By this time last year, Beijing had already enjoyed a few days of the glorious frosty snow that kids love and adults loath. With so many snow days in town, we did not even consider visiting the Bird’s Nest Snow Festival inside the National Stadium. This winter, however, Beijing has been left high and dry, so on a whim we headed to the Bird’s Nest to check out the festivities.
For me, part of the appeal was simply to get up close and inside the stadium. Like many in Beijing, I attended the Olympics back in August 2008 (just a mere 849 days ago and counting). And like many, I did not have tickets to any of the events inside the Bird’s Nest. Consequently, getting inside the stadium had been on my to do list for quite some time.
The entertainment began from the moment the taxi dropped us at the curb. After the traditional “running of the peddlers” (cheap toys, trinkets and “I was here” portraits) we had to clear two security checkpoints. Even though it was opening weekend and the weather was warm, there were not very many people at the Olympic Green, so it made peddler dodging all the more tricky, but the stroller (a.k.a pram) came in handy for keeping them at bay.
Inside the stadium, the entire track and field had been covered in about a foot (a.k.a 30cm) of grade A artificial snow. As we descended the seating area and stepped onto the field, a drum team was beating out a lively tune at the other end of the track beneath the Snow Cartoon Castle (not made of snow). Reina enjoyed the slides on the castle so much she hiked up the stairs at least a dozen times so she could hurl herself back down. My favorite part about the Castle was notice number 4 which stated, “Keep safety in mind. Settle any unpleasant arguments or collision through mediation. The Organizer is not responsible for any of this.” That’s the kind of can do empowerment that kids armed with snowballs need.
In addition to the castle, there were inner tubes to rent, a snow maze, a huge obstacle course, ice-skating, tug of war, bumper cars, another obstacle course involving helmets and a harness, a DIY chocolate factory and lots of loud music. There was also a second gauntlet of humans to navigate, but this time it was the press. As Xu Fan, a 30-year-old reporter from the China Daily, interviewed me, a BTV camera crew filmed Reina and Savvy. Seems we were the only obvious foreigners in attendance that morning.
Off the track and under the stadium, there was a “food street” with ten or so different vendors selling noodles, sausages, rice bowls, soups and, of course, Dairy Queen. We found that RMB 50 each was more than adequate to fill ourselves up before going back on the snow in the afternoon. Our favorite delicacy was the hot chocolate inside the World Chocolate Wonderland DIY store.
The Snow Festival is not cheap, but considering the location and the range of activities available, I think it is worth a visit and we will consider going back, unless, of course, it snows. In that case, you’ll find us at one of the city’s many parks. Anyone fancy a game of speed chair skating?
The admission price for weekdays is RMB120 for adults and RMB 100 for students. The weekend and holiday rate is RMB 180 for adults and RMB 160 for students. Children under 1.2 meters are free, but do not have access to many of the more risky activities such as the obstacle course and bumper cars. There are additional fees for renting equipment such as skis, ice skates and inner tubes. The Snow Festival is open daily from 9am-5pm. For more information, call 84373008.