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Harbin - Ice Lantern Festival & Snow Sculpture Expo
Feb 3 eve.-5 , 2012

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Harbin, often referred to as Little Moscow, is China's northernmost major city and capital of this most northerly Heilongjiang province. Historically, the city has had a lot of Russian influence, in particular after the Russian Civil War of 1918. The influence remains clearly visible in the building styles and foods. The world famous Harbin Snow Festival with its Snow Sculpture Park and Ice Lantern Festival (held between December 31 - mid February) is a family treat not to be missed. The Siberian Tiger Park is another highlight of the visit, especially for children.

Harbin is at the same latitude as Montreal, and winter temperatures is between -10 and over -30 °C.(in the past three years the lowest is around -17 due to the influence of the global warm).
 
Highlights

* Ice Lantern Festival at night is poetic and colourful fiesta of ice and light.
* Daytime Snow Sculpture Expo on Sun Island is worldly famous
* Drive into a park of over 200 free roaming Siberian tigers and lions on snow, feed them with flying pheasants and watch them capturing their prey is special experience. Great fun for both adults & children.
* Watch swiming and diving peformance on the frozen river, and play ice Slides.
* Drink in an ice Bar on the street of Russian-influenced architecture.
* Japanese Germ Warfare Base in Harbin is an eye-opening site to get to know the history of World War II in the Far East.

Best time to visit

Winter. Travel soon to avoid the peak season starting late January - February.
Harbin Snow Sculpture Expo & Ice Lantern Festival begin officially on the second week of January annually till mid February. But they are actually open to visitors right after Christmas, when ice lanterns are complete and 80% snow sculptures are done. By then, you can see sculptors working on them.
Summer is popular for local tourists.
         
   
         
         
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Helpful Info

Weather: -15℃ - -25℃ Please check the forecast before the trip! (try www.weather.com)

What to bring: your passport, fur lined shoes, ear muffs, fur-lined leather gloves, down jacket, several layers of socks, padded pants, hat, scarf and mask

Useful hint: Digital camera batteries tend to use up their power quicker in the cold weather. CCC recommends that you keep your camera inside your jacket until you want to use it or have more batteries to use.

Family friendly?
It's suitable for people of any age and is child-friendly. Siberian Park and Snow Amusement facilities (slides and others) are highlights for children.

Hard to aquire train and air tickets
Due to the popularity of the Harbin Snow and Ice festivals and the increased amount of travel associated with the winter vacation and Chinese Spring festival, you may not be able to obtain even a single train or plane ticket. It become tighter from mid-January to Feb.15.

Train condition
The travel train to Harbin is the one of the best in China. All carriages are equipped with high-class soft-sleepers and washrooms. The quilt is very clean and each berth is set up with a TV with English channels (HBO, etc.).

Food:
A mixture of Chinese food with Russian influences. Flavors are not spicy but food is filling. Main cooking methods: braising, double-boiling, steaming and stewing. Specialties: Russian red sausage, Meat Stews, Wild mushrooms, Caviar, Chocolates, cakes and Harbin beer (the oldest beer brand in China). On the CCC tour you have the opportunity to sample local dishes or choose alternative cuisine.

Shopping
Harbin is famous for selling many Russian products including the Russian Doll Babooshka. Caviar is easily purchased in shops and markets in the city. Harbin is also famous for its Dongbei (northeast of China) Ginseng, wild mushrooms, fur and Harbin red sausage.
 
 
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