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Hot in Harbin: World's most spectacular winter festival opens

Story highlights

  • Harbin Ice and Snow Festival kicks off January 5
  • Festival gets more extravagant each year
  • Replica of Iceland's Hallgrimskirkja church made with 12,000 meters of ice
  • Fest attendance 28.5 million visitors over past two years

Planning on building an igloo or snowman this winter?

Sorry, we're not impressed.

The neighborhood kids might not be, either, after they see what ice sculptors have planned for the 2014 Harbin Ice and Snow Festival.

Kicking off on January 5, this frosty wonderland in northern China features crazy sculptures made from massive ice blocks and illuminated with colorful LED lights.

Sculptors have been carving away with ice picks, chisels and lasers for the last two weeks in preparation.

The result is an exhibition of extravagant castles, a Colosseum and Empire State Building, all made with ice blocks from the frozen Songhua River.

Is anything in China not getting bigger?

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2014, the winter festival gets more impressive and more extravagant each year.

The highlight is a towering replica of the Hallgrimskirkja church in Reykjavik, Iceland. According to organizers, the structure is the tallest ice sculpture in China (46 meters) and was made with 12,000 meters of ice.

The replica features a 240-meter-long slide for visitors.

Apart from replicas, the North Korea Pyongyang National Acrobatic Troupe will perform.

Visitors can skate on ice rinks and snowboard.

As China's most famous and popular winter attraction, the festival has drawn a combined 28.5 million visitors in the past two years.

To combat Harbin's sub-zero temperatures, organizers have set up 13 hot beverage stations around the park and offer complementary ginger tea at its concierge hall.

Depending on weather, the festival is open until March 2014.

Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, Songbei, Harbin, Heilongjiang, China; +86 451 8488 4363; RMB 300 ($50) for adult entrance