Undoubtably Harbin’s most famous attraction, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival attracts thousands of visitors every year. The festival is actually split into three parts – the Ice Festival, Snow Festival and Ice Lantern Festival, with the first two held on Sun Island and the latter in the centre of town. Unfortunately, there is no discounted entrance ticket if you visit all three sections of the festival, with each entrance ticket costing 300RMB (150RMB for students) it can quickly add up to an expensive trip.
The Ice Festival is the largest and most famous site, and best visited in the evening to admire the impressive light displays. I was amazed to see just how big the ice structures were – whole palaces made entirely of ice, with LED lights embedded inside to create a truly magical experience.
As well as the impressive palaces, the Ice Festival also hosts an incredible sculpture competition, with beautiful ice sculptures on display. Visitors can explore the ice maze, skate on the frozen lake or have a ride in a carriage around the main attractions.
One thing I wasn’t quite prepared for (despite living in Harbin for half a year so far…) was the cold – it was below -30 degrees when I visited and I had to keep popping into the restaurants surrounding the edges of the festival to warm up. Not only was I struggling, but my camera and phone batteries quickly ran flat because of the extremely low temperatures – I’d recommend before coming buying some hand-warmers from a street stall or supermarket and sticking them to the backs of any important electrical devices!