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Harbin Ice and Snow Festival: China's city of illuminated ice
Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Harbin, one of China's coldest cities, is home to massive ice sculptures that have been created for a special winter festival that attracts millions of visitors every year.

Harbin's Ice and Snow festival, one of the largest ice-carving festivals in the world, officially starts on Jan. 5 and lasts at least one month or longer, weather permitting.

The sculptures, cut from the frozen surface of the nearby Songhua River, are illuminated with colorful lights at night.

Check out a panorama of the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival:

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Ice scupltures are displayed at the annual Ice and Snow festival in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang province on January 5, 2011. Fairy tale palaces, towering pagodas, and even an Egyptian Sphynx -- all carved from ice -- are among the sights at this year's Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, as the annual event, now in its 26th year, pulls crowds from across China and even a few visitors from overseas, drawn to the unique visions of an international roster of sculptors who illuminate their creations with multicolored electric lights encased in the translucent ice.

(STR - AFP/Getty Images)
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Harbin, China. Jan. 5, 2011.

(STR - AFP/Getty Images)
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Harbin, China. Jan. 6, 2012.

(STR - AFP/Getty Images)
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A general view of the 26th Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival on January 24, 2010 in Harbin, China. The sculptures and buildings are built from ice blocks cut from the frozen surface of the nearby Songhua river. The festival will remain open until February.

(Adam Pretty - Getty Images)
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Harbin, China. Jan. 24, 2010.

(Adam Pretty - Getty Images)
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Harbin, China. Jan. 24, 2010.

(Adam Pretty - Getty Images)
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Harbin, China. Jan. 5, 2010.

(STR - AFP/Getty Images)
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An ice sculpture of the Sphinx at the 26th Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival on January 24, 2010 in Harbin, China.

(Adam Pretty - Getty Images)
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Harbin, China. Jan. 5, 2010.

(STR - AFP/Getty Images)
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Fireworks are displayed as tourists visit the ice buildings on display at the Grand Ice and Snow World, part of the 23rd Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival on January 5, 2007 in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, China. Harbin is one of China's coldest cities and each winter hosts an ice festival, with famous buildings and landmarks from around the world recreated in ice.

(Cancun Chu - Getty Images)
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Tourists view ice buildings on display in the Grand Ice and Snow World at 23rd Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival on January 5, 2007 in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province in north China.

(Cancun Chu - Getty Images)
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Ice sculptures on display in Zhaolin Park at the 23rd Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival on January 5, 2007 in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province in north China.

(Cancun Chu - Getty Images)
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Chinese PLA soldiers look at ice sculptures in a park in the northern Chinese city of Harbin, 04 January 2007. As temperatures here can plummet to -40 degrees Celcius in winter the city of Harbin annually holds a month long ice festival starting with the 23rd Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival 05 January.

(Peter Parks - AFP/Getty Images)
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Visitors pose in front of a snow sculpture of the Temple of Heaven during the 26th Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival on January 24, 2010 in Harbin, China.

(Adam Pretty - Getty Images)
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Workers prepare for the opening ceremony of the 23rd Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival at the Grand Ice and Snow World on January 5, 2007 in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province in north China.

(Cancun Chu - Getty Images)
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A couple brave freezing temperatures to take pictures in front of giant snow sculptures in a park in the northern Chinese city of Harbin, January 6, 2007. The city of Harbin is hosting its month-long 23rd International Ice and Snow Festival with snow and ice sculptures on display throughout the city.

(Peter Parks - AFP/Getty Images)
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A person inspects a huge Buddha during the 26th Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival on January 24, 2010 in Harbin, China.

(Adam Pretty - Getty Images)
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A worker paints an ice sculpture red in a park in the northern Chinese city of Harbin, January 4, 2007. As temperatures here can plummet to -40 degrees Celcius in winter the city of Harbin annually holds a month-long ice festival starting with the 23rd Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival January 5.

(Peter Parks - AFP/Getty Images)
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A tourist walks past a large building of ice illuminated with color lights at the Zhaolin Park, part of the 22nd Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival on January 9, 2006 in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province in north China.

(Cancan Chu - Getty Images)
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It's a lovely thing when shared traditions unite so many different people.
Organizers will now submit their claim for a new record to Guinness World Records, which is expected to rule on it within two months.