Photo taken on January 7, 2017 shows an ice hockey match after the opening ceremony of the first Ice Hockey Festival in Qiqihar, Heilongjiang Province. [Photo: people.cn]
Ice Hockey enthusiasts are gathering in Qiqihar, in China's northernmost province of Heilongjiang, for the city's inaugural Ice Hockey Festival.
The festival features international ice hockey tournaments, as well as cultural shows and fun activities such as snow soccer.
The President of the Chinese Ice Hockey Association Zhao Yinggang said the festival will help lay a solid foundation for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics Games.
"We hope more people will love and participate in ice and snow sports, ice hockey in particular. The atmosphere will no doubt trigger the enthusiasm of people for such sports and more people will be enthusiastic about the Winter Olympic Games."
Ice hockey attracts people of all ages in the city, including a 9-year-old boy who said he loves playing ice hockey and hopes the sport will attract more of his classmates and friends.
"I want to be a member of the national team. I want to make a contribution to the Chinese people and win honor for our motherland," he added.
Qiqihar established its own ice hockey team in 1954, and the team has won the national and league championships more than 30 times.
In 2015, the Asian Ice Hockey Federation dubbed the city the "Best Ice Hockey City in Asia".
The festival will run for two months until March.