Happy Wednesday everybody…
I know I sometimes (from time to time) complain about Changchun’s winter, but recently it came good in the form of the world’s biggest Ice and Snow festival. Harbin has the dubious honour of being China’s coldest city and is heavily influenced by close neighbour Russia, as seen in much of the architecture and local cuisine, which drifts slightly away from the Chinese norm. In a city where winter temperatures regularly dip to temperatures in which even freezers reach for a scarf and gloves, it seems entirely appropriate to stumble across a park displaying some awe-inspiring works from some of the most celebrated ice sculptors.
Sponsored by some of the most prominent global brands, banks and wealthy individuals, the festival really does have the purse to be as extravagant as it pleases, with one local beer company commissioning a 200m beer bottle as part of their investment. (Note to Budweiser on that actually, Harbin Beer is promoting itself as the Official Sponsor of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which just doesn’t seem legit….).
Nevertheless, this isn’t a bad example of how the festival doesn’t take itself too seriously, offering more quirky pieces alongside the main attractions. Included among these are several slides for children (and big children 😉 ) as well as ice-based games and activities to make it day out for all the ages. There was also outdoor Laser Quest available, but being as my mind cannot compute this, I’m not going to pretend to be able to explain further.
Castles and bridges surround the main exhibitions, meaning that each was linked in a very friendly way too!
Many of the main exhibitions were of classical Chinese buildings, depictions of famous works or scenes based from the lunar calendar, but there was plenty of room for more internationally recognised works, such as a scale model of the Colosseum.
Each of these has an underwhelming information panel, however there is a guided tour option which offers a more comprehensive run down. Delightfully there are also horse and carriages to whisk couples around the park- no doubt wonderful at sunset.
Also, competitions are held between global artists, including an entry from Jamaica, which was a bit confusing…. The rules are each contestant is given a block of ice and may not use more than that, but may use as little as they want. The intricacy of each design is incredible, which gives me a chance to display how average my camera is, and even more so how poor my camera skills are!
The only regrettable part of the day is the time that we went. Despite the fact that it was far quieter during the day, as you can see in the pictures, but they evening is when the park bursts into life. The lights add a spectacular end to each day- in fact, the sculptures are carved around the florescent lights which allows them to really show off. Unfortunately, we were leaving just as the lights came on, so we didn’t really experience the full effect, but it did leave a impressive back-drop as we left to go home.
All in all, great fun and an excellent use of terrible weather conditions!! Well done China!
Have a great week everybody!