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Harbin Weather: Ice Festival Temperature & Packing

With the same latitude as Montreal in Canada, Harbin has a cold continental climate:

  • Winter (November to March): long, dry, and frozen
  • Summer (June to August): short, humid, and warm
  • Spring (April–May) and autumn (September–October): transitional seasons lasting for a short time with rapid changes in temperature

Every year around mid-November, the first snow falls in Harbin. A month later, the Songhua River, running through Harbin city, begins its 5-month frozen period.

In January, when the Ice Festival officially opens to the public, the temperature cools to -25°C (-13°F). January is the coldest month in Harbin. It is the best month to enjoy the annual Harbin Ice Festival .

Harbin is not always cold. In July, there are around 20 days when temperatures can reach up to 33°C (91°F), though the average temperature is around 23°C (73°F) in summer.

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Harbin Average Temperatures by Month

Harbin Temperature by Month
Harbin Weather Temperature (high) Temperature (low)
January -13 8.6 -25 13
February -8 17.6 -21 -5.8
March -11 12.2 2 35.6
April 13 55.4 0 32
May 22 71.6 8 46.4
June 27 80.6 14 57.2
July 29 84.2 19 66.2
August 27 80.6 17 62.6
September 21 69.8 9 48.2
October 13 55.4 0 32
November 0 32 -11 12.2
December -10 14 -20 -4

When Does Harbin Start to Snow?

Harbin Snowfall by Month

The first snow in Harbin usually comes in mid-November. The snowy season will last until April. The snowy days can be as many as 9 days or more in November and January. It snows most in November by volume.

If you are looking to enjoy snowy days while enjoy the Ice and Snow Festival, come in January or late December to meet both of your requirements. The official opening ceremony of the Ice Festival is predicted to be on January 5th, 2024, but the ice and snow sculptures are open to public viewing around the Christmas period of 2023. The festival will last till late February.

What to pack for the Harbin Ice Festival tour?

  • Sub-zero clothing
  • Wear sunglasses, or better still snow glasses, to prevent snow blindness.
  • Frostbite prevention
  • Protect your camera batteries and mobile phones

The Best Time to Visit Harbin

The best time to visit Harbin is from December to February when the weather is continuously freezing cold and its distinctive winter activities are held.

The most anticipated activity is attending the annual Harbin Ice Festival. Though formally open to the public on January 5, the sparkling ice and snow sculptures are on display from December 17th till late February, lasting around 3 months each year. Visiting Harbin around Christmas or on January 5 for the Opening Ceremony, you can enjoy the greatest festive atmosphere in Harbin. Other winter activities, like ice slides, ice biking, and snow tube slides, are waiting for you throughout winter.

Yabuli Ski Resort is fully open from mid-November. Staying in China's first skiing-themed Club Med offers you the best skiing experience in China, with an all-inclusive service covering skiing trails of different levels. Yabuli Club Med is only 1½ hours by bullet train or 3 hours by car from Harbin. See more on China Ski Resorts >>

Further to the southeast, within another 2 hours' drive, you will reach a winter paradise — China Snow Town, the best place to feel the charm of snowy scenery. Climb to a viewing platform and overlook the snow-capped mushroom-like houses. Splash out some hot water from a bottle and make a "water firework" (an instant powder snow explosion) in mid-air!

Contact us with your ideas for your ideal custom-designed Harbin tour. Alternatively, see our popular Harbin tours below, which can be customized to meet your requirements.

4-Day Harbin Ice Wonderland and Short Ski Tour
See the marvelous ice and snow sculptures and enjoy a short ski tour view more

Harbin Weather in Winter (November–March): Frozen Continuously

Harbin Ice Festival Harbin Ice Festival

Harbin's winter comes in late October, with temperatures first touching the freezing point.

The first snow normally falls in October, and then November has the largest amount of snow (around 30 mm). Over the next two months, the weather becomes severely cold and dry, with an extreme minimum temperature of -38°C (-36°F) with occasional blizzards.

The weather gets noticeably warmer in late February but still averages sub-zero temperatures. Harbin weather in March is hard to predict as temperatures oscillate around freezing point, with an average temperature range of 12°C (54°F).

