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January 20, 2012

Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival 2012

The annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival has been held since 1963, interrupted for a number of years during the Cultural Revolution until it was resumed in 1985. Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang province, in northeastern China. It is nicknamed "Ice City" and aptly so for winter January temperatures that average minus 18 degrees Celsius, under the influence of the cold winter wind from Siberia. The festival officially starts January 5th and lasts one month, although exhibits often stay open longer, weather permitting. Harbin is one of the world's four largest ice and snow festivals, along with Japan's Sapporo Snow Festival, Canada's Quebec City Winter Carnival and Norway's Ski Festival. -- Paula Nelson (28 photos total)

Tourists visit ice sculptures during the testing period of the 13th Harbin Ice and Snow World in Harbin, Heilongjiang province. The Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival officially launched January 5, 2012. (Sheng Li/Reuters)

A newly married husband and wife celebrate after a group wedding ceremony as part of the 28th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival. The wedding was organized by the city government, and 18 couples from Nigeria, Russia and China participated in the ceremony, local media reported. (Sheng Li/Reuters) #

A group of girls pose in front of a castle made from blocks of ice before the opening ceremony of the Harbin International Ice and Snow festival. (Andy Wong/Associated Press) #

A swimmer jumps into the water during a winter swimming event on the ice-covered Songhua river in Harbin in northeastern China's Heilongjiang province. (Associated Press) #

A performer rests on a set decoration during a rehearsal for the opening ceremony of 13th Harbin Ice and Snow World in Harbin, Heilongjiang province. (Sheng Li/Reuters) #

Sunset near a castle made from blocks of ice in northeastern China's Heilongjiang province. (Andy Wong/Associated Press) #

Ice sculptures displayed at the annual Ice and Snow festival in Harbin. Fairy tale palaces, towering pagodas, and even an Egyptian Sphynx -- all carved from ice -- are among the sights at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images) #

An employee pours boiling water into a pot at a restaurant built with ice cubes at the 28th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival. (Sheng Li/Reuters) #

The Harbin Ice and Snow festival, an annual event, now in its 26th year, draws crowds from across China and even a few visitors from overseas, drawn to the unique visions of an international roster of sculptors who illuminate their creations with multicolored electric lights encased in the translucent ice. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images) #

Ice block sculptures of fairy tale palaces, towering pagodas, and an Egyptian Sphynx draw crowds from across China and even a few visitors from overseas. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images) #

Spectators watch fireworks explode over ice sculptures during the official opening. (Sheng Li/Reuters) #

Fireworks explode while Chinese dancers perform on a snow hill during the opening ceremony. (Andy Wong/Associated Press) #

A woman takes pictures of the colorful ice block buildings. (Andy Wong/Associated Press) #

Visitors tour a building structure made from blocks of ice and lit with colorful lights. (Andy Wong/Associated Press) #

Visitors enjoy the sights at the Harbin International Ice and Snow festival. (Andy Wong/Associated Press) #

A climber demonstrates his skill on a building made of blocks of ice during the opening ceremony. (Andy Wong/Associated Press) #

Visitors watch fireworks shoot above the ice block buildings during the opening ceremony of the festival. (Andy Wong/Associated Press) #

Tourists visit ice sculptures. (Sheng Li/Reuters) #

The colorful lights of the ice block sculptures create a intriguing overall scene for tourists. (Sheng Li/Reuters) #

Visitors lose themselves in the fantasy-like colorful buildings of the Harbin festival. (Andy Wong/Associated Press) #

Harbin in northeastern China's Heilongjiang province is known for its bitterly cold winters and is often called the "Ice City." (Andy Wong/Associated Press) #

Even the staircases are made from ice blocks at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival. (Andy Wong/Associated Press) #

A horse carriage carries tourists through the ice sculptures. (Sheng Li/Reuters) #

A horse carriage carrying tourists adds to the fairy tale mystique of the Harbin festival. (Sheng Li/Reuters) #

People visit the Harbin Ice-Lantern Show at Zhaolin Park. (ChinaFotoPress/ Getty Images) #

Customers have a meal at a restaurant built with ice blocks. (Sheng Li/Reuters) #

Spectators watch fireworks explode over ice sculptures. (Sheng Li/Reuters) #

Harbin, known as "Ice City" - a nickname well-earned - for winters that are dry and bitterly cold, with a 24-hours average in January of only minus18.4 degrees celcius. Workers install a tree with lights near buildings made from blocks of ice. (Andy Wong/Associated Press) #



 
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