The northeastern Chinese city of Harbin held its first ice mining festival on the Songhua River on Saturday, kicking off the city's winter tourist season.
About 120,000 cubic meters of ice blocks will be mined this year and delivered to the Harbin Ice-Snow World, the main attraction of Harbin's winter tourism, where they will eventually be made into ice sculptures.
Despite the freezing temperatures, visitors to the ice mining event say it was great fun seeing the ice mining process and experiencing cultural events that were held on the frozen river during the festival.
"This is the first time to have this ice-mining festival and it's our first time here, which made us feel very lucky," said Zhai Hong, a tourist from Guizhou Province.
Ice mining spans over many generations and this left people from older generations feeling nostalgic, while those from the younger generations were thrilled about making their debut at the festival.
"This brings so much joy. I'm almost 70 this year and seeing the frozen pears, peaches and hawthorn, as well as the sugar-coated haws really takes me back to my childhood," said An Guole, a Harbin resident.
At the event, ice miners wearing coats and equipped with ice axes and forks, sang work songs while cutting the ice into rectangular blocks and dragging them out from the river.
The ice blocks collected from Songhua River are crystal clear with no impurity spots, making them perfect materials for creating ice architectures.