As we prepare for our trip to the granddaddy of all ice-festivals this weekend I decided to reflect on our trip to Longqing Gorge (Longqingxia) around the same time last year. The ice and snow festivals in China are like no other and definitely something you don’t experience coming from the land down under!
Longqing Gorge is located in Beijing Yanking County, which is about 85 kilometers away from the Beijing centre. Each year, they host the Longqing Gorge Ice Festival, which runs from mid-January until about mid-February. Winter this year has been surprisingly cold so if you’re not prepared for Harbin then Longqing Gorge is the next best alternative.
But if you’re at the opposite end of the spectrum thinking “hey, I wish it was colder!” then Harbin is the place for you. I don’t think that phrase has ever entered my mind but I am super-charged, thermal-prepared for the cold that awaits us in Harbin. At last check, it was forecast to reach a top of – 6°C and a low of -19°C this Saturday which isn’t too bad considering it can get down to the minus 20s with an even colder “real feel” temperature. Did I mention I love the beach?
Back to Longqing Gorge, there is a different theme each year – last year’s theme was aligned to the bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Visitors were welcomed to “300 sets of festive lanterns, 1,000 tree lights, 350 ice lanterns, 200 ice sculptures, 100 snow carvings and 10,000-metre Great Wall light surrounding the mountains”.
We arrived by car late afternoon and stayed until about 7:30pm at night. It’s best to go in the evening to get the full-effect of the lights. There was plenty to see and explore – the colours were amazing and as we were leaving we were pleasantly greeted with a nice steady snowfall. It’s also amazing to see the lights that surround the Great Wall as you walk back to your transport.
Longqing Gorge is a great prelude to Harbin. I hear that it’s also amazing to visit in the warmer months so I look forward to exploring the area more. In the meantime, I need to check that I have enough warm gear packed for the trip ahead. Hand warmers, anyone?
Have you been to any amazing ice and snow festivals? Let me know in the comments area below.