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Last Updated: Friday, 7 January 2005, 13:09 GMT
In pictures: Harbin ice festival

Ice sculpture

Thousands of visitors are flocking to China's Heilongjiang province for the 21st International Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin.

Cutting blocks of ice

Huge blocks of ice are cut from the ground in preparation for the festival in China's northernmost major city, known for its brutally cold winters.

A sculpture at work

During construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway Harbin was a bleak Russian outpost that remained below freezing for half the year. Today it is still freezing but there is now colour in all directions.

Ice sculpture

The scale of the sculptures on show is overwhelming, comprising 120,000 cubic metres of ice and snow in total.

Visitors walk on the ice pavement

Even the footpath is impressive - blocks of ice lit from below lead visitors around the huge site.

Climbing an ice sculpture

The sculptures are not just to look at. A visitor climbs an ice carving to ensure a front row seat for the fireworks...

Ice maze

...while others make their way through an ice maze.

Visitors in front of a sculpture

The festival attracts over 600 participants from more than 40 countries. Alongside the ice sculpture many sporting activities are planned for the coming days.





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