A view of structures built of ice during the opening night of the annual tourist attraction (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
This year the park covers about 800,000 square meters. About 330,000 cubic meters of ice and snow were used to create the sculptures. (Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
The Festival, established in 1985, is held annually and lasts for over one month. (VCG via Getty Images)
Detail of giant colored ice crystals at the festival (BeeBright/iStockphoto/Getty Images)
Visitors watch fireworks at the opening ceremony of the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in China. (WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)
A cat sculpture constructed of ice blocks illuminated by fireworks at the opening ceremonies (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
A candy cane ice sculpture on view at the Ice and Snow World at the festival in Harbin (Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Fireworks illuminate the night sky marking the opening of the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival to celebrate the new year. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
An overview of the Harbin Ice and Snow World, in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province (Xinhua/Wang Jianwei via Getty Images)
A woman takes a photo as she visits an igloo illuminated by green hued lights at the festival. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
The 2017 Harbin Ice and Snow World began trial operations December 21, which has attracted tens of thousands of tourists to take pictures here. (VCG via Getty Images)
Over one million visitors are expected to attend the popular event. (Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
A view of structures built of ice during the opening night of the annual tourist attraction (Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Animal forms being carved out of ice at the festival (VCG via Getty Images)
Visitors take a selfie at the Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)

This Ice Festival in China Is a Rainbow-Colored Dream

smithsonian.com

This story originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.

There's an icy winter wonderland in Harbin, the capital of the northernmost—and coldest—province in China.

The city hosts an annual celebration, the International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, where ice sculptors compete to create more and more elaborate buildings of ice, all illuminated in multi-colored lights.

Preparations for the event begin months in advance, with workers digging huge ice blocks from the frozen Songhua River. The massive festival has several themed zones, and the main attraction is the Harbin Ice and Snow World, which covers more than 750,000 square meters and features up to 300,000 cubic meters of ice and snow.

While impressive in daylight, the show really gets going at night, when the large-scale ice structures are illuminated by technicolor LED lighting.

The festival officially opened January 5, and typically runs through late February. Over one million visitors are expected to attend this year.

See more photos of the festival.

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