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People visit ice sculptures illuminated by coloured lights during a trial operation ahead of the 31st Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in the northern city of Harbin, Heilongjiang province, January 4, 2015. The winter festival will be officially opened on January 5, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A nighttime trial of the colored lights in the huge ice city.

Photos of the epic Harbin ice and snow festival that’s about to start

By Kevin J. Delaney

Photos are starting to be published of the 31st annual International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, which starts on Jan. 5.

Harbin first held an ice lantern festival in 1963 and has come to be known for its snow and ice sculpture festivals. Last year the festival included an elaborate ice castle intended to look like a branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the nation’s biggest bank.

Here are some of the highlights from the 2015 edition.

Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A maze of ice bricks.
Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
One of the ice castles.
Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
An ice slide.
Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Ice sculptures during the daytime.