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

Sapporo Snow Festival

Join the most popular winter festival in Japan in February.

The Sapporo Snow Festival, or Yuki Matsuri, is a must-see if you are in Japan in the winter and is even worth planning your trip around.

Far away from the rather snowless cityscapes of Tokyo or Osaka is Sapporo, the site of the week-long festival in the country’s northern-most prefecture of Hokkaido. Hokkaido sees a lot of snow in winter and Sapporo — a city with a lively vibe — is a perfect venue for the annual event the beginning of February.

Larger than life sculptures.

The Snow Festival has hundreds of snow and ice sculptures ranging from big to down-right enormous.  Sapporo City’s Odori Park is where the main event takes place. Visitors can take a short walk from Sapporo station and be entertained all day and night.

A Guide to the Sapporo Snow Festival 2017

Each year, the fest includes creative snow and ice sculptures often accented with Japanese or world pop culture. In the past, fan favorites have included sculptures dedicated to Star Wars, Final Fantasy, and even numerous anime characters.

Among the intricate artwork made from mother nature are pathways lined with food stalls with everything from meat skewers to fresh seafood to “hot milk” (a Hokkaido special), plus live performances ranging from J-Pop to rock.

Photo by: Victoria Vlisides 2017 Snow Fest: PPAP!

The multi-day festival’s popularity has skyrocketed, especially among foreign tourists and especially on the weekends. However, it comes from humble roots starting in 1950 when a few high school students made snow sculptures, according to the fest’s official site. Despite just six statues, the fest ended up drawing a crowd of 50,000! In 1955, the Self Defense Force joined in to help make the massive ones you still see today.

Before you go

The Snow Festival has three sites, with Odori Park as the main one to see snow sculptures. Odori Park (Nishi 1 chome~ Nishi 12 chome) also has illuminated snow structures so you can see them at night untli 10 p.m. Second is the Tsudome site, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., has tons of snow activities like snow rafting and is great for families.

Photo by: Alfie Blincowe A snow sculpture at the 2018 Sapporo Snow Fest.

Last is Station Avenue (Ekimae-dori), which has illuminated ice sculptures not to be missed. These are usually open for viewing until 11 p.m. and 10 p.m. on the last day of the fest.

Sapporo 2013: Illuminated snow sculpture of The Land of Ice ~ Princess of White Wings.

Accommodation

Most people stay in Sapporo city, but you may need to branch out a little, depending on how early you book it. Reasonably priced accommodation — like hostels and Air BnBs — book up months in advance, so plan early. Some may end up staying in Chitose City, which is closer to New Chitose Airport. However, it’s 30-60 mins away from Sapporo depending on the train you take.

Photo by: Victoria Vlisides 2017 Snow Fest: Final Fantasy!

While you’re in the Sapporo area, it’s worth heading out of the city after you get your fill of the snow festival, which you could easily enjoy for at least two days. You can also sightsee in the charming port town of Otaru, with its lighted canal and amazing onsen, or Jozankei for skiing and even more onsen.

Whatever you do, if you’re in Japan during winter, don’t miss this fantastical fest!

Trivia

A Guide to the Sapporo Snow Festival 2017

Headed to Japan's most popular winter festival this year? Or thinking to book a last-minute trip? Here's a guide for what you need to know before you go.

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Things To Know

Language Support

There are temporary tourist information center at Tsudome, Susukino, and Odori sites at the Sapporo Snow Festival. Supported Languages: English ・Chinese ・Korean ・German ・French ・Italian ・Spanish ・Portuguese ・Thai ・Indonesian ・Japanese.

Fees

Entrance to the snow fest is free!

How To Get There

By train

From New Chitose Airport station take the JR “Rapid Airport” line 37 minutes to Sapporo station.

By bus

From the airport, take the New Chitose Airport Limousine Bus toward Sapporo for about 1 hour from Shinchitose Airport Bus Stop to Odori Koen.

By plane

Fly into New Chitose Airport in Chitose City. Rental cars are also available at the airport. Checkout a tourist info. desk near the JR ticket counter (midori-no-madoguchi) in the basement floor of the airport. Information can be provided in English, Chinese and Korean.

By foot

From Sapporo station, walk about 15 minutes to Odori Park.

Where To Stay

Hotel Resol Trinity Sapporo
  • Chuo-ku Odori Nishi 5-3 Sapporo-Shi, Hokkaido 060-0042
  • 8.3/10
  • 0.2 km
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Tokyo Dome Hotel Sapporo
  • Chuo-ku Odori Nishi 8-chome Sapporo-Shi, Hokkaido 060-0042
  • 8.4/10
  • 0.3 km
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Hotel Okura Sapporo
  • Chuo-ku Minami 1-jo Nishi 5-chome Sapporo-Shi, Hokkaido 060-0061
  • 8.4/10
  • 0.3 km
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Hotel Sapporo Garden Palace
  • Chuo-ku Kita 1-jo Nishi 6-3-1 Sapporo-Shi, Hokkaido 060-0001
  • 8.4/10
  • 0.3 km
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