Sunday, January 14

Harbin Ice Lantern Festival

The Harbin Ice Lantern Festival is held every January among the trees and ponds of Zhaolin Park.  The park is located in the centre of town and is the original location of Harbin's spectacular Snow & Ice Festival.  However, the main festival has long since relocated to a larger, grander venue.

Ice lanterns have a long history in the city. Local ice fishermen originally used them to light their favourite fishing spot.  A cavity was carved into a block of ice cut from the local river.  This was then used to cover and protect a candle.  The translucent ice also helped to scatter its light in all directions.

Today, the city continues the tradition of the ice lanterns with a spectacular multi-coloured display of ice and light.  Garry and I visited the venue on our last night in Harbin. It was the perfect way to end our brief excursion into northern China.  The park was relatively crowd-free in stark constant to the Snow & Ice Festival's main venue.  

We spent more than an hour wandering through the park admiring dozens of creative ice sculptures, iridescently lit buildings of ice and winding paths lined with row upon row of simple, colourful man-sized ice lanterns. It was also here that we paused for a moment to remember the fifth anniversary of my Dad's passing (oh yes - that's me sitting on the boat of solid ice).

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