrees, Harbin, the remote capital of Heilongjiang in Manchuria, attracts about 1.5 million tourists every year in this period from all over the world, compared to 11 thousand inhabitants.
The motivation is nothing short of spectacular: since 1963 the town, which grew up in the 19th century thanks to Soviet engineers who came here to build the eastern section of the Trans-Siberian Railway, has hosted the Harbin International Ice and Sculpture Festival, the most important and impressive celebration of the season cold around the world.
Hundreds of artists work together to create an entire city of ice using 180,000 cubic meters of ice and 150,000 of snow on 750,000 square meters of surface.
The result is truly breathtaking: a real ephemeral metropolis that enchants visitors from the Epiphany to the arrival of spring and its warmth. The Festival is divided into various sections and offers the thrill of an immense amusement park that reaches its peak at night when colored lights illuminate the blocks of ice and create a suggestion of colors that knows how to leave amazement speechless.
The splendid section dedicated to the city of ice is the Harbin Ice and Snow, where pagodas, palaces, bridges, roads, castles, and stairways appear every year on 400 thousand meters of roads to represent a real metropolis “born of snow and ice” that everyone should be able to admire at least once in their life.
The Harbin Ice Lantern is instead the section that combines the ancient tradition of ice lanterns used by fishermen as outdoor lights with modernity while the Zhaolin Park faithfully reproduces in the ice one of the most important parks in the city, the Zhaolin precisely, built in 1906, where it is pleasant to take a walk in the green in the summer and it is wonderful to watch the spectacle of the ice lanterns during the winter.
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Finally, there is also the International Ice Sculpture Competition, one of the most famous prize competitions in the world, in which the best ice artists compete with each other and create absolutely extraordinary works of art.