China’s annual ice festival in Harbin has kicked off with couples lining up for a snow-themed mass wedding, swimmers braving frigid waters and frozen palaces rising from the ground, AFP said.

Fireworks marked the festival’s opening on Sunday night as tourists wandered between colourfully illuminated ice towers and monuments in the northeastern city.

Earlier in the day, 43 brides in lace wedding gowns and down jackets waited in line with grooms to take part in a “mass ice and snow wedding”, according to AFP.

A few brave swimmers plunged into a pool carved from the frozen Songhua River on a day when temperatures stayed below minus seven degrees Celsius (19 Fahrenheit) even in the afternoon.

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