Early January brought the opening ceremonies of the 2019 Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. The 35th annual winter festival takes place in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China, and now is the largest ice and snow festival in the world. In the early years, participants in the festival were mainly Chinese, however it has since become an international festival and competition attracting nearly 20 million visitors and generating approximately $4 billion of revenue.
While ice sculptures are erected throughout the city, there are two main exhibition areas: Sun Island is a recreational area on the opposite side of the Songhua River from the city, which features an expo of enormous snow sculptures. Ice and Snow World is an area open at night which features illuminated full size buildings made from blocks of 2–3' thick ice taken directly from the Songhua River.
Harbin is located in Northeast China and receives cold winter wind from Siberia making it the perfect place to hold the month-long event. The average temperature in the winter is 1.8 °F and lows of -31 °F are not uncommon.
This year, the festival's most popular attraction, the Harbin Ice and Snow World, takes up over 600,000 square meters and includes more than 100 landmarks. It is made from 110,000 cubic meters of ice and 120,000 cubic meters of snow. Ice sculptures by artists from 12 different countries are competing in the competition.