An ice sculpture at Sapporo Snow Festival in northern Japan
11 March, 20213 minute read

Discover the spectacular Sapporo Snow Festival

For 71 years now, locals and tourists flock to Odori Park as it transforms from a relaxing, lush green landscape to an outstanding snow museum hosting an array of spectacular snow and ice sculptures. Each one is carved into a unique design and made to huge proportions - some reach more than 15 metres high and 25 metres wide. More than 100 sparkling sculptures dominate the park, spanning over an area of 1.5 kilometres, many of which are brought to life by colourful lights - you will feel as if you have stepped into an enchanted land, glistening with enticing treasures.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the Sapporo Snow Festival has been cancelled this month, however, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the stunning ice sculptures and the wonderful atmosphere. Sapporo is moving online so people from all around the world can enjoy it. From browsing some of the best highlights in the Grand History Exhibition to taking a 360-degree tour of Odori Park, you can see the festivities from the past few years. You can even enjoy mesmerising photos uploaded by people who have visited - and even upload your own to share, too. The online event can be viewed in several languages including English, Japanese and Chinese. All you have to do it make sure you select your chosen language from the dropdown menu in the top right hand corner of the webpage. 

What is the Sapporo Snow Festival?

As 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.

You can easily roam through the crisp snow-filled festival for hours, admiring these glistening works of art and sampling tasty local food and drink served at many of the traditional food stands. 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.

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.

The festival also takes place in two other locations, the first being Tsudome, a large sports dome located only a short distance from Odori 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.

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!

Our Japanese Winter Wonderland tour visits the Sapporo Snow Festival, an excursion to the 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 - is also included, and witnessing the beautiful snow monkeys bathing in delightfully warm hot springs is an undoubted highlight also experience on this trip.

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!

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