In pictures: Preparations for Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival 2016

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The annual Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival takes place in China's north-eastern province of Heilongjiang and is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people to see the sculptures.

Image source, Wang Zhao / AFP
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The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival officially opens on 5 January but preparations have been under way for some time.
Image source, Wu Hong / EPA
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The festival began in 1963 but was not held for many years before beginning again in 1985. This year's theme is Pearl on the Crown of Ice & Snow.
Image source, Wu Hong / EPA
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Workers have been putting the finishing touches to many of the sculptures.
Image source, Sheng Li / Reuters
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This large sculpture began to take shape in December as workers carved it out of the ice.
Image source, Aly Song / Reuters
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Here a worker polishes a delicate ice sculpture...
Image source, Aly Song / Reuters
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....while others are lifted by crane to the top of one of the larger pieces on show.
Image source, Wu Hong
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The ice is cut from the nearby river and teams from different countries take part in the event.
Image source, Imaginechina / Rex Features
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At night, the ice is illuminated with colourful light that draws tourists from all over the world.

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