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When Is The Sapporo Snow Festival When Is The Sapporo Snow Festival


When Is The Sapporo Snow Festival

Written by: Dory Batiste

Experience the enchantment of the Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan's premier winter festival showcasing breathtaking ice sculptures, dazzling lights, and festive activities. Join us for an unforgettable Festival experience!

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The Sapporo Snow Festival is one of Japan’s most celebrated winter events, attracting millions of visitors from around the world every year. With its stunning ice sculptures, lively atmosphere, and a wide range of activities, the festival has become a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. Located in the city of Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido, the festival offers a unique opportunity to embrace the beauty of winter and immerse yourself in a winter wonderland.

Established in 1950, the Sapporo Snow Festival initially started as a small gathering of local high school students who built a few snow statues in Odori Park. Over the years, the festival has grown exponentially, now spanning over a week and featuring hundreds of intricate ice sculptures spread across multiple venues.

Every year, the Sapporo Snow Festival takes place in early February, coinciding with the region’s peak winter season. During this time, the city is covered in a thick blanket of snow, providing a breathtaking backdrop for the festival’s enchanting creations. Whether you’re a fan of winter sports, art, or simply want to experience the magic of a winter wonderland, the Sapporo Snow Festival offers an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.

As the festival has gained international recognition, it has attracted artists and participants from all over the world. The lineup of attractions and activities continues to evolve each year, offering something new and exciting for repeat visitors and first-timers alike. From massive snow sculptures depicting famous landmarks to intricate ice carvings that showcase the skills of talented artists, there is no shortage of awe-inspiring sights at the Sapporo Snow Festival.

In this article, we will delve into the history, dates, and locations of the festival, explore its main attractions and activities, discuss the famous sculpture contest, highlight the delicious food and refreshments available, offer tips for accommodations and travel, and even mention some other winter festivals in Japan. So prepare to get swept away by the magic of the Sapporo Snow Festival!


History of the Sapporo Snow Festival

The Sapporo Snow Festival has a rich history that dates back to 1950 when it was first started by a group of local high school students as a small event in Odori Park. The students built a few snow statues to attract visitors during the winter season, and little did they know that their efforts would lay the foundation for what would become one of Japan’s most iconic winter festivals.

In the early years, the festival was solely focused on showcasing snow sculptures created by local artists and volunteers. However, as news about the festival spread, it started to gain recognition not only within Japan but also internationally. Visitors from all over the world began flocking to Sapporo to witness the mesmerizing beauty of the intricate ice and snow creations.

Over time, the festival expanded both in terms of duration and scale. What was once a small gathering in one park now encompasses multiple venues throughout the city, attracting millions of visitors annually. Today, the Sapporo Snow Festival lasts for around seven days and features not only snow sculptures but also a wide array of activities and events.

Throughout its history, the festival has evolved to include not only traditional Japanese themes but also contemporary and international elements. The artists behind the snow sculptures have pushed the boundaries of their creativity, showcasing sculptures depicting famous landmarks, whimsical characters, and even scenes from popular movies and cartoons.

One of the key moments in the festival’s history was the Winter Olympics held in Sapporo in 1972. The event brought a global spotlight to the city and the Snow Festival, further solidifying its reputation as a must-visit winter destination. Since then, the festival has continued to grow in popularity and has become a platform for international artists and performers to showcase their talents.

Through the years, the Sapporo Snow Festival has undergone various transformations, adapting to the changing times and embracing new technologies. The festival now incorporates interactive light displays, live performances, and even ice-skating rinks, providing visitors with a dynamic and immersive experience.

As the festival approaches its seven-decade milestone, it remains a testament to the power of community spirit and creativity. It continues to draw people together, fostering a sense of wonder, joy, and appreciation for the beauty of winter. The Sapporo Snow Festival is not just an event, but a celebration of art, culture, and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of winter’s challenges.


Dates and Duration of the Festival

The Sapporo Snow Festival is held annually in early February, typically spanning over seven days. The exact dates of the festival may vary slightly from year to year, so it’s important to check the official website or local tourism resources for the most up-to-date information. However, the festival always falls within the first two weeks of February to take advantage of the region’s peak winter season.

