Catch The Legendary Sapporo Snow Festival

  • October 31, 2017

Sapporo Snow Festival Sulpture
Sapporo Snow Festival is one of Japan's best festivals. 

Mention Sapporo and two things may spring to mind: the city's namesake beer or the city's famous Snow Festival. The latter is for good reason - it's one of Japan's best festivals, and the world's second-biggest snow festival. Find out what all the buzz is about.

The Sapporo Snow Festival is a bit different from Japan's other major festivals. While most festivals across Japan can be traced back centuries, steeped in folklore and religious influence, the Sapporo Snow Festival materialized as recently as 1950, when a group of high school students inspired crowds with snow statues in the central park. A few years later the army got involved to build the first massive snow sculpture, and the rest is history.

Chocolate bananas Sapporo Snow Festival
Street food and snacks galore at the Snow Festival.

Fast forward to the 67th iteration of the festival, and the Sapporo Snow Festival has rightfully become a major domestic and international tourist attraction for Hokkaido. The festival spans three areas in Sapporo, with the main event taking place in the heart of Sapporo - Odori Park. With live music, a varied selection of excellent food, and an atmosphere warm and inviting enough to make you forget that it's -10°C, the sculptures are simply one of the attractions to be seen.

These days the sculptures are more than lifeless statues. Loudspeakers coupled with projections onto the sculptures bring the colossal structures to life. An example: to celebrate the arrival of Hokkaido's first bullet train, a massive snow shinkansen zoomed under sea and blasted through outer space, impressing locals and tourists alike. The largest structure this year was a massive ski jump, where skiers exhibited massive back-flips and spin tricks to the snack-inundated crowd below.

Park Air Competition at Sapporo Snow Festival
Huge air in the middle of the festival.

The Sapporo Ice Festival makes a strong argument for coming to Niseko in February. Leaving an extra day either before or after Niseko, or taking a break from skiing somewhere in between, will give you an excellent taste of the Japanese urban life coupled with a festival great for both the young and old. Sapporo's Snow Festival usually runs in the first half of February, between the 5th and 11th.

Giant snow sculptures at Sapporo Snow Festival
Gargantuan sculptures terrified small children and wowed everyone else.

Whether planning a much-needed break from skiing or treating the kids to something special, we at Vacation Niseko are here to help. Let us know and Vacation Niseko can arrange transport to/from the festival, a Sapporo day tour, and so much more. Check out our website for details.


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