The best time to enjoy ice, snow and the relative activities is from December to February of the next year, when the weather is freezing cold.
Harbin Ice and Snow Festival usually run on December 20 every year. On January 5, it's formally open to the public. The people living in Harbin have the custom of visiting relatives. So, the first five days during the Spring Festival is relatively cold and cheerless. You'd better go to Harbin during the holidays of the Christmas Day or after January 5th. In this way, you won't miss the greatest pleasure of Harbin. More on Harbin Weather.
In Harbin, the weather is cold and dry in winter. It is necessary to wear down jackets, woollen pants, snow boots, hats, scarves and gloves. Because the weather is very dry, it is suggested that you wear a mask to protect your nose and keep off the dust.
Tourists can buy all the winter outfits in Harbin, and at very good prices. For safety concerns, it is not suggested to wear or buy outfits in white color, because with snow all over the city, especially at ski resorts, white clothes might make it not easy for others to notice you and cause possible collision.
Hand warmers, foot warmers and heating pads are available in stores and supermarkets, and at very low price. They are disposable small packets which produce heat, when stuck to (never directly onto the skin because this can cause burn) specific parts of the body, such as knees, belly and feet, and the heat can last about 10 – 12 hours.
When using electronic products outdoors, such as camera, mobile phone, PSP, or MP3, please try to keep them from the cold, and put them in the pocket or small bag whenever you finish using them, so that the battery will keep working. Taking one or two extra batteries is advisable.
Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival only started about 10 years ago, and it is already one of world's four biggest such ice and snow festivals, along with the famous ones in Sapporo, Norway and Quebec. The festival starts from December and lasts for about one month.
During the festival, tourists can enjoy the beautiful snow scenery and sculptures, and participate in all sorts of ice activities. Performance of winter swimming at Songhua River draws much attention. The highlights of the festival include Ice Lantern Festival held in Zhaolin Park, snow sculptures at Sun Island Scenic Spot, and ice sculptures at Grand World of Ice and Snow.