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An Ice City Rises In Northern China (PHOTOS,VIDEO)

Ice World

First Posted: 01/04/12 08:24 AM ET Updated: 01/05/12 08:55 AM ET

Every winter, Siberian winds bear down on Harbin, China, prompting the city's 10 million citizens to go outside for a party.

The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is an enormously popular attraction that overlaps with China's busiest travel period and has, over the years, offered attendees all manner of refrigerated treats. The festival is, after all, not so much an ice sculture gallery as an ice World's Fair. For months leading up to the opening, ice-construction workers struggle with massive blocks of frozen Songhua River water and then shape them into gleaming towers and extravagant sculptures. Churches, massive beer bottles and giant bodies rise from the freezing ground.

With the 2012 festival set to start on January 5, Harbin has been buzzing with activity. The final touches must be put on this year's big projects: an ice maze, a hill for tubing and a sculpture of ice children rolling an ice snowball that seems ripe for metaphorical interpretation. As The Telegraph discovered, an ice city isn't built in a day.

Check out photos and video from the event below.

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  • Ice scupltures are displayed at the annual Ice and Snow festival in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang province on January 5, 2011. Fairy tale palaces, towering pagodas, and even an Egyptian Sphynx -- all carved from ice -- are among the sights at this year's Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, as the annual event, now in its 26th year, pulls crowds from across China and even a few visitors from overseas, drawn to the unique visions of an international roster of sculptors who illuminate their creations with multicolored electric lights encased in the translucent ice. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

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Filed by Andrew Burmon  |