Our region is known for long cold winters. Outsiders often wonder how we survive through them. The truth is we don’t survive winter-we celebrate it! Winter is a chance for the citizens of Wood Buffalo to strap on a pair of snowshoes, slap on a pair of skis, put on their skates, or jump onto a snowmobile and enjoy the great outdoors!
Another way we enjoy our winter paradise is through our annual winter festival, WinterPLAY. WinterPLAY is an opportunity for winter lovers to party in the ice and snow. The festival features The Shoot Out on the Syne, a 3 on 3 hockey tournament where weather hardened Wood Buffalans battle it out for hockey supremacy.
There’s also the outdoor stage where people can dress in their snazziest pair of snow pants to dance and sing to live performances.
Then there is the WinterPLAYGROUND a magical place where rosy cheeked children can play, wander, and explore stunning ice sculptures, snow mazes, and ice castles.
The citizens of Wood Buffalo love their winters but there is one city that may love it even more. Harbin, the capital city of Heilongjiang Province in northeast China is also known for its artic climate with provides an abundant amount of snow and ice. Like Wood Buffalo, the people of Harbin decided to turn their long, cold, winters into a positive by creating the largest ice sculpture festival in the world!
The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, established in 1985, is held annually on January 5th and lasts for over one month attracting hundreds of thousands of local people and visitors from all over the planet.
Nicknamed the 'Ice City' of Harbin, it is recognized as the cradle of ice and snow art in China and is famous for its exquisite and artistic ice and snow sculptures.
The festival attracts some of the top ice sculpture experts and artists from around the world who gather to compete in the many ice sculpting competitions. The festival also hosts many winter sporting competitions such as ice-skating and sledding. Weddings, parties and other entertainment add to the overall celebration of this incredible ice city.
The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is truly remarkable giving the WinterPLAY festival something to aspire to.