In the very northeastern tip of China lies the province of Heilongjiang, renowned mostly for its cold winters, when temperatures commonly fall below negative 20 degrees Celsius.
Because of these low temperatures, its capital city, Harbin (哈尔滨) has earned the nickname "Ice City" and become the nation's winter-amusement city.
Its annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival (哈尔滨国际冰雪节), officially started in 1985 and now one of the world's four largest ice festivals, boasts dozens of large-scale snow sculptures and hundreds of structures created purely out of ice.
Illuminated from within by colored lights, some of these constructs reach more than five stories into the air, creating a winter wonderland that one has to see in person to truly appreciate.
Much of the festival is competition oriented, with ice and snow sculptors competing for various titles.
For visitors, winter sports and activities are also plentiful: sleigh rides, ice slides, horse-drawn carriages, ice-skating.
Visitors should come prepared with appropriate clothing; no one has fun freezing to death. As the scenes are most spectacular against the night sky, early-bird (before 1:30 p.m.) as well as student discounts apply to the regular admission of RMB200.