Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival 2012

The annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival has been held since 1963, interrupted for a number of years during the Cultural Revolution until it was resumed in 1985. Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang province, in northeastern China. It is nicknamed "Ice City" and aptly so for winter January temperatures that average minus 18 degrees Celsius, under the influence of the cold winter wind from Siberia. The festival officially starts January 5th and lasts one month, although exhibits often stay open longer, weather permitting. Harbin is one of the world's four largest ice and snow festivals, along with Japan's Sapporo Snow Festival, Canada's Quebec City Winter Carnival and Norway's Ski Festival. -- Paula Nelson (28 photos total)Tourists visit ice sculptures during the testing period of the 13th Harbin Ice and Snow World in Harbin, Heilongjiang province. The Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival officially launched January 5, 2012. (Sheng Li/Reuters)