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A city in China hosts an elaborate winter festival with giant ice castles, mass weddings, and a frigid swimming contest ' take a look

Published by Business Insider on Fri, 11 Jan 2019

Harbin, China hosts an International Ice and Snow Festival each year that draws millions of visitors.The festival kicked off its 35th year on January 5.The festival's winter attractions include life-size ice sculptures, ice replicas of the Colosseum and Milan Cathedral, and massive snowmen.There's also an ice-swimming tournament in which swimmers brave thefreezing waters of the Songhua river in sub-zero temperatures.China's Heilongjiang Province isn't always a big destination for tourists, but when winter rolls around, the region rolls out the red carpet to millions of visitors from across the globe. The city of Harbin hosts one of the world's largest winter celebrations, called the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, which features painstakingly crafted ice sculptures and gargantuan snow statues.The festival, which includes four separate theme parks, kicked off its 35th year on January 5 and runs until the end of February. Last year's attracted more than 18 million visitors, according to NBC News.The festival's colored lights make the ice creations look even more striking, and each year weddings also take place there in abundance.For those unable to travel to Harbin this winter (presumably that's most of us), take a look at these stunning images from the festival so far.SEE ALSO:A fitness guru who goes by 'Iceman' says exposure to extreme temperatures is a lifesaving third pillar of physical healthThe 2019 Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival's opening ceremony kicked off with fireworks on January 5.The festival's four theme parks are the Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Expo, Harbin Ice and Snow World, Harbin Wanda Ice Lantern World, and Zhaolin Park Ice Lantern Fair. Lin Renlong, a 22-year-old visiting from Hebei with his girlfriend, told Reuters that it's like 'Disneyland in winter.'Despite the sub-zero temperatures, tourists like Renlong flock to Harbin from around the world and all over China.Harbin Ice and Snow World ' one of the four theme parks ' grows larger every year; this year's covers more than 750,000 square meters, according to the festival website.That's an area larger than California's Disneyland.Visitors can enjoy Harbin's Ice and Snow World for about $48.See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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