Festival's a feast of freezing fun
Fairy-tale palaces, towering pagodas and even an Egyptian Sphynx are among the sights at this year's Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in northern China.
The annual event, now in its 26th year, pulls crowds from across China and even visitors from overseas, drawn to the unique visions of an international roster of sculptors who illuminate their creations with multi-coloured electric lights encased in the translucent ice.
The opening ceremony featured a fireworks display lighting up the sky above the festival's main site on Sun Island alongside the frozen Songhua River running to the north of Harbin, a metropolis as far north as Toronto that styles itself China's "ice city".
Past festival themes have included the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, while perennial motifs include famous Chinese tourist sites such as Beijing's Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China.
After looking at the sculptures spectators can take a ride on the ice slide - but are warned to get out of the way quickly as other thrill seekers zip down from behind.
Other hazards include elbow-to-elbow crowds at popular times of the night and intense cold temperatures that dipped to -16 degrees Celsius today amid light snow.