we took a taxi ride to Sun Island which is just a bridge away from the city. it was magical as we were like transported to another world of ice. unlike the other ice and snow festivals in the world, the one here is totally isolated from the city in one huge flat area enclosed by towering walls of ice bricks.
it is indeed considered as the world's largest festival that displays giant artworks of ice and snow. the facade alone resembles the gates of castles towering up to 50 feet. it was still on its soft opening when we got there as the festival runs from early January up to the month of March. we were there end of December and luckily they already allowed tourists to enter at a standard rate.
since daytime is shorter in Harbin during winter, we went there just in time for its opening. sundown happens at 3:00pm. it was a cold winter day as it was snowing almost the entire time.
there were structures which resembles chess boards, trains and even Chinese gongs. what made Harbin's winter festival unique is it focused mainly on structures built from large bricks placed on top of the other to form icons. unlike other winter festivals which are entirely focused on large snow artworks and ice sculptures.
it would take a month for them complete the entire ice city. a total of about 150,000cubic meters of ice are taken out from the frozen Songhua river to form all these. the ice festival was said to have started as a simple lantern festival in 1963 until it has gained the world's attention for its current grandiosity.
but it was not all bricks, in between brick castles were giant snow forms of Buddha, zodiac figures and even some igloos. small slides here and there were designed for kids but a huge one was still under construction that time.
the temperature that time was ranging from -5C to -12C and the sky was plain white. good that there were coffee and food shops within the park which has heaters. noodle soups and hot drinks are offered along with the usual hotdogs and few rice meals.
we just walked around the entire day enjoying every structure in this huge frozen city of gigantic ice formations. i can't believe that it would only take a place like this and all-day snow for me to declare that this is indeed one of the happiest place on earth. not wild rides. not funny people.
1. take note that during winter, day is shorter in Harbin. sunset is around 3:00pm. so to maximize your day, you need to start early.
2. for the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, there are two tickets, day time and night time. night tickets offers the light show which adds colors to these structures but you need to be prepared for the extreme cold.
3. you can purchase tickets in advance thru your hotels and some travel agencies but you can also buy tickets on the spot.
4. it is best to take a taxi from the city to Sun Island to go to the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival. take note that there are two large festival area, one entirely dedicated for large snow artworks and the famous Harbin Internation Ice and Snow Festival as featured in this post.
5. for other details and updates on this year's Harbin Internation Ice and Snow Festival you can check out the following links:
most major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Guangzhou have regular direct flights to Harbin.
Trains Schedule Beijing to Harbin
Train D29 - Beijing ETD 7:00am ETA 3:00pm (Estimated trip length: 8hrs)
Train D25 - Beijing ETD 10:00am ETA 6:00pm (Estimated trip length: 8hrs)
Train D101 - Beijing ETD 1:50pm ETA 9:50pm (Estimated trip length: 8hrs)
Train D27 - Beijing ETD 3:15pm ETA 11:15pm (Estimated trip length: 8hrs)
Train T157 - Beijing ETD 6:18am ETA 5:00pm (Estimated trip length: 10hrs)
Train K339 - Beijing ETD 11:00am ETA 2:40pm (Estimated trip length: 15hrs)
Train K297 - Beijing ETD 12:00nn ETA 2:00am (Estimated trip length: 15hrs)
Train T39 - Beijing ETD 1:45pm ETA 4:45am (Estimated trip length: 15hrs)
Train K2265 - Beijing ETD 1:57pm ETA 8:30am (Estimated trip length: 18hrs)
Train T47 - Beijing ETD 6:57pm ETA 6:20am (Estimated trip length: 11hrs)
Train K1082 - Beijing ETD 8:43pm ETA 4:04pm (Estimated trip length: 19hrs)
Train T17 - Beijing ETD 9:23am ETA 8:30pm (Estimated trip length: 11hrs)
Train K19 - Beijing ETD 11:00pm ETA 3:04pm (Estimated trip length: 16hrs)
Train Trip Updates:
Trains from Beijing to Harbin will be from Beijing South Railway Station (Kaiyang Rd Cor Nanzhan Xingfu Rd)
Train length varies depending on the train speed and the number of stopovers