China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By YANG YANG yangyangs@chi­

Bei­jing does not have a nat­u­ral cli­mate for ice lanterns. Ac­cord­ing to spe­cial­ists from Harbin, the well-known “cap­i­tal of ice lanterns”, the best ice for sculpt­ing should be formed in the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, the thick­ness should be above 30 cen­time­ters, and the fin­ished works should be kept at a tem­per­a­ture lower than mi­nus 3 C.

So when peo­ple at Work­ers Sta­dium de­cided to in­tro­duce Harbin’s ice lanterns into Bei­jing at the end of last year, they came across prob­lems like where to find proper ice ma­te­ri­als, and how to pre­serve the fin­ished ice art­works.

If you visit Work­ers Sta­dium now, you will see three huge, in­flat­able tents on the lanes, the long­est of which stretches 120 me­ters. In­side, 34 re­frig­er­at­ing ma­chines are work­ing day and night, try­ing to main­tain a sta­ble in­door tem­per­a­ture of mi­nus 5 C.

De­spite the re­frig­er­at­ing ma­chines, the tem­per­a­ture in­side the tents rose when the win­ter sun peaked at noon, mois­ture in­creased on smoggy days, and the num­ber of vis­i­tors swelled at night, gen­er­at­ing more body heat. As a re­sult, some ice sculp­tures melted a bit, so that part of the show was shut down.

Stacks of ice, carved into dif­fer­ent shapes of build­ings, an­i­mals, and hu­mans, are present with col­or­ful lights on to high­light the themes: sym­bolic build­ings in both Bei­jing and Harbin such as the Tem­ple of Heaven, nine dragon pil­lars in the For­bid­den City and Sophia Cathe­dral, and also Olympic torches and em­blems.

“Th­ese ice blocks are very good ice, trans­par­ent and strong. They were trans­ported from In­ner Mon­go­lia, 400 kilo­me­ters away,” said Yuan Hao, Sports Com­plex direc­tor of Bei­jing Work­ers Sta­dium.

“It’s not easy to find the proper ice. We tried Bei­jing’s Miyun and Yan­qing, and also Zhangji­akou, but at the be­gin­ning of De­cem­ber, ice in those places was not thick enough.

So we went north to find ice in In­ner Mon­go­lia and on the morn­ing of Dec 5, we were very happy to find that ice there had reached 30-cm thick,” he said.

The ice, di­vided into blocks 1.2 me­ters long and 1 me­ter wide, had to be “dried” in nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment for a day be­fore be­ing put in trucks and trans­ported to Bei­jing.

Cre­at­ing the ice lanterns con­sumed 3,000 cu­bic me­ters of ice, which had been trans­ported to Bei­jing on 100 trucks.

One hun­dred and fifty crafts­peo­ple were sent to Bei­jing from Harbin, who worked on the ice lanterns on three shifts a day. Later an­other 30 ice artists ar­rived so as to guar­an­tee the whole project would be fin­ished by Dec 29.

Fif­teen win­ners of the in­ter­na­tional ice sculp­ture com­pe­ti­tion on Jan 17 and 18 are also pre­sented at Work­ers Sta­dium, in­clud­ing The Dream of Em­peror Pen­guins and Lin Daiyu Bury­ing Flow­ers.

Vis­i­tors com­ing to Work­ers Sta­dium can play on the ice rink snow in the day­time, and in the evening, they can ei­ther en­ter the in­flat­able tents to en­joy the ice lanterns, or watch cloth lanterns from Zigong in Sichuan prov­ince.

“We tried to com­bine the north lan­tern from 1,200 kilo­me­ters away with the south lan­tern from 1,600 kilo­me­ters away, and present them to the au­di­ence in Bei­jing,” Yuan said.

Fifty crafts­peo­ple from Zigong were sent to Bei­jing to make the cloth lanterns for a whole month. Vis­i­tors can see a huge bowl, 5 me­ters in di­am­e­ter, in­stalled on the stand. It rep­re­sents the bowl that Bei­jingers use to eat (noodles with soy­bean paste).

Vis­i­tors can also see paint­ed­face fig­ures from Bei­jing Opera, and also a dragon, on whose back rides a totem pil­lar and three Chi­nese char­ac­ters mean­ing Chi­nese dream, which are pre­sented in the form of cloth lanterns.

To make the lan­tern show per­fect, an LED peach- blos­som sea was in­stalled on the 6,000-square-me­ter green field. In the evening, the peach blos­soms will light up in a beau­ti­ful sea of pink.

The show con­tin­ues un­til Feb 13. On Feb 17, Work­ers Sta­dium will re­sume its nor­mal role as a site for ath­letic events, host­ing a play­off of the Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion.


Clock­wise from top: Ice lan­tern masters from Harbin work on the ice sculp­tures at Work­ers Sta­dium; snow scu­pl­ture; Fra­grant Hills Pagoda.

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