Sapporo snow festival

Sapporo snow festival

When you’re looking for information about Japan a question you most likely have will be: ‘when is the best time to go to Japan?’ Summer, winter, spring, autumn? All seasons have their charm, but during the winter the Sapporo Snow Festival is definitely worth a visit. 

Credit: kawaiikakkoiisugoi

Giant snow and ice sculptures are created every year in February (5 Feb. till 11 Feb. in 2015), the time of the year with the greatest snowfall. In Odori Park (Sapporo), Sukino (Sapporo), Tobetsu and Lake Shikotsu they build magnificent buildings that represent important Japanese and international landmarks, or film- and anime characters like Star Wars and One Piece.


Credit: kimi-tourguide

Ice-skating and the Ski-experience

Besides the snow and ice sculptures there are also ice-skating rinks and a ski- experience, which can basically mean anything as long as it’s in the snow and fun! Tube sliding, snow rafting, snow mazes and ski jumping are just a few things you can do, so it’s also fun for the families that don’t know how to ski.

Credits: Welcome to Sapporo

Sapporo snow festival at night

At night the sculptures are lit up to match the original colours of the buildings that were recreated, so it almost looks like the originals are right in front of you. There are also performances in front of the sculptures, so make sure to check the schedule on the website snowfes (in english).


Credits: Welcome to Sapporo

What to wear

What do you wear when you go to one of the snow festivals? Layers, layers and more layers. In Sapporo City they usually turn the heaters up in department stores and restaurants (even in subway stations!) so you might want to think twice about that thick sweater. The difference between outdoor and indoor temperatures is pretty extreme so you’ll be sweating in no time if you can’t take anything off. Also carry a large bag with you to put everything in.

Book in advance

The hotels and hostels fill up quickly during the festival so make sure you reserve a room in advance if you want something for a reasonable price. Check here for Sapporo hostels.


Credits: Welcome to Sapporo

Ice Hill Hotel in Tobetsu

If you want to give your snow festival tour a little (okay, maybe not so litte) extra, the Royce’ Ice Hotel in Tobetsu near Sapporo is the place to stay. This hotel is completely made of ice and snow and has three hotel buildings and an ice-bar which serves hot drinks. You can visit the hotel for free from 11:00 to 20:00, and from 20:00 it becomes a hotel only for guests. If you want to go for a tour, I recommend the shuttle bus that leaves from Sapporo City. Contact Cross Hotel Sapporo for details on reservations, etc.


Credits: 100sai-chitose

Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival

Don’t want to get squashed between all the tourists and locals visiting the ice sculptures in Sapporo? An interesting day trip about 40 minutes away from Sapporo is the Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival. From January 30 tot February 22 (in 2015) you can see ice sculptures made from the water of Lake Shikotsu in the national park. Besides the sculptures you can also try the ice slide, the ice rink for boots only or ride a horse in the snow. In the evening on Saturdays and Sundays they have fireworks and wadaiko drum performances. And if you’re getting cold from all the ice around you, you can try the hot springs around the venue.

For more information and the latest data for the snow festivals please visit the welcome to sapporo website.

Also read: Nana-chan Nagoya’s mannequin

1 thought on “Sapporo snow festival”

  • Wow that was strange. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say superb blog!

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