During this week-long extravaganza, the city of Sapporo comes alive with vibrant energy and festive spirit. The festival begins with an opening ceremony where local dignitaries and artists gather to kick off the event. Spectators can witness breathtaking fireworks displays, live music performances, and a grand procession of beautifully adorned snow floats.

One of the most anticipated highlights of the festival is the grand display of snow and ice sculptures. Odori Park, a sprawling park that stretches over 1.5 kilometers in the heart of Sapporo, serves as the main venue for these magnificent creations. Sculptors from around the world converge here, transforming blocks of snow and ice into intricate masterpieces that leave visitors in awe.

In addition to Odori Park, the festival also features other venues where visitors can marvel at more stunning ice and snow sculptures. The Susukino Site, located in the city’s bustling entertainment district, offers a more vibrant and lively atmosphere with its illuminated sculptures and ice bars.

If you’re interested in more interactive experiences, head to the Tsudome Site, where you can enjoy various activities like snow slides, snow rafting, and ice skating. This site also features large snow sculptures that you can climb on and explore.

It’s important to note that each venue has its own operating hours during the festival, so make sure to plan your visit accordingly to fully immerse yourself in the event.

As the festival draws to a close, the city bids farewell to the winter celebration with a memorable closing ceremony. This captivating event usually features live performances, captivating light displays, and a grand finale fireworks extravaganza.

Whether you choose to visit for a day or immerse yourself in the full week of festivities, the Sapporo Snow Festival guarantees an unforgettable winter experience. It’s a magical celebration that brings together art, culture, and the joy of winter, leaving visitors with memories that will last a lifetime.


Location and Venues

The Sapporo Snow Festival takes place in the beautiful city of Sapporo, located on the northern island of Hokkaido in Japan. Sapporo is known for its charming blend of modern cityscapes and natural beauty, making it the perfect setting for this winter extravaganza.

The main venue of the Sapporo Snow Festival is Odori Park, a spacious park that stretches over 1.5 kilometers through the heart of the city. This iconic park serves as the centerpiece of the festival, hosting a multitude of snow sculptures that never fail to captivate visitors. As you stroll along the park, you’ll be immersed in a world of intricate designs and larger-than-life creations, each more awe-inspiring than the last.

In addition to Odori Park, the festival extends to other venues, offering visitors even more opportunities to marvel at the beauty of ice and snow. The Susukino Site, located in the bustling entertainment district of Sapporo, features illuminated ice sculptures and a vibrant atmosphere. Here, you can explore the magical ice bars, sip on a warm drink, and enjoy the lively atmosphere as you admire the dazzling display of creations.

For those seeking a more hands-on experience, the Tsudome Site is the place to be. This site offers a range of interactive activities that cater to visitors of all ages. From snow slides and snow rafting to ice skating and snowboarding, there’s no shortage of fun and excitement at this venue. The Tsudome Site also features impressive snow sculptures that you can climb on and photograph, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

While most of the festival’s attractions are concentrated in these main venues, you’ll also find scattered sculptures throughout the city, adding a touch of whimsy to your exploration of Sapporo during the festival.

The festival sites are easily accessible by public transportation, with numerous bus and subway routes connecting them to various parts of the city. Sapporo’s efficient transportation system ensures that visitors can navigate between venues smoothly and conveniently.

Exploring the Sapporo Snow Festival venues is like stepping into a winter wonderland filled with enchanting sculptures and a festive atmosphere. So bundle up, grab a hot drink, and prepare to be dazzled as you embark on this unforgettable journey through Sapporo’s snow-covered streets.


Main Attractions and Activities

The Sapporo Snow Festival offers a wide range of attractions and activities that cater to visitors of all interests and ages. From admiring stunning ice sculptures to participating in exciting winter sports, there is something for everyone to enjoy during this winter extravaganza.

The highlight of the festival is undoubtedly the mesmerizing ice and snow sculptures. Throughout the various festival venues, you’ll find an array of meticulously crafted sculptures depicting famous landmarks, iconic characters, and stunning works of art. These sculptures are often illuminated at night, creating a magical and unforgettable sight.

For those seeking interactive experiences, the Tsudome site offers a range of exciting activities. You can zip down snow slides, try your hand at snowboarding, or go snow rafting for an exhilarating adventure. If you prefer a more leisurely activity, lace up your ice skates and glide across the ice at the dedicated ice skating rinks.

