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An ice sculpture at Sapporo Snow Festival in northern Japan
22 February, 20233 minute read

Why visit the Sapporo Snow Festival?

For more than 70 years now, locals and tourists have flocked to Odori Park on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, to witness as it's transformed from a relaxing, lush green landscape to an outstanding snow museum filled with incredible ice and snow sculptures.

What is the Sapporo Snow Festival?

The Sapporo Snow Festival first began in 1950 when a group of local students decided to create some small sculptures in the Park which was continued a few years later by a number of Japanese Self-Defence Force members constructed a large-scale sculpture, the following years the event continued with the scale, designs and attractions evolving making the event one of Japan’s most famous festivals. The sculptures are now so large that bulldozers and mechanical diggers are involved in the construction process, with the snow being transported from a number of locations in Sapporo.

Snow castle at Sapporo Snow festival, Hokkaido, Japan

Now the biggest event in the city, the festival takes place over seven days as people from across the world arrive at the scene to be inspired by the breathtaking designs of animals, religious representations, Japanese characters, iconic buildings from around the world and much more. It's a real highlight of our winter Japanese travel tours.

How many sculptures are there?

More than 100 sparkling sculptures dominate the park, spanning over an area of 1.5 kilometres. Each spectacular sculpture is carved into a unique design and made to huge proportions - some reach more than 15 metres high and 25 metres wide. Many are brought to life by colourful lights - you will feel as if you have stepped into an enchanted land, glistening with enticing treasures.

Snow Sculptures at the Sapporo Snow and Ice Festival, Japan, Asia

What else is there to do at Sapporo Snow Festival?

You can easily admire the glistening works of art for hours, but there's plenty more to see and do at the Sapporo Snow Festival. Sample tasty local food and drink at traditional food stands - the perfect chance to fill up on delicious Japanese specialities. Concerts and events also entertain from on the stage - and if you are bursting with energy there is a beautifully lit outdoor ice-rink and skiing course to keep you busy.

Sapporo Snow Festival at Odori Park, street food, Japan

As well as Odori Park, the Sapporo Snow Festival takes place in two other locations, the first being Tsudome, a large sports dome located only a short distance from the park. The dome celebrates the festival with fun-packed winter activities including snow rafting, huge snow slides and sledging slopes. Tsudome also showcases snow sculptures crafted to utter perfection and offers delicious food on the multiple tempting stands.

Susukino is the third location to celebrate this impressive event by transforming into the perfect winter’s dream. Usually, Susukino is an entertaining, bustling area but in the spirit of snow sculpting, the district admirably evolves into a beautifully mesmerising icy celebration for a week. The ‘Enjoy the Ice’ themed site exhibits approximately 100 grand ice sculptures, many of which are once again lit up with captivating, bright colours making the experience all the more enthralling for visitors.

How to visit Sapporo Snow Festival

You can visit Sapporo Snow Festival on our Japanese Winter Wonderland tour. As well as spending a whole day at the festival, we'll enjoy an excursion to the nearby Otaru Snow Light Path Festival - Otaru’s city is decorated with small snow statues, pretty lights and glittering lanterns creating a majestic and festive atmosphere. Witnessing the beautiful snow monkeys bathing in delightfully warm hot springs is another highlight you'll experience on this trip.

Light-Up Festival at Otaru Canal in Winter, Japan

Sapporo Snow Festival really is the ultimate wonderland celebrating winter in the best fashion - with jaw-dropping pure white snow sculptures and sparkling crystal clear ice statues - in February, when everyone needs an inspiring holiday to lift their spirits after Christmas, which usually then feels like a century ago!

Find out more about our Japan tours here or speak to one of our expert travel advisors today. 

Image of blog author Cassie Stickland

Cassie loves to experience different cultures and get ‘off the beaten track’. Her favourite travel experience to date was seeing orang-utans and pygmy elephants up close and personal in Malaysian Borneo. Having visited 6 out of the 7 continents worldwide, a trip to Antarctica will be next on the list!

Cassie | About the author

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