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Zhaolin Park is one of the three main competition and display venues of the world's biggest ice and snow festival in Harbin. The annual festival grew from a comparatively small fair in 1999 to become the world's biggest winter festival. Zhaolin Park is the display area for the ice lanterns and should be visited when it is dark.
Making ice lanterns has been a tradition in the area for centuries at least. The annual ice lantern displays in Zhaolin Park started in 1985. These built interest in starting an international festival in 1999.
This is the smallest display site of the International Ice and Snow Festival. More than a thousand ice lanterns are on display. These are works of art with a light glowing inside. Only a few are large in scale. Most are the contribution of locals, but some are serious contenders for awards and recognition.
Ice sculptors from about twenty countries carve and display their works on the site. Only a few reach two stories. Most people appreciate the work of the thousands of competitors, but many feel the twenty acre park doesn't hold a candle to the massive ice and snow monuments across the river. They are designed to be seen when it is dark, so they are bland to see during the day.
The little ice lanterns don't stand alone. There are massive ice sculptures across the river in the Ice and Snow World venue. There, the glowing towers of ice are animated with computer controlled high tech lightning. They may almost reach 50 meters tall. These are what most visitors want to see. They are big enough to walk inside and on and are unusually intricate and realistic.
Also across the river is Sun Island with a landscape of massive snow sculptures that are best seen during the day. Those too are record setting and draw large crowds during the festival.
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