China’s annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival opened on Monday, featuring the some of the most astonishing frozen works of art.
The festival is the largest of its kind in the world, with tourists flocking to see the huge ice masterpieces – also the biggest in the world – carved by artists from all over the globe. The ice sculpture competition is also the world’s most prestigious.
The festival has its roots in Harbin’s ice lantern show which started in 1963 but ceased due to Mao’s Cultural Revolution. It recommenced in 1985 and has gone from strength to Arctic strength.
Harbin lies in China’s north-north east and is chilled by the frosted winds blowing in from Siberia. In winter, the average temperature is a bitter minus 16.8 degrees Celsius – perfect for icy art, but you do need to bring a coat.
While the festival starts on 05 January every year and officially runs for a month, the incredible snowy structures may remain in place well in to March, depending on the weather.
The Guinness World Record for the largest ice sculpture was set by a Niagara Falls themed creation at the 2007 Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. It was 250 metres long, 8.5 metres high, and was composed from over 13,000 cubic metres of snow.
TOP IMAGE: Tourists view a 117-meter-long and 26-meter-high ice sculpture at the 2014 Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)