Food enthusiasts will be delighted by the delectable treats available at the festival. From traditional Japanese snacks like takoyaki and yakisoba to international delights, there is a diverse range of food stalls offering a wide array of culinary delights. Warm up with a steaming bowl of hot ramen or savor some freshly grilled seafood. Don’t forget to try the iconic Sapporo beer, the perfect companion to your winter feast.

One must-see attraction is the famous snow sculpture contest held at the Odori Park venue. Teams of talented artists from around the world compete, showcasing their skills by crafting massive snow sculptures with intricate details. The artwork created during the competition is nothing short of astounding, leaving visitors in awe of the talent and creativity on display.

Music lovers will appreciate the live performances that take place at the festival. From local bands playing traditional Japanese instruments to energetic pop and rock acts, the festival offers a diverse lineup of musical entertainment that adds to the vibrant atmosphere.

In addition to these attractions, there are various other activities to enjoy at the festival, such as snowboarding lessons, snowman building contests, and even snowball fights. Families with children can also enjoy kid-friendly areas with snow slides, snow playgrounds, and fun-filled activities designed to keep the little ones entertained.

Exploring the festival grounds with a warm cup of hot chocolate in hand while taking in the sights and sounds of this winter wonderland is an experience like no other. With so many attractions and activities to choose from, the Sapporo Snow Festival promises an unforgettable adventure for everyone who attends.


Sculpture Contest

One of the most highly anticipated events at the Sapporo Snow Festival is the annual snow sculpture contest. Held at the Odori Park venue, this contest showcases the incredible talents of teams of artists from around the world, who compete to create breathtaking sculptures out of snow.

The sculpture contest is a highlight for both participants and spectators alike. It is a true testament to the artistry and skill required to transform blocks of snow into intricate and awe-inspiring masterpieces. The level of detail and creativity exhibited by the competing teams is truly astounding.

The contest attracts artists from various countries, each bringing their unique cultural influences and artistic styles to the competition. Teams work tirelessly for days, using a combination of hand tools and machinery to shape and carve the snow into their vision. Visitors can witness the sculpting process, gaining insight into the intricate techniques employed by the artists.

Every year, the sculptures created for the contest vary in theme and scale. Some teams choose to depict famous landmarks, while others opt for whimsical characters or abstract designs, pushing the boundaries of imagination and creativity. The sculptures can reach towering heights and feature intricate details that are nothing short of extraordinary.

The sculptures created during the contest are not just static objects. They come to life in the evening with the magical illumination that bathes Odori Park. The lights highlighting the fine details of the sculptures create a mesmerizing spectacle for visitors to enjoy. As darkness falls, the sculptures take on a new dimension, radiating an ethereal beauty that is truly captivating.

Visitors to the festival have the opportunity to vote for their favorite sculptures in various categories, such as Most Impressive, Most Creative, or Best Use of Lighting. This interactive element adds an exciting component to the contest, allowing the public to participate and show appreciation for the artists’ efforts.

The sculpture contest not only showcases incredible talent but also fosters a sense of camaraderie and exchange among the participating artists. The event serves as a platform for artists from different backgrounds to come together, share ideas, and inspire one another. It celebrates the art of snow sculpting as a form of cultural expression and highlights the universal language of art that transcends borders.

Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a lover of winter scenery, or simply someone wanting to witness incredible feats of creativity, the sculpture contest at the Sapporo Snow Festival is an experience not to be missed. It is a testament to the power of human imagination and craftsmanship, and a reminder of the beauty that can be found in even the simplest of materials.


Food and Refreshments

The Sapporo Snow Festival not only captivates visitors with its stunning sculptures and lively atmosphere but also tantalizes the taste buds with a delectable array of food and refreshments. From classic Japanese street food to international delights, there’s something to satisfy every craving at this winter festival.

As you explore the festival grounds, you’ll come across numerous food stalls offering a wide variety of culinary delights. One staple that you must try is the famous Sapporo ramen. Warm up with a piping hot bowl of this savory noodle dish, featuring flavorful broth, tender slices of pork, and a medley of toppings. The rich and hearty flavors of Sapporo ramen are the perfect remedy for the chilly winter weather.

