China’s Winter Wonderland

Between January and February, China’s most northeastern province bordering Siberian Russia, hosts a winter wonderland which many describe as something out of a “fantasy movie.”

Harbin, in Heilongjiang’s capital, is the home of China’s International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival.

Here, visitors and competitors are greeted to life-seize ice sculptures of international landmarks. The Athens Acropolis, the Forbidden City? They’re all here.

You can even take a ride down an ice slide representing the Songhua River.

The scenery gets even more magical when the sun goes down. That’s when beams of crimson, sapphire, lime green and more shine through translucent ice sculptures illuminating the park.

“It’s quite surreal, due to both the scale and all the lighting—like being in a fantasy movie,” says Christian Stanley of the China Travel Company, in an interview with National Geographic. “You  feel very small and can’t help wondering how they manage to build all of this so quickly. It’s also hard to believe that within a matter of weeks it is all gone—melted away.”

The adventure continues at The Siberian Tiger Park a few miles northwest of Harbin.

This 355-acre reserve is home to Siberian Tigers, black pumas, leopards and lynx.

Visitors board buses surrounded by barbed-wire mesh to get close to these great creatures..

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