In pictures: China’s Harbin kicks off annual ice and snow festival
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In pictures: China’s Harbin kicks off annual ice and snow festival

IGNORING sub-zero temperatures and biting Siberian winds, 400 swimmers plunged into an icy river in China’s northern city of Harbin on Thursday, the first day of the city’s annual ice and snow festival.

Winter swimming, as it is known in China, is enjoyed mainly by middle-aged and elderly people who believe it benefits their health. Thursday’s event saw swimmers from across China and abroad compete in an icy pool cut into the frozen Songhua river.

“Very exciting and pretty happy. My body feels super cool,” said Yu Dongbo, a 51-year-old visitor from the neighboring northern city of Daqing.

The 2017 Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival kicked off on Thursday and runs to the end of February.

In pictures: China's Harbin kicks off annual ice and snow festival

Artists and workers slog through the night to prepare ice sculptures. Pic: Reuters

In pictures: China's Harbin kicks off annual ice and snow festival

Workers pull a giant ice cube out of the frozen Songhua River as they extract ice to make sculptures for the festival. Pic: Reuters

In pictures: China's Harbin kicks off annual ice and snow festival

An artist polishes an ice sculpture for the festival. Pic: Reuters

In pictures: China's Harbin kicks off annual ice and snow festival

Artists and workers prepare a giant snow sculpture. Pic: Reuters

In pictures: China's Harbin kicks off annual ice and snow festival

Artists put the finishing touches on a giant snow sculpture. Pic: Reuters

In pictures: China's Harbin kicks off annual ice and snow festival

Tourists visit the festival as it officially kicks off in Harbin yesterday. Pic: Reuters

In pictures: China's Harbin kicks off annual ice and snow festival

Skaters perform during a mass wedding on the second day of the festival. Pic: Reuters

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