The festival going ahead as planned had been hailed as a mark of China’s success in containing and controlling the coronavirus. Many restrictions have been lifted throughout the country, with residents able to travel freely within China’s borders.
Now, though, small outbreaks in the nearby cities of Shenyang and Dalian have resulted in a change of plans. While the festival is still open and visitors can buy tickets to walk through and check out the works of ice art, events and performances have been canceled. That included a planned group wedding ceremony that was supposed to take place on January 5. An event organizer confirmed the changes to CNN.
Ice sculptures at the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province on January 5, 2021.
“All visitors need to strengthen precautions, present their health codes when entering the park, get their temperature measured, wear masks at all times, and keep a [safe] distance from others in the park,” read a statement shared on the festival’s social media pages on December 29.
New Year’s Eve celebrations and a fireworks display were also called off.
The annual festival is the world’s largest of its kind.
Every year, workers pull blocks of ice out of the Songhua River, which artists use as the material for their creations. Pressure is always on to outdo the year before, and 2021’s highlights include a “crystal palace,” a 220-square-foot fully functional “ice bar” and a scale model of China’s first aircraft carrier made entirely out of snow.
CNN’s Hannah Zheng in Beijing also contributed reporting.