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Harbin's Hottest Event

Harbin's Ice and Snow Festival, an annual gala started in 1985, opened yesterday, drawing crowds of visitors to the city, capital of Heilongjiang Province in the northeast. 

More than 7,000 have flown in and 70,000 arrived by train everyday since December as the festival approached.

Most have come from major cities in other parts of the country as well as from Russia, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Southeast Asia.

Covering an area of 400,000 square meters and built with 120,000 cubic meters of ice and snow, a Grand Ice and Snow World has been created on Sun Island on the Songhua River, which traverses the northern part of the city from west to the east.

This year's gala has made many breakthroughs and innovations in scale and style, according to Du Chuandong, director of the Heilongjiang Provincial Tourism Bureau.

Besides the ice lantern garden party, ice and snow sculpture competition and a wedding ceremony on ice, a series of sports activities will also be held on the ice until the end of February, he said.
A swimming pool has been formed on the river by chiseling away the ice to accommodate swimmers. A car rally competition on ice, snow football, and various skiing competitions are also planned.

(China Daily January 6, 2005)

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