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.