Each year there are dozens of festivals and events world over that truly are worth attending, either as part of a larger visit to the destination that hosts them, or for the event itself. Officially every year on the 5th January, the Harbin Ice Festival begins, though in truth much of it is already on display before, and often well after the festival finishes. What though is the Harbin Ice Festival you ask! That is what we want to let you know about today.
Originally an Ice Lantern festival back in the 60’s it did lapse for a while and has since bloomed again into a massive international event, with Ice Sculptors from the world around descend on Harbin to prove themselves and display their skills with sculpting snow. In the frozen north a virtual city of ice arises, with sculptures ranging from icons to building, which of a night are lit up in a fantastic display. There are also Ski challenges, though these are less visited, the option of visiting Stalin Park, a chance to Ice Fishing, or Ice Swimming if you are as game as some of the locals. It is also a chance to visit the Siberian Tiger Park, a preserve dedicated to increasing the Siberian Tiger population, while not a draw-card in itself to get you to Harbin during the warmer months, during the winter it is a must see visit in connection with the Ice Festival. Harbin also boasts a Pole Aquarium, and is a fantastic chance to see Belugas, Polar Bears, Arctic Foxes and more.
This truly stunning event is limited to the winter season, for reasons that are obvious – Ice after all only lasts so long and under certain conditions – and is definitely the best time to visit the region. It is also a perfect time to combine Harbin with some of the more incredible sights of China, and encounter them in a way many won’t see, such as the Great Wall covered in snow. If this all sounds interesting just continue reading to see a suggested programme for the Harbin Ice Festival!
Day 1 Arrival/Harbin
Meals: D Sites visited: St. Sofia Church, Central Street, Flood Control Monument, Ice Lantern Art Show
After you arrive in Harbin your tour guide will meet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel for a short rest. The first site you will visit is the Harbin St Sophia Cathedral church. With Byzantine style and meaning of ‘God’s wisdom’ for name, the church looks so beautiful as if it had been made by God’s hands. It was first built in 1907 and rebuilt into brick and wood structure in 1912. It is the largest Orthodox Church in the Far East. The Central Street, also known the Zhongyang Street. The Central Street is considered as the architectural art galley: Baroque and byzantine lining both sides, including Russian bakeries, French fashion houses and Japanese restaurants and so on. It’s a good place to see architectural styles as well as for shopping and taste different Cuisine. The Flood Control Monument, built in 1958, commemorates the thousands of people who died in years past when the river overflowed its banks. It’s more than a monument and the story behind it will impressive you. In the evening, you will visit the Ice Lantern Fair in Zhaolin Park. Ice Lantern Fair, also named the Ice Lantern Show, it is hold every year from 5th January to the end of February in Zhaolin Park. The park located in the downtown, it is a small and peaceful place. Still you can see pretty ice sculptures without many crowded. Especially at night when the ice sculptures are lit then which looks like a magical world.
Day 2 Harbin/Mudanjiang
Meals: B, L, D Sites visited: China’s Snow Town
After Breakfast, you will drive 5-6 hours to China’s Snow Town in Mudanjiang city. China’s Snow Town (local name: Zhong Guo Xue Xiang) is actually the nickname of the Shuangfeng Wood Farm in Hailin City. It is about 280 kilometers away from Harbin. China’s Snow Town is regarded as a dreamlike paradise in winter. Its high mountains, local traditional wooden houses, villages, animals, trees and the sunrise are all greatly different from those in the other world’s snowy areas. It is a very famous eco-tourist winter attraction connected to the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival.
Day 3 Mudanjiang/Harbin
Meals: B, L Sites visited: Yangcaoshan Mountain, Snowmobiling
After breakfast in your hotel your tour guide will meet you. Today you will take a snowmobile to visit the Yangcaoshan Mountain. Yangcaoshan Mountain is a beautiful and peaceful place covered by thick snow where you will enjoy the beautiful sunrise and snowscape. After visit the mountain you will take snowmobile back to the Snow Town (Xue Xiang). In the afternoon you tour guide will escort you back to Harbin.
Day 4 Harbin
Meals: B, L, D Sites visited: Sun Island Snow Sculpture Art Expo, Siberian Tiger Park, Ice and Snow World
The Sun Island Scenic Area (Tai Yang Dao). It’s a great place for escaping the hot summer with cool weather and nice scenery, flowers, lakes and cute animals in the forest. When it comes to winter the island will be covered by thick snow and there will be a world-famous snow sculpture show: International Snow Sculpture Art Expo. There are various of massive, huge snow sculptures which is so impressive and amazing. Then you will make an safari-style adventure in the Siberian Tiger Park. Siberian Tiger Park located on the north bank of the Songhua River. It is the largest natural park for wild Siberian tigers of China, even in the world. There are over 500 Siberian tigers this park. Here you can see wild tigers closely and take some fantastic photos. In the evening you will go to visit the Ice and Snow World. Located on the north bank of the Songhua River, the Ice and Snow Amusement World is a major attraction of Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival dunging the winter. There are full of awesome ice and snow sculptures created by artists from all around world. Kind note that please wear enough layers of proper clothes and warm shoes to keep you away form the freeze especially when you want to stay there longer to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Day 5 Harbin/Departure
Meals: B Sites visited: Transfer to the airport
After breakfast, you will free to enjoy your leisure time to explore this city until the time your tour guide meet you and escort you the airport for you flight home or next destination.