A two-month-long International Harbin Ice and Snow Festival began in Heilongjiang province in China on January 5.

Local and foreign ice sculptors have exhibited their bestcreations.The $19 million spectacle is spread over 150 acres.

Russian castles and sculptures will be on display to mark the "tourism year of Russia" in China in 2012.

Between January-September 2011, the number of Chinese tourists to Russia went up by 52 percent, official figures suggest.

Apart from the display of ice sculptures, 30 other events will take place, including a reindeer parade, a group wedding, and a free-access ice fairyland, according to Xinhua.net.

Visitors can stroll around or navigate on horses available at the show. Harbin is one of coldest cities in China and is commonly referred to as "the ice city."

The first snow show was organised in Harbin's Zhaolin Park in 1963. The festival was discontinued during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) and restarted in 1985.

Last year, over one million people visited the show, and this year the organisers expect a 20 percent increase in visitors.

The show is now in the league of other major ice and snow festivals like the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan, the Winter Carnival in Quebec City in Canada and Norway's Ski Festival.

Tourists visit ice sculptures on the night before the opening ceremony of the Harbin Ice and Snow World in Harbin.Reuters
A tourist slides down an ice sculpture on the night before the opening ceremony of the Harbin Ice and Snow World in Harbin.Reuters
Tourists visit ice sculptures on the night before the opening ceremony of the Harbin Ice and Snow World in Harbin Jan. 5, 2012.Reuters
A tourist poses for a photograph in front of a snow sculpture depicting the famous painting "Barge Haulers on the Volga" in Harbin.Reuters
An employee pulls a dog sled carrying tourists in front of a snow sculpture ahead of the Ice and Snow World festival in Harbin.Reuters