Do you love the chill of winter like… a lot? If so, Harbin, China might be the place for you. Every year, starting on frigid January 5th, the northern town hosts a month-long display of shockingly large sculptures and palatial buildings all made from ice.
Photo: Kim Kyung-Hoon
The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival began in 1963 and despite the blistering cold it has gained increasing popularity over the years, with attendees and artists from around the world. The sculptures are inventive, detailed and massive. The buildings are large edifices built using blocks of ice two or three feet thick, cut straight from the Songhua River. At night they're lit up like a bonkers skyline, or an out of focus still from Blade Runner. There are ice slides and mazes and all kinds of art that makes good use of the ice as a spectacle and an unusual construction material.
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In addition to giant frigid sculptures, the event hosts winter swimming for bonkers people who find exposure to hideously cold water invigorating.
Through western eyes it feels a bit like an inverted (and possibly less wasteful) Burning Man, and makes me wish I'd pursued professional snow fort design after all.
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