Harbin to Celebrate Tourism Year of Russia
China Daily, November 29, 2011
In a month's time, tourists from the world over would brave freezing temperatures to appreciate a distinguished collection of ice and snow structures, with distinctive Russian characteristics, in Harbin, the Northeast China's Heilongjiang province.
The 28th China Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival will open on Jan 5, 2012.
"The festival boasts the longest time span, the most abundant activities and the biggest influence of its kind across the globe," Harbin mayor Lin Duo said. "We warmly welcome guests from around the world to join the carnival."
To mark the "tourism year of Russia" in China in 2012, Russian features are being incorporated into the festival. Russia will host "tourism year of China" in 2013.
Statistics from the Embassy of the Russian Federation in China showed that in the first nine months of 2011, Chinese tourists to Russia has increased by 52 percent while Russian tourists to China notched a 9-percent rise.
Lin said the two-month festival will focus more on the public's participation and interactivity this year.
Apart from the traditional international ice and snow sculpture competitions, more than 30 events will be held for the public, including a reindeer parade, a group wedding ceremony and a free-access ice fairyland.
"Tourists can make snow carvings and pose for pictures with their creations," Lin said.
Gao Xing, a 25-year-old Harbin native, said every year the city would be adorned with ice carvings in streets and alleys during winter, creating a strong atmosphere of celebration.
"People of different colors visit the city, and people are immersed in the joy of the carnival. This is an excellent chance for overseas guests to have a nice taste of Harbin and recommend it to others," he said.
Zhao Huahai, an officer at Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of Harbin, who is responsible for managing the participation of foreign contestants in the ice and snow sculpture competitions, said more than 20 teams from across the globe have applied to compete in the events, including artists who have been coming to Harbin for several years together.
Tatyana Schremko, a 76-year-old US citizen, will join the competition for the fifth time this year.
"It's always a matter of pride for a sculptor to compete in Harbin, the world-famous 'city of ice'," said the resident of Washington DC, who has been ice sculpting for the past five decades.
"I hope to continue participating in the competition until the time I can no longer afford the travel. I'd like to leave one piece each year for the residents here," she said.
Zhou Bin, a police officer in Shanghai, will take his family to join the festival for the first time during the Spring Festival.
"I've had a nice experience there several times, and my daughter is eager to step into the fantastic world where temperature is around -30 C," said the 45-year-old.
Zhou said Harbin and Shanghai were different in both climate and culture. His family was looking forward to admiring the city's charming European architectures, and experiencing how the Chinese New Year was celebrated in the northeast, he added.
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