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Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

Updated : 2013-05-17

By ( chinadaily.com.cn )

It's been a few days since this year's Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival kicked off, and the fun has already spread to the whole city. Let's take a look at some of the highlights so far.

For three decades, the city of Harbin has been a by-word for freezing, fun-loving winter holidays. So when most of northern China shuts its doors to the cold winter wind, Harbin always comes to life. The Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Expo is one of the major festival sites for snow sculptures, including the 27-meter-high "Swan Girl", also known as the largest snow sculpture in the world.

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A Harbin resident said, "I feel very excited. Because ice and snow are important parts of our culture. They make our city more beautiful and through the festival people can feel the enthusiasm of the local people."

This year's Ice and Snow Festival also coincides with the start of China-Russia Tourism Year. Many of the performances and installations at this year's festival are tinged with a Russian theme. Russian performers joined Chinese artists, to put on a remarkable show, and the "Sun Island" and "Volga Manor" added an exotic twist to the annual event.

When night falls, fireworks light up the sky to kick off the spectacular Ice and Snow World, an ice theme park with 2,000 ice sculptures, turning the area into a frosted fairyland.

You can find entire buildings complete with tunnels, stairways, bridges and even slides carved in incredible detail. They are all made entirely out of ice and illuminated by coloured lights, set within the structures. And tourists cannot get enough of them.

Enhancing the pure joy of being in the snowy outdoors, are around two thousand spectacular ice sculptures. The inspiration for these ice sculptures is usually derived from Chinese fairy tales or world famous architectural sites.

However, over at the sculpture wall, Captain Jack Sparrow seems tired of the Caribbean weather and is taking some time to cool off.

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For the thrill-seekers, there are five slides of different sizes - something for everyone who enjoys landing with a bump. But if that's a bit too energetic, you can always take a laid-back traditional Yak ride. And if you prefer more modern methods of getting around, just remember to apply the brakes when you go a bit too fast.

Weddings on Snow is another event to witness. Eighteen couples from across the world have decided to brave the freezing temperatures in Harbin to say "I do". Sub-zero temperatures didn't stop the couples from getting together to tie the knot. In fact, it made the event even more special.

Gao Xiaoyu, bride, said, "It was winter when we first met. The ice wedding gives us a chance to remember our first date."
Newly-weds stepped up to the stage to accept blessings from relatives and friends. Taking vows and swearing their love for one another, the excitement of the occasion is evident. Making a commitment to love in a unique ice world makes the event one they'll never forget.

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