Bright lights, big slide ... in Harbin, China. (Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)
While many people prefer to hunker down during the winter months, you might think differently if you lived in Harbin, China.
Though this city is located in Heilongjiang, the country's northernmost (and coldest!) province, people here have spent decades perfecting strategies for fending off the winter blues and staying active in a subzero climate.
The general attitude in Harbin is that when life gives you icicles, make ice castles! What that means for residents is that, in addition to skiing, snowmobiling and winter swimming, the best way to relish the season is to organize an elaborate two-month-long ice and snow festival.
Known officially as the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, this winter cultural event features larger-than-life snow sculptures, as well as entire buildings, slides and mazes created from ice cut from the nearby Songhua River. When the sun goes down, the frosty mini-city takes on an entirely new character as it's illuminated with a psychedelic rainbow of lights.
For a glimpse of what it's like to experience the festival's vivid winter wonderland, check out the video below:
It's a stunning sight, but if you can't make it there this year, continue below for a frosty taste of what you're missing!
People wander in a colorful maze at the Harbin fest. (Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)
When you're dressed for winter activities, they're so much more fun! (Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images)
The ice city — made from ice cut from the nearby Songhua River — sparkles with color at night. (Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)
It's cold, sure, but the selfie stick moves along the photo-taking portion of the evening. (Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images)
It takes hours to see all the different elements of the Harbin ice structures. (Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)
She's dressed and ready for her igloo encounter. (Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers bundle up against the cold. (Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images)
These carnival horses don't move like a merry-go-round, but are colorful. (Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)
A child makes the most of the slide by going down on her belly. (Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)
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Take a stroll through China's vibrant 'Ice City'
Harbin's annual ice and snow festival boasts larger-than-life snow sculptures as well as buildings, slides and mazes made entirely of ice.