Air pollution amasses frequent in winter. Especially in January, when there may be around 10 poor air quality days.

Sunset occurs at around 4 pm in mid-winter. You are advised to prepare your daily schedule well when touring Harbin to take advantage of the few daylight hours.

Clothing and Packing for Harbin in Winter

Central heating usually runs continuously from mid-October, and so you won't feel cold indoors throughout the winter, and you can even just wear shirts and shorts in your hotel rooms or in public indoor areas. But don't be fooled!...

For outdoor activities, make sure you wear down jackets, thermal underwear, snow boots, hats, scarves, and gloves. Maybe also wear a mask to protect your nose and snow goggles to protect your eyes. Frostbite is a real risk.

In summary, dress in layers for Arctic conditions outdoors, but wear clothes that are convenient to take off indoors. More about keeping warm in Harbin >>>

Pay attention to hydrating, and make sure you use lip balm and moisturizer, as winters are very dry. Eat some high-vitamin fruits, like oranges and berries, to aid the absorption of moisture.

Harbin Weather in Spring (April–May) — Dry with Strong Winds

Spring in Harbin is a transitional season that lasts for a short time with dry, strong winds (it's the windiest season of the year) and rapid changes in the temperature, which may rise and fall by 20°C (36°F) daily.

The weather gets warmer quickly over April and May, averaging around 10°C (18°F) warmer per month. Rainfall increases from low to moderate amounts but overall it is dry.

In the spring season, when Harbin's plants come back to life, parks are good places to go for blooming flowers, such as:

  • Zhaolin Park — beautiful winter jasmine
  • Heilongjiang Forest Botanical Garden — peonies, tulips, apricot blossom, etc.
  • Guliyuan (Ancient Pear Garden) — pear blossom

Clothes and Packing for Harbin in Spring

Prepare a warm coat, sweaters, and layers. Wearing light layers is most practical, which are easy to take on and off and stow in a backpack in the changeable weather.

Harbin Weather in Summer (June–August): Warm/Hot and Humid

St. Sophia Cathedral in HarbinSt. Sophia Cathedral in Harbin

Summer in Harbin begins around June, when it can become hot and humid, but usually not as hot as other major cities in China, making Harbin a good summer retreat.

Though 60% of the annual rainfall falls in July and August, it's still only moderate amounts (around 140 mm or 5 inches per month). The average number of rainstorm days is around 1 or 2, and extremely heavy rainstorms are rare.

The sun rises early in the morning in Harbin in summer, sometimes as early as around 3:30 am. You can expect daylight of over 15 hours when touring Harbin in summer.

Visiting cool places in the middle of the day and seeing the architecture at dusk is recommended in summer:

  • Visit Sun Island to see the Ice and Snow Gallery in the heat of the day.
  • Go to Central Street to appreciate the beautiful night views of European-styled buildings and search for Harbin snacks in the evening.
  • Catch the charming beauty of St. Sophia Cathedral at dusk.

Clothes and Packing for Harbin in Summer

Prepare summer clothes, such as T-shirts, skirts, and shorts, and sun protection. You should bring a light jacket and trousers in case you feel cool in the early mornings or evenings. Carry an umbrella, which is handy for both rain and sun protection.

Harbin Weather in Autumn (September–October): Sunny and Clear

Volga Manor in AutumnVolga Manor in Autumn

Again, the weather is transitional and very changeable in fall, with big temperature differences between day and night of over 10°C (18°F). Rainfall is low to dry (57 mm to 25 mm). There are about 7–8 hours of sunshine per day.

Outdoor activities are perfect for autumn, like:

  • Visiting Volga Manor — an exotic garden themed with Russian buildings
  • Seeing the red leaves all over the mountains in Fenghuang Mountain National Forest Park
  • Wandering on Central Street — sample the shops and foods, and see old architecture of various styles

Clothes and Packing for Harbin in Autumn

Light layers are always practical and convenient for taking on and off in changeable weather. In September, prepare long-sleeve T-shirts and trousers for the day, and a sweater/jacket for early morning and evening. Prepare sweaters, an overcoat, and other warm winter clothes for October, when it can get cold enough to snow.

Harbin Weather by Month

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