The 2016 annual Chinese Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival was held Harbin,Heilongjiang, China. The event began about 17 years ago, and has become a world attraction. Bringing ten to fifteen visitors, with ten thousand workers cutting and hauling ice it is the world's largest ice festival covering 600,000 square meters with ice edifices topping 46 meters high. What sets the Harbin festival apart is the sheer scale of the sculptures and its beautiful lighting. It is bigger than the ones in Sapporo, Norway, and Quebec.
In the beginning only a few Chinese sculptors participated, but over the last ten years, it has become an international festival and competition, bringing ice sculptors from all over the world. As the festival grows in international participation, and as China's economy grows, the size of the snow sculptures and ice architecture exhibits keeps growing. The work going into making these exhibits is astounding, and their size and beauty is amazing.
The lightning effects on the huge ice sculptures in the Ice and Snow World are technologically sophisticated. They use computer controlled LEDs and regular lighting to animate stunning displays of color and design.
The Ice Lantern Festival was the precursor to the current festival, which started in 1963 but was put on hold during the Cultural Revolution. A few hundred years ago, during the Qing Dynasty, local fishermen would hollow out pails of ice and put candles in them for light at night. Over time, lanterns went from being strictly functional to being an aesthetic fixture.