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Bird's Nest opens winter snow gala

The iconic showpiece Bird's Nest has kicked off a winter wonderland in its bid to deal with its post-Olympic economic difficulty.

The 57,000 sq m area offers a ski slope, ice rink, snow sculptures and snow mountain and scooters. A total of 5,000 seats in the south part of the stadium have been removed and built into a snow slope.

According to Yang Cheng, the deputy general manager of National Stadium Co Ltd, the snow fun will be accompanied by festive activities, including rock and roll concerts, a Christmas celebration and a New Year's Eve party.

Bird's Nest officials said they had received over 6,000 visitors over the weekend after the festival started on Saturday. But officials said earlier they would need 5,000 visitors per day to cover the costs of the operation.

The snow festival cost 50 million yuan to prepare and about 25,000 tons of recycled water will be used to build the snow during the two-month festival.

Due to a relatively high temperature in early December that made it difficult to build the snow, the 10-m-high ski slope was not open during the weekend. It would take four or five more days to be ready.

The delay had disappointed visitors over the weekend. The stadium charged 140 yuan per ticket, 40 yuan less than original price because of the lack of the ski slope.

"The price was still a little expensive," said a woman surnamed Ouyang, who brought her 10-year-old daughter to ski.

They came to ski yesterday, but the closed ski slope disappointed them, she said.

The ski slope will be opened before Christmas, an official from the National Stadium Company said.

But some visitors said they had had a good time in the stadium.

"It was the longest period that my grandson had ever played outdoors," said Li Boping, a woman in her 60s who brought her 5-year old grandson to the Bird's Nest since yesterday morning and didn't leave for three hours.

"It was amazing to be able to ski inside the Bird's Nest," said Liu Fang, a female visitor who came with her colleagues yesterday.