China's icy wonderland heads to Israel

Updated: 2012-01-05 13:49


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One of northern China's biggest winter attractions, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, is on the way to Jerusalem, as part of a world tour. "We have the pleasure of hosting the Chinese artists from Harbin," Zion Turgeman, CEO of Ariel, which produces the festival, told Xinhua on Wednesday. "

The dimensions of the festival will of course be smaller than the one in China, but I'm certain that visitors from the country and abroad would get a unique and exciting experience," Turgeman said. In an agreement signed with the festival's organizers, Jerusalem will display the talents and skills of no less than 35 professional Chinese ice-artists, who are set to arrive in February in order to create their famous sculptures in Israel.

The two month-long exhibition will feature Jewish themes, including stories from the Bible, historical monuments in Jerusalem, and famous children stories. Other area in the festival will include an ice-skating rink, a cinema, a concert stage, hot drink stands, and even a bar - all made out of ice.

Festival planners, however, ran into one big snag in transplanting the icy vision to the Middle East: Middle East weather.

In order to beat the heat, the organizers imported a portable 1, 500 sq-meter facility from Belgium, which they hope will be able to keep the sultry outdoors at bay, and the temperature inside at a frosty -10 degrees Celsius.

The Israeli designers also had to find a solution for the lack of raw materials: namely blocks of ice needed for the sculpting. So they came up with as specially-built ice machine, which can make 100 blocks a day, with each block measuring one meter long, by 50 centimeters wide, and 25 cm deep, and can produce transparent, white and colored sheens.

The Jerusalem municipality is expecting that the unique festival will attract hundreds of thousands of visitors.

"We hope that this festival will become an annual tradition, with a different theme every year," Turgeman said.

He added that Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is personally overseeing the project, and that they "invited representatives from the Heilongjiang province and the city of Harbin to be our guests this year, and we hope that this would become an anchor for future relations with the city of Harbin."