The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in China held its opening ceremony on Sunday 5 January, amid fireworks and celebrations.

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The annual festival, in China’s north-east Heilongjiang province, is one of the biggest ice and snow festivals in the world.

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About 220,000 cubic metres of ice and snow were reportedly used to build the ice world.

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AFP

Harbin International Ice and Snow FestivalImage copyright
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Visitors were treated to a towering frozen ice palace.

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There was even an ice steam train.

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The 36th Harbin Ice Festival began in 1963 and was interrupted for a few years because of China’s Cultural Revolution, resuming again in 1985.

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As well as towering ice structures, the festival includes activities like sledging, ice hockey, ice football, speed skating and Alpine skiing competitions.

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There are also swimming competitions in frozen water. Participants seen below are competing in the Songhua River.

Swimming competition at the Harbin International Ice and Snow FestivalImage copyright
EPA

Swimming competition at the Harbin International Ice and Snow FestivalImage copyright
EPA

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A highlight of the festival was a snow-themed group wedding ceremony. About 40 couples were reported to have got married this year.

A mass wedding ceremony at the Harbin International Ice and Snow FestivalImage copyright
EPA

A mass wedding ceremony at the Harbin International Ice and Snow FestivalImage copyright
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Harbin Ice Festival runs until 25 February 2020.

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