Harbin Ice Sculpture Festival

This is the event that draws most foreign visitors to Harbin. The festival begins on January 5th and officially runs to mid-February, though it will most likely still be running by the end of February. There are two separate aspects to the festival.

Zhaolin Park (Ice Sculptures)     (兆麟公园)

The traditional spot is in Zhaolin Park, just east of Zhaoyang Dajie. This is where you see the sculptures actually made of ice – lit up with colored lights. A different range of sculptures are produced every year, but you can be sure that there will always be something mind-bogglingly large as well as smaller, more intricate sculptures. Photos and pictures on television can’t do justice to the sculptures – it really has to be experienced. The Ice Lantern Festival was first held here in 1963 and has been running annually since 1985.

Admission: ¥55. Open: 16:00-21:30 (it’s best viewed after dark)

Directions: Zhaolin Park is bordered by Shangzhi Dajie, Youyi Lu, Diduan Jie and Senlin Jie. It’s one block east of Zhongyang Dajie.

Show the taxi driver: 请带我去兆麟公园, 谢谢。     (Please take me to Zhaolin Park. Thank you.)

Sun Island Park (Snow Carvings)     (太阳岛公园)

A newer addition to the Ice Festival is the snow sculpture exhibition in Sun Island Park. This one is only open during the day (no lights shining through the snow sculptures) so if you’re making a day of it then start off here and head to Zhaolin Park in the evening. Once again, the sheer enormity and intricacy of the sculptures is breathtaking.

Admission: ¥50 for the exhibition plus ¥30 entrance to Sun Island Park. Open: 8:00-17:00.

Directions: Take the cable car across Songhua River from the end of Tongjiang Jie (one block west of Zhongyang Dajie). It costs ¥35 one way and ¥50 return. Alternatively, when the river is flowing, you can take a ferry across from the Flood Control Monument.

Show the taxi driver: 请带我去兆麟公园, 谢谢。     (Please take me to Sun Island Park. Thank you.)

Meanwhile, you’ll see plenty of ice sculptures for free just walking the streets – particularly Zhongyang Dajie and along the Songhua River.