Tradition in China signals stability, consistency, strength and truth. On Thursday, January 6, 2011, the 27th annual Harbin's Ice and Snow Festival in northeastern China got underway with the marriage ceremonies of 18 couples who have adopted those principle into their new lives. Despite temperatures that dipped below -16 degrees Celsius (3 degrees Fahrenheit), couples from Russia, the United States, Japan, Canada, Vietnam and four different Chinese provinces huddled in front of a massive beautifully carved snow sculpture to say "I do."
Family members, friends and well-wishers also braved the freezing conditions to attend.
The festival pulls thousands of visitors to see sculptors from all over the world chisel and chip away, creating fantastic works of art – live. Many illuminate their creations with hews of electric colored lights encased in translucent ice.
Harbin is in the northeast province of Heilongjiang. The multiple displays included fairy tale palaces, towering pagodas and an Egyptian Sphinx. One of the featured sculptures includes an ice slide that happens to be a fan favorite and gives the participant a panoramic view by the seat of their pants. The slide travels for over 180 meters amidst the lighted towers of ice. Nightly firework displays backlight a crisp, clear city of amazing shapes and sights. The cold weather never seems to affect attendance, participation or the awe factor.
The Snow and Ice Festival will run until February 17th.