It had been interrupted for a number of years during the Cultural Revolution until it was resumed in 1985.
Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province of People's Republic of China, is one of the sources of ice and snow culture in the world.
The average temperature in summer is 21.2 degrees Celsius, -16.8 degrees Celsius in winter. It can be as cold as -38.1 degrees Celsius in winter.
Officially, the festival starts January 5th and lasts one month.
However the exhibits often open earlier and stay longer, weather permitting.
Ice sculpture decoration technology ranges from the modern (using lasers) to traditional (with ice lanterns).
There are ice lantern park touring activities held in many parks in the city.
Winter activities in the festival include Yabuli alpine skiing, winter-swimming in the Songhua River, and the ice-lantern exhibition in Zhaolin Garden.
The Harbin festival is one of the world's four largest ice and snow festivals, along with Japan's Sapporo Snow Festival, Canada's Quebec City Winter Carnival, and Norway's Ski Festival.