China Discovery Tour
Harbin | China
01 Jan 2020 | New Year’s Day | Wed
Day 05 of 18
Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival
Another big highlight of our trip to China was visiting this year’s Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. A few years ago, we saw some pictures and videos of this amazing event (online, on YouTube, etc.) and could not believe how beautiful (and colorful) the ice sculptures were. At the time, we didn’t know when or how we would do it – we just knew it definitely was being put on our future “must-do” list.
Fast-forward to October 2019. We already had a few trips lined up: 13-day Bhutan in November 2019 and a month-long family trip to Southern Thailand in late January/February 2020. We wanted to do something special for New Year’s but weren’t sure where to go. It was too late to plan a New Year’s Eve trip to any of the big cities around Southeast Asia, so I had to come up with something different. Then I thought what about the… Harbin Ice and Snow Festival!
At first, our original plan for China was just going to be visiting the Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin. But after contacting Discover China Tours, we found out that winter was one of the best times to visit other destinations in China. It is the low season (for Chinese tourism) and the weather is cool to cold but generally dry. So our planned brief visit to Harbin turned into an 18-day tour of eastern China!
Okay, back to the Ice and Snow Festival… It was amazing! We were there in person looking at these incredible ice structures, and we still could not believe it with our own eyes! The size, scale, and beauty of these enormous creations will blow your mind.
Each year, a workforce of around 10,000 (mostly local farmers) work night and day cutting and transporting blocks of ice (weighing up to 1,500 pounds) from the local Songhua River. They do this work in extreme cold weather (as low as minus 35 Fahrenheit) and are only paid around $35 per day! The large blocks of ice are then transported to the construction site where another group of workers uses cranes, chainsaws, picks, lasers and LED lighting to construct/assemble the blocks into the magical Disney like – Ice and Snow World! And oh yea, all of this takes place in over 30 days or so!