In the northeast of China, near the borders of Russia and North Korea, is the 8th largest city in China: Harbin. It's also one of the coldest parts of China with average winter temperatures of -13/-22C (9/-8F). The city takes pride in its cold winters and celebrates with the largest Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in the world every January.
The region around Harbin has always made traditional lanterns out of ice every winter. Then, in 1985, the current version of the Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival officially started. Artists from the local area as well as other countries came to Harbin to showcase their work. The festival has a theme each year but the ice sculptures always feature full-scale models of famous landmarks like St. Basil's Cathedral in Russia and the Great Pyramids in Egypt. The translucent sculptures are lit up at night, creating a glowing pastel landscape in the dark. The sculptures are all made with blocks of ice taken from the Songhua River. A Guinness record was set at the festival for the largest ice sculpture at 250 meters long and 8.5 meters high, using 13,000 cubic meters of ice and snow.
Besides the grand ice sculptures, there are many ice and snow activities happening throughout the festival. There is ice skating, skiing, sledding, and for the more adventurous, winter swimming. 18 million people from all over the world visit Harbin every January for the festival and to experience extreme winter temperatures.
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