Amusing Monday: World’s largest ice festival

China’s Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival got under way yesterday with an ice-swimming competition in sub-zero weather in this northern Chinese city.

The annual festival is said to be the world’s largest winter festival, now in its 30th year and attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors from throughout the world. Surprisingly, I had never heard much about it until this year, when I’ve stumbled upon several news reports and lots of cool photos. The video below is from The Telegraph, based in London.

Highlights of the festival include massive ice sculptures, some lighted by LED bulbs, some by lasers and others by traditional Chinese ice lanterns. Although sculptures can be seen throughout the city, the largest ones are on display in two exhibit areas: Sun Island, across the Songhua River, and Ice and Snow World, a Disney-like area with full-size buildings constructed from blocks of ice cut out of the frozen river.

This year’s ice structures include replicas of New York City’s Empire State Building, Rome’s Colosseum and Reykjavik’s Hallgrimskirkja Church, along with the Great Wall of China, according to a story by Mark Johanson in International Business Times, which includes colorful photos from Reuters.

Interest in Harbin as a winter destination grew during the 1970s and early ’80s, when tourists began flocking to the city from all over China to see the locally produced ice lanterns and sculptures and to participate in winter sports, according to the Ice Festival Harbin website. After approval by the municipal and provincial governments, the festival was officially launched in 1985 and approved to begin on Jan. 5 of each year.

Slide shows worth checking out:

The video below is from China Central Television, the national TV station of the People’s Republic of China.

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