Harbin 2016: World's most stunning winter festival now underway

CNN staffPublished 5th January 2016
(CNN) — Looking for inspiration to liven up your snow fort-building sessions with the kids?
The legendary Harbin International Snow and Ice Festival, famous for its spectacular sculptures and giant replicas, is now officially underway in northern China.
The annual event, now in its 32nd year, is made up of several themed zones including a sculpture art expo and a lantern fair.
The main attraction is the Harbin Ice and Snow World, which covers more than 750,000 square meters. Its magnificent structures required more than 330,000 cubic meters of ice and snow to create, according to a report in Chinese media.
This year's theme is "Pearl on the Crown of Ice & Snow."
Stunning as the works are in all their white glory, the best time to go is at night, when when the sculptures are lit from the inside.

China's "Ice City"

Enjoying that icy beauty doesn't come warmly.
The capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Harbin is a bitingly cold city with January daytime temperatures ranging from minus 13 to minus 23 Celsius.
Due to Harbin's close proximity to Russia, its northern neighbor's influence permeates everything from architecture to food.
Since 1985, the Harbin International Snow and Ice Festival has grown to become one of the biggest snow festival destinations in the world, joining the ranks of the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan, Canada's Quebec Winter Carnival and Norway's Holmenkollen Ski Festival.
Depending on weather conditions, the festival usually lasts until late February.