Snow Festival

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AdmissionFree entry
Opening Hours1 week in February
All day. Lighting stops at 10pm.
Closed
Contact011-222-4894(Sapporo City Call Center)
Notes-
Location /
Getting There
Sapporo – Odori Park, Susukino, Tsu Dome

Arguably the biggest festival in Sapporo, the Sapporo Snow festival, according to the snow festivals home page, brings in about 2 million tourists every year. There are 3 main sites throughout Sapporo during the festival. Odori site, Susukino site, and the Tsudome site.

HISTORY

1950 – The first Sapporo Snow Festival was held in Odori.  At that time there were only six snow statues made by local high school students. Beyond all expectations, the festival attracted about fifty thousand people. Ever since then the Snow Festival has become a major event on Sapporo’s calendar.

1955 – The Self Defense Force joined in to make a massive snow sculpture.

1959 – Twenty five hundred people participated in building and designing snow sculptures. The national media reported the Snow Festival for the first time.

1965 –  Makomanai site was officially