The city of Harbin in China’s frigid northeast is hosting one of the world’s largest festivals featuring ice sculptures of animals, cartoon characters and famous landmarks.
The 33rd annual International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, which officially opens Thursday, showcases the region’s tradition of snow and ice carvings as well as ice swimming in the Songhua River. Harbin’s temperature can fall to 13 degrees below zero.
Last year’s festival drew more than a million visitors.
Harbin’s best ice and snow carvers have been busy putting the finishing touches to their sculptures, which are based on big chunks of ice that are dragged out of the nearby river and carved, brushed and lit up.
The sculptures include animals and cartoon characters, replicas of world monuments and landscapes, as well as a 1,115-foot-long slide that the Chinese government says took around 500 builders to complete.
Lu Fu was helping to finish a giant ice castle on a busy roundabout in Harbin, brushing it with a small rake.
“I feel happy. Especially after completion, I feel so excited when looking at the ice wall with lights on in [the] distance,” said Lu, who has been carving ice for more than 20 years. “Ice building is the pride of Harbin people.”