The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in China opened on Tuesday after weeks of painstaking labour and busy scenes of forklifts, cranes and scaffolding.

The dazzling annual festival in the country’s north-east Heilongjiang province is one of the biggest ice and snow festivals in the world.

Preparations start weeks in advance, with workers mining ice from the surface of the Songhua River over long, gruelling shifts.

As China’s international borders are heavily restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic, domestic tourists are expected to account for the bulk of visitors marvelling at the frozen dreamscapes.

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