Region
Hokkaido
Island
Hokkaido
Largest City
Sapporo
Population
5,682,950

Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival

It's time for an... Ice wedding at this annual winter wonderland in the heart of a national park.

  • Dates: Jan. 25 to Feb. 17, 2019; Time: 9 a.m.-10 p.m. (Illuminations will be lit from 4:30 p.m.)
The annual Chitose Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival sees the banks of Lake Shikotsu transformed into a magical frozen kingdom. With colorfully illuminated ice castles and a whole host of wintry activities, it’s a fantastic way to make the most of the season’s cold weather!

Lake Shikotsu is part of the Shikotsu-Toya National Park, in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido. It’s a caldera lake – meaning it was formed in a volcanic crater – and is surrounded by three volcanic mountains: Mount Eniwa, Mount Fuppushi and Mount Tarumae.

During the ice festival, [the] crystal-clear water is put to a very different use: creating a huge range of stunning ice sculptures.

With a maximum depth of 363 meters, Shikotsu is the second-deepest lake in Japan. Its other claim to fame is that it has some of the clearest and purest water in the country. This makes glass-bottomed boat rides a popular activity here.

During the ice festival, however, that crystal-clear water is put to a very different use: creating a huge range of stunning ice sculptures. During the day, these glisten naturally blue in the sunlight, while at night they are illuminated in a host of bright colors to form a magical fairytale kingdom. As you wander around – and even inside – these surreal frozen constructions, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to another world!

Feeling Icy at Lake Shikotsu.

Photo by: Robert Thomson Like Beyonce, the ice at Lake Shikotsu is in formation.

The ice sculptures may be the festival’s main attraction, but there are plenty of other activities to enjoy during your visit. These include an ice rink and ice slide, plus horse riding and even “ice weddings,” where you can pledge your eternal love for your significant other! As with any good festival, you can also find plenty of local food and drink stalls. Of course, there is an emphasis on hot Japanese foods like Oden (a classic Japanese soup), and hot soba or udon noodles.

On weekends and holidays, there are special additional events, including powerful taiko drumming performances and spectacular fireworks displays on weekends and holidays. The area is also well known for its onsen (hot springs), providing visitors with the perfect way to warm up after an evening of ice appreciation — or perhaps a honeymoon?

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Things To Know

Event details

The event takes place on and around the Hokkaido Chitose City Shikotsu Onsen grounds. Typically the festival runs from late January to mid-February.; Time: 9 a.m.-10 p.m. (Illuminations will be lit from 4:30 p.m.) Fireworks are on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays during the event period.

Website

http://www.1000sai-chitose.or.jp/icefes.html

How To Get There

Address

Shikotsu-ko Dori, Shikotsukoonsen, Chitose-shi, Hokkaidō 066-0281, Japan

By bus

Chuo Buses run directly between New Chitose Airport and Lake Shikotsu approximately every three hours. The journey takes around an hour and costs ¥1,030.

By car

The festival at Lake Shikotsu is located in Chitose city and is about a 40-minute drive from New Chitose Airport (the main airport for Hokkaido), or around an hour and 10 minutes from Sapporo city.

Where To Stay

Guest House Shikotsu Kamui
  • Shikotsuko Onsen Bangaichi 92 Chitose-Shi, Hokkaido 066-0281
  • 7.4/10
  • 0.3 km
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Lake Shikotsu Tsuruga Resort Spa Mizu no Uta
  • Shikotsuko Onsen Chitose-Shi, Hokkaido 066-0281
  • 9.3/10
  • 0.3 km
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Kyukamura Shikotsuko
  • Shikotsuko Onsen Chitose-Shi, Hokkaido 066-0281
  • 8.6/10
  • 0.4 km
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Shikotsuko Daiichi Hotel Suizantei
  • Shikotsuko Onsen Chitose-Shi, Hokkaido 066-0281
  • 8.9/10
  • 0.4 km
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