While ice sculptures are erected throughout the city, there are two main exhibition areas:
- Sun Island (map) is a recreational area on the opposite side of the Songhua River from the city, which features an expo of enormous snow sculptures.
- Ice and Snow World is an area open in the afternoon and at night which features illuminated full size buildings made from blocks of 2–3′ thick ice taken directly from the Songhua River. The park usually opens from late December to late February.
At the 35th annual festival held in 2019, the festival’s most popular attraction, the Harbin Ice and Snow World, took up over 600,000 square meters and included more than 100 landmarks. It was made from 110,000 cubic meters of ice and 120,000 cubic meters of snow. The festival also included ice sculptures by artists from 12 different countries competing in the annual competition.
- Best Time to go: Please avoid the Chinese New Year. The parks will be very crowded and the hotels are very expensive.
- Ticket Price: To enter different venues (parks) of the festival, you have to buy different tickets at different prices.
Other large ice and snow festivals include Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival, Canada’s Quebec City Winter Carnival, and Norway’s Holmenkollen Ski Festival.
Sub-Zero Clothing: In Harbin in winter, the temperature is from -25°C (-13°F) to -10°C (14°F), and that’s without wind chill! Hence thermal underwear, gloves, (scarves, earmuffs), hats, (face masks), and thick arctic clothing and boots are necessary. If you have ski boots, they would be ideal.
Protect your camera batteries and mobile phones: The average January high in Harbin is -13°C (8°F). The cold saps battery life and could make your mobile phone shutdown.