Harbin Ice Lantern

Harbin Ice Lantern

Harbin’s annual Ice Lantern Festival has been shedding beautiful light on cold winter months since 1963. Although the festival was postponed for a number of years during the Cultural Revolution, it was reinstated as an exciting part of the winter season in 1985. Harbin’s geographical location within Siberia’s icy stronghold makes it one of the world’s most developed winter weather cities, boasting a rich culture revolving around the area’s drastic annual amounts of ice and snow. The renound Ice Lantern Garden Festival begins every year on January 5th and runs until late February. The lantern designs range in simplicity, detail, and intricacy from traditional ice lanterns, to lanterns using the most advanced laser technology. The history of the traditional ice lantern can be traced back to farmers who harvested the Songnen Plane along the Songha River. In order to feed their horses, the farmers developed the ice lanterns as a light source during the dark winter months. Their method involved first freezing water in a bucket, then bringing it back into their home to heat it up slightly, just before it completely froze. They would then separate the ice from the bucket and create a hole in the center of the frozen shape from the bottom. After removing the water that was no longer frozen, a candle could be placed inside the cavity. The lanterns became popular among poorer families during the Chinese New Year because they could not afford to buy real lanterns to celebrate the festival. They soon became a symbol of winter culture, as well as the holiday season. As the lantern design became more advanced and popular the Ice Lantern Garden Festival developed, creating an arena to display the beautiful lanterns for all to enjoy.