For those craving something sweet, there are plenty of options to choose from. Indulge in some freshly made Takoyaki, a popular Japanese street food consisting of savory octopus-filled balls topped with tangy sauce and bonito flakes. Or satisfy your sweet tooth with a fluffy and melt-in-your-mouth serving of taiyaki, a fish-shaped cake filled with various flavors like custard, red bean paste, or chocolate.

If you’re looking for a taste of international cuisine, the festival has you covered. Experience the flavors of other cultures through an assortment of food stalls offering dishes from around the world. From mouth-watering Korean BBQ to hearty German sausages and even Italian pasta, there’s an international culinary adventure awaiting you at the Snow Festival.

No winter festival is complete without warming beverages to combat the cold. Warm your hands and your heart with a cup of hot sake or mulled wine. Alternatively, if you’re in the mood for non-alcoholic options, you can sip on a steaming cup of hot chocolate or enjoy a soothing cup of matcha tea.

Want a unique dining experience? Consider visiting one of the ice bars scattered throughout the festival venues. Step into an otherworldly setting, where everything from the walls to the furniture is made of ice. Enjoy a drink in an ice glass, marvel at the shimmering ice sculptures surrounding you, and revel in the one-of-a-kind ambiance.

Don’t forget to try the renowned Sapporo beer, a local favorite. Sapporo is famous for its breweries, and what better way to immerse yourself in the festival spirit than to enjoy a refreshing pint of their iconic brew.

With such a diverse and delicious selection of food and beverages, the Sapporo Snow Festival is not just an artistic feast for the eyes, but also a culinary delight for the taste buds. So be sure to come hungry and explore the culinary wonders waiting to be discovered amidst the winter wonderland of Sapporo.


Accommodations and Travel Tips

When planning your visit to the Sapporo Snow Festival, it’s important to consider accommodations and travel arrangements to ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips and recommendations to help you make the most of your trip:

1. Book accommodations in advance: As the Sapporo Snow Festival attracts a large number of visitors, it’s crucial to book accommodations well in advance. Sapporo offers a wide range of options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly guesthouses. Consider staying near the festival venues for easier access to the festivities.

2. Dress appropriately for the weather: The Snow Festival takes place in the midst of winter, so be sure to dress warmly. Layering clothing is key, as temperatures can range from chilly to freezing. Don’t forget to wear sturdy, waterproof boots and don’t underestimate the importance of thermal wear, gloves, and a hat to keep yourself warm and comfortable throughout the day.

3. Take advantage of public transportation: Sapporo has a well-developed transportation system, making it easy to navigate the city and reach the festival sites. Utilize buses and subways to travel between venues, and consider purchasing a transportation pass for convenience and cost savings.

4. Arrive early to avoid crowds: The Sapporo Snow Festival attracts a significant number of visitors, especially on weekends and during peak hours. To fully enjoy the sculptures and participate in activities with less congestion, aim to arrive at the venues early in the day.

5. Plan your itinerary in advance: With so much to see and do at the festival, planning your itinerary in advance can help optimize your time. Research the festival schedule and map out the attractions and activities you don’t want to miss. However, be sure to leave room for spontaneity and exploration.

6. Embrace the festival atmosphere: The Sapporo Snow Festival is more than just viewing sculptures; it’s a celebration of winter. Immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere by participating in activities, trying local delicacies, and enjoying live performances. Engaging with the festival spirit will enhance your overall experience.

7. Explore beyond the festival: While the Snow Festival is undoubtedly the main highlight, take the opportunity to explore other attractions and experiences in Sapporo and Hokkaido. Visit historic landmarks, soak in natural hot springs, or try skiing or snowboarding on the nearby slopes. Sapporo has much to offer beyond the festival grounds.

8. Respect the sculptures and the environment: The sculptures at the festival are delicate works of art, so it’s essential to respect the creations and the environment. Admire the sculptures from a designated distance, refrain from climbing or touching them unless explicitly allowed, and dispose of trash in designated bins to keep the venues clean.

By considering these accommodations and travel tips, you can fully enjoy the magic of the Sapporo Snow Festival while ensuring a comfortable and memorable experience. From planning your stay to embracing the festivities, get ready to create unforgettable memories amidst the winter wonderland of Sapporo.


