When life throws you lemons, make lemonade – this must have been the mantra of Harbin’s forefathers when they began the ice lantern show garden party in winter of 1963. Despite a brief interruption during China’s Cultural Revolution, the International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival soon grew to become one of the world’s largest winter festivals.

Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang Province in north east China, and located near the Russian border. This means that Harbin is plagued by harsh Siberian winters, but instead of falling into a desolate ghost-town every winter, the city explodes with brightly-lit icy works of art and jaw-droppingly beautiful snow sculptures during the festival.

The theme for 2015’s event is “Happy Ice Snow, Exciting City”. Questionable English aside, the colourful, delightful and awe-inspiring fun for the whole family. It kicks off on 5 January with a grand opening ceremony that features a series of theatrical performances and a brilliant fireworks display.

In addition to the ice sculpture exhibits that take over 15,000 people half a month to carve, the festival hosts a myriad of exciting events such as the Ice Snow Group Wedding Ceremony and International Ice Sculpture, and Snow Sculpture, Competitions.

Outside of the festival, Harbin is an enchanting place in winter and a wonderful destination for many of the snow activities found in northern Scandinavian countries such as dog-sledding, snowmobiling and sleigh-riding. You can even go on a safari-style adventure to look for fearsome Siberian Tigers or hike through picturesque, snow-covered forests in China Snow Town.