Photo taken on Nov. 9, 2017 shows a scene of "Ice Land: Rainforest Holiday" in Galveston, Texas, the United States. To the delight of the crowds, 25 ice carvers from Harbin in China's Heilongjiang Province sculpted 136 kg blocks of colored ice into whimsical monkeys, butterflies, orchids and more to create "Ice Land: Rainforest Holiday" at Moody Gardens in Galveston, near Houston. (Xinhua/Robert Stanton)
by Robert Stanton
HOUSTON, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- They flew thousands of miles around the globe, and the CA&A Harbin Ruijing Carving Team from China did not disappoint as they unveiled their carving majesty at one of Texas' biggest holiday festivals.
To the delight of the crowds, 25 ice carvers from Harbin in China's Heilongjiang Province sculpted 136 kg blocks of colored ice into whimsical monkeys, butterflies, orchids and more to create "Ice Land: Rainforest Holiday" at Moody Gardens in Galveston, near Houston.
The inspiration for the Ice Land comes from the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in China. The Chinese team is led by artist Qui Guanghui, who has received top honors in international tournaments.
"What is different this year is the theme of the rainforest. No one else has done this before. It's unique. We will use a lot of different kinds of ice with more than 40-plus colors of ice," Qui told Xinhua.
The exhibition tent is kept at chilly minus 13 degrees centigrade throughout the holiday season to keep the ice frozen. The famous carvers created more than 100 carvings at the exhibit.
Bundled up in parkas provided by Moody Gardens, the guests at Ice Land experienced a frozen world of whimsical fantasy. They came face-to-face with monkey, birds, butterflies, orchids, ancient ruins and more as leaf-cutter ants carried Christmas lights and decorations to a magical place all carved from ice.
In the first scene, guests discovered a large clear ice Rainforest Pyramid, illuminated green from the inside - complete with Christmas lights to accent the holiday season.
Braving the cold, shivering bartenders served beer and cocktails to festival goers at a Shiver's Ice Bar, a one-of-a-kind bar with a Mayan Ruins theme. There is even a giant ice slide - the Artic Slide - that takes guests from the tree tops to the forest floor.
Ice Land is a major part of the Christmas holidays at Moody Gardens, also home to Festival of Lights that features twinkling colored lights, ice skating and breathtaking views sparkling across Galveston Bay.
Moody Gardens has become a holiday tradition for families throughout the region to enjoy Festival of Lights, an outdoor ice rink, a holiday buffet and train rides for the kids. Guests also enjoy new holiday 3D films, including "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4D film, and an exciting Cirque Joyeux Noel Dinner and Show at the Moody Gardens Hotel.
Kids marveled at Chinese lanterns with pandas and exotic flowers that lined the festival grounds. Holiday revelers strolled along a whimsical trail filled with sound-enhanced lighting and animated displays themed to holiday music
"Having it all culminate today was a lot of hard work by all of our thousands of employees here, and we're excited to have people come and celebrate the holidays with us," John Zendt, Moody Gardens President and CEO, said at the opening ceremony.
Residents of the Texas Gulf Coast are still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, which inundated the coast and flooded thousands of homes. The festivities provided an effective way to unwind and usher in the Christmas holidays.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with our neighbors affected by Hurricane Harvey," Zendt said. "We understand this holiday season will be different for families, who want to focus on spending time with one another, having fun and creating memories. There is something incredibly enchanting about all of these festive lights as you walk along the trail and we hope to offer a needed escape to our neighbors."
Indeed, Ice Land and Festival of Lights paved the way for folks to leave all their troubles behind.
"We're definitely in the Christmas spirit," said a park visitor holding his infant son. "My wife and I wanted to take Jonathan to see the lights. This is his first Christmas. We both grew up in Houston area, so we used to come down here and see the lights at Moody Gardens since we were kids."