Other Winter Festivals in Japan

While the Sapporo Snow Festival is the most renowned winter festival in Japan, there are several other spectacular winter events throughout the country that are worth exploring. Each festival offers its unique charm, showcasing regional traditions, artistic performances, and dazzling displays of winter beauty. Here are a few notable winter festivals in Japan:

1. Shirakawa-go Winter Light-Up: Located in the picturesque village of Shirakawa-go in Gifu Prefecture, this festival transforms the traditional thatched-roof houses into a magical winter wonderland. Thousands of LED lights illuminate the village, casting a mesmerizing glow on the snow-covered landscape. Visitors can stroll through the village, feeling transported into a fairy-tale setting.

2. Otaru Snow Light Path Festival: Held in the enchanting town of Otaru in Hokkaido, the Snow Light Path Festival features beautiful snow sculptures and thousands of candles that line the streets, creating a romantic and serene ambiance. Visitors can explore the illuminated paths, indulge in local cuisine, and even release sky lanterns with wishes written on them.

3. Yokote Kamakura Festival: Taking place in Yokote City, Akita Prefecture, this festival showcases hundreds of snow huts called “kamakura” that are illuminated from within. Visitors can step inside the kamakura, enjoy warm beverages, and even participate in traditional activities like mochi-making or playing folk songs with local residents.

4. Sapporo Yuki Matsuri (Sapporo Snow Festival) – Tsudome Site: While the main Sapporo Snow Festival venue is held at Odori Park, the Tsudome Site offers a different experience. Here, visitors can engage in various winter sports, including snow slides, tube sledging, and ice skating. The site also features massive snow sculptures that visitors can climb on and explore.

5. Nagasaki Lantern Festival: Celebrated in Nagasaki, this festival combines the beauty of winter with the vibrancy of lanterns. The city is adorned with thousands of colorful lanterns, creating a magical ambiance. The festival also includes cultural performances, fireworks, and delicious street food.

These are just a few examples of the many winter festivals that take place throughout Japan. Each festival offers its unique blend of artistry, cultural traditions, and winter wonders. Whether you choose to visit Sapporo for its renowned Snow Festival or venture to other regions of Japan, experiencing these winter festivals will surely leave you with unforgettable memories of Japan’s enchanting winter season.



The Sapporo Snow Festival encapsulates the sheer beauty and enchantment of winter in Japan. From the stunning ice sculptures to the festive atmosphere, this annual event draws visitors from around the world to the snowy landscapes of Sapporo. The festival’s rich history, diverse attractions, and engaging activities make it a must-visit event for locals and travelers alike.

As you explore the festival venues, you’ll be mesmerized by the intricacies of the snow and ice sculptures, created by talented artists who push the boundaries of their creativity. The interactive activities, delicious food, and lively performances enhance the overall festival experience, offering a delightful blend of cultural immersion, artistic expression, and winter festivities.

Beyond the Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan boasts a range of other winter festivals, each with its unique charm and cultural significance. From the illuminated villages of Shirakawa-go to the romantic Otaru Snow Light Path Festival, these festivals showcase the country’s diverse regional traditions and artistic celebrations of winter beauty.

When planning your visit to the Sapporo Snow Festival or any other winter festival in Japan, remember to book accommodations in advance, dress warmly, and take advantage of public transportation. Arriving early, planning your itinerary, and embracing the festival atmosphere will help you make the most of your experience.

As you immerse yourself in the magic of these winter festivals, remember to respect the artistry of the sculptures and the environment. Be sure to dispose of trash properly and adhere to the guidelines provided to ensure the preservation of these ephemeral creations.

Whether you choose to witness the grandeur of the Sapporo Snow Festival, explore the picturesque landscapes of Shirakawa-go, or immerse yourself in the romantic ambiance of Otaru, these winter festivals offer a captivating glimpse into Japan’s rich cultural heritage and the breathtaking beauty of the winter season.

So bundle up, embrace the festive spirit, and embark on a journey through Japan’s winter wonderlands. Discover the art, culture, and joy that these festivals bring, leaving you with cherished memories of the enchanting beauty of winter in Japan.

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