The residents of Harbin are dominated by the Han people mainly from Shandong Province and Hebei Province. In the 1920s and 1930s, Harbin had many foreign nationals, most of whom were from Russia. Due to the influence of the folk customs of non-local people and foreign nationals, Harbin people have formed a diverse dietary culture dominated by Northeastern local dishes, Shandong cuisine and Beijing cuisine. Russian food, mainly Sourdough Khleb (a kind of big bread), smoked sausage and Borscht have also become table foods of the ordinary people. Due to the influence of the folk customs of ethnic minorities, Harbin people also like to eat sticky rice cakes, sticky bean bread, corn pancakes, coarse corn porridge and millet rice.
It is a traditional folk group dance for entertainment and people doing the Yangge dance can be seen in the streets of Harbin throughout the years. During the Lantern Festival, Yangge dance competitions are held in all districts and counties (prefectures).
Errenzhuan or Two-people Rotation is a genre of local folk dance and song from Northeast China. It usually involves two performers, one male and one female. They sing and dance, using folded fans or square-shaped red handkerchiefs, which are twirled along as the songs are performed, during the dancing portion. It is very popular due to its humorous dialogue and sketches, which have eclipsed the old dances and songs. During the Chinese Spring Festival or some important events, Errenzhuan can be found in Harbin.
Winter swimming is a sports activity with rich cultural characteristics in Harbin, demonstrating the strong will of Harbin people. In winter, the outdoor temperature falls to -10°C, or even more than -20°C! Winter swimming enthusiasts break the ice on the Songhua River to open up ice swimming pools. People swim around 5 am or 6 am before the sun rises and winter swimming performance is usually given between 10 am and 2 pm in Songhua River during the annual Harbin Ice and Snow Festival.
Ice lantern fair has been held in Zhaolin Park since 1963. Being an important part of Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, it has become Harbin's representative ice and snow art.
In winter, children usually whip tops on ice. Ice topping is very popular with all children in Harbin.
Ice Collective Wedding
The collective wedding ceremony is held on ice and sponsored by Harbin Youth Palace every winter. It has become one of the components of the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival (Harbin Ice Festival).
Harbin people love beer and many people regard beer as ordinary drinks, with many people demonstrating the generosity and enthusiasm of northerners by drinking beer. Harbin has the earliest breweries in China, ranking first in per capita beer consumption in the country.