Harbin Ice Festival Guide – Harbin Ice and Snow World 2024

Harbin Ice and Snow World is part of the larger Harbin Ice Festival that runs from late December until March every year in northern China. It houses a collection of famous landmarks made entirely of ice!

Having lived in Harbin and visited the ice festival multiple times, I’ve put together this guide with everything you need to know about visiting this incredible spectacle. One thing’s for sure, you’ll need to wrap up warm!

The ice festival is famed around the world and attracts an average of 10 to 20 million guests every year. It has been running for 40 years and people come from all over the world to witness this incredible “Disneyland on ice”.

Book your ticket to the largest ice and snow festival in the world. Click here to check availability or use the widget below.

Update: The 40th Annual Harbin Ice and Snow Festival will officially open on 5th January 2024. However, the main site will be open to visitors from 20th December 2023.

The ticket price for this year’s festival is: ¥300 ($41). Concession tickets are ¥200 ($28).

Boring stuff: I have visited each of the places I recommend and give you my honest opinion, warts and all. All photos are my own unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission. Affiliate links may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

What’s New for the Harbin Ice Festival in 2024?

Harbin Ice & Snow World
Ice sculptures at the 2021 festival

Ferris Wheel

This is the first year in the festival’s history with the addition of a snowflake Ferris Wheel. This is the perfect place to get those awesome shots of the ice sculptures from above.

The Harbin Show

This year will also see the Harbin Show; nightly performances with dancing, ice magic shows, acrobatics and more.

Book your ticket to the largest ice and snow festival in the world. Click here to check availability or use the widget below.

See my vlog of the Ice and Snow World shot in February 2021!

When is Harbin Ice and Snow World?

The Harbin ice sculpture park opens in late December and lasts until mid-March when the ice and snow begin to melt. The official opening ceremony is on 5th January 2024.

Where is the ice festival located?

Ice and Snow World is located on an island on the (frozen) Songhua River in central Harbin in China’s far northeastern Heilongjiang Province.

Address: Songbei Avenue, Songbei District, Harbin

Harbin Ice Festival
Harbin Ice Festival

How do I get to the ice festival?

It is best to take a taxi to the site to avoid waiting around for buses in the extreme cold. A taxi fare from anywhere downtown should not cost more than ¥50 ($8). Taxis will be queuing up outside the exit to ensure a quick and comfortable trip back into the city.

When is the best time to visit Ice and Snow World?

The best time to visit is just before sunset so you can see the ice sculptures in daylight and then as they light up as the sun sets.

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival
Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

How Much Are Tickets for Harbin Ice and Snow World?

Tickets cost around ¥300 ($41). You may think the price is steeper than other attractions in China, but don’t forget that the entire park is rebuilt each year (with a different theme)! In 2021 I paid just ¥100 ($15), but this low price was presumably down to the pandemic and low visitor numbers.

Book your ticket to the largest ice and snow festival in the world. Click here to check availability or use the widget below.

What is there to do at the ice and snow festival in Harbin?

Aside from witnessing the incredible sculptures up close, many can be climbed and explored. Some of the sculptures include ice slides, skating rinks, and even ice-cycling tracks!

What facilities are there at Ice and Snow World?

There are restaurants on-site, including a KFC and Pizza Hut erected just for the festival. There are of course Chinese restaurants, drinks stands and an ice post office where you can send a letter! Toilets are available on site (thankfully not made of ice).

Ice Sculpture Park
Ice Sculpture Park

How Long Should I spend at Harbin Ice and Snow World?

You should allow two to four hours to explore the ice sculptures, however, this will depend on your threshold for handling the cold. It’s possible to see everything in around an hour if you rush.

How Should I Dress for the Harbin Ice Festival?

It will come as no surprise that standing in a field surrounded by ice in the coldest part of China, where temperatures can drop below -30 Celcius is a rather cold experience. You must wrap up warm with a down jacket, good gloves, and thick socks. You can buy pocket hand-warmers on-site for ¥10 (less than a dollar).

Can I take photographs at the Harbin Ice Festival?

Of course it’s possible to take some amazing photos at the Harbin Ice Festival, but bear in mind that the extreme cold can affect battery life. On my 2021 visit, I had no problems with my camera, but the drone I was using packed up very quickly and I could not re-warm the batteries. You can see the footage I did get here!

Buddha Made of Snow
Buddha Made of Snow

How do I get to Harbin?

Harbin is easily reachable from Beijing by plane and train. Flights take 2 hours and cost around ¥500 ($75).

The fast train takes between 6 and 9 hours (there is a new service as of 2021 which takes just 4 hours and 52 minutes). 2nd Class seats cost ¥300 ($46) for the slower trains and ¥600 ($92) for the faster ones.

You can book flights and trains directly through Trip.com.

Read my guide on buying train tickets in China for detailed information and how you can now purchase an E-ticket online.

Personal Experiences

I have visited Harbin Ice and Snow World twice; the first time when I lived in Harbin in 2016 and the second time in 2021. The first time I visited I found the festival a little underwhelming and extremely cold (well, obviously). I suspect I didn’t see all of the sculptures the first time and rushed my visit.

However, when I returned in five years later, I was completely blown away and spent much longer exploring (with a break midway for some hot food which I think helped). The Harbin Ice Festival is akin to one of the modern wonders of the world and should not be missed!

Harbin Ice and Snow World
Harbin Ice and Snow World

Where to stay in Harbin?

I stayed at the Xiwu Boutique Express Hotel next to Harbin East Railway Station. The room was ¥250 ($40) per night, in a great location next to the subway and the room was large, warm and comfortable. You can book directly through Trip.com.

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative then you can find many hostels across the city on Hostelworld.

What else is there to see in Harbin?

St Sophia Cathedral

Saint Sophia Cathedral
Saint Sophia Cathedral

Harbin is famed for its Russian influences, as the city was created for workers of the Trans-Siberian railway. As a result, there is a lot of interesting Russian architecture to explore such as St Sophia Cathedral and the area around “Walking Street”.

Central “Walking” Street

Central Street
Central Street

Walking Street or “Russian Street” is the longest pedestrian street in China. It is lined with small ice sculptures (in winter), souvenir shops, bakeries, restaurants and more. Most of these have a Russian theme.

Songhua River

Ice Block
Ice Block from the frozen Songhua River

The Songhua River (a tributary of the Amur River) freezes from late November to March and the ice is up to two meters thick.

If you head to the end of the walking street by the Fire Monument, you can walk onto the river where there are many activities such as buggies, skating, skiing and more. In years past it was free, but in 2021 they started to charge.

Unit 731 Museum

Unit 731 Museum
Unit 731 Museum

For those with a morbid fascination or an interest in history, you can visit the Unit 731 Museum which houses a series of displays about Shiro Ishii’s notorious chemical and biological weapons testing site. Not for young children or those who are easily shocked. Read more about the Unit 731 Museum.


How much are Harbin Ice Festival tickets?

Tickets for the 2024 Harbin Ice Festival cost 300 yuan ($41) for adults and 200 yuan ($28) for children and the elderly.

What month is the Harbin Ice Festival?

The Harbin Ice Festival runs from late December to mid-March each year. The 2024 festival will officially open on 5th January, but some attractions will be open from 20th December.

When to visit Harbin Ice Festival?

The best time to visit the Harbin Ice Festival is in February when the crowds have started to thin. If you don’t mind lots of people, then the official opening on 5th January is also a great time to visit with a lively, party atmosphere.

Conclusion – Is Harbin Ice Festival Worth It?

Having visited the Harbin Ice Festival a couple of times, I can say that it is without doubt worth visiting. The ice sculptures are incredible to see, and there are lots of fun activities to keep you entertained. Just be sure to wrap up warm!

Book your ticket to the largest ice and snow festival in the world. Click here to check availability or use the widget below.

Looking for more things to do in China? Check out this list of amazing China landmarks.

Dunhuang, Gobi Desert, China

About the author:

Steve Rohan is a writer from Essex, England. He has traveled to over 60 countries, lived in Armenia, China and Hong Kong, and is now living the digital nomad life on the road.

Steve prefers “slow travel” and has covered much of the world by train, bus and boat. He has been interviewed multiple times by the BBC and recently featured in the documentary Scariest Places in the World. See the About page for more info.

Where I am now: Yerevan, Armenia 🇦🇲

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