Ice replicas of iconic buildings displayed in China

Thomson Reuters

A northern Chinese city is displaying grand ice sculptures and replicas of historic landmarks such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, for its 33rd annual International Ice Festival, which opened on Thursday, January 5th.

Artists gathered at the venue, in the city of Harbin, to apply the final touches to their ice masterpieces.

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The city began work on the carvings, many of which are the size of two- to three-story buildings, in mid-December, the festival's official website said. Sculptures are mostly built using ice from a nearby river.

Some tourists had already arrived by Wednesday, including Qing Wenyu, from the southern Guangxi region, who said she had read about the snow in the north when she was in primary school.

"I thought, I still have time to come here before I graduate and enjoy the scenery of our northern region and the art and sculptures of the Ice Festival," she said after sliding down one of the venue's ice slides.

Another tourist from the south said she had been inspired to come after seeing photos of the colourfl lights and ice sculptures during the night.

The festival lasts until February 25, festival organiszrs said.

Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province on the edge of Siberia, is one of China's coldest places. Winter temperatures can drop to below minus 35 degrees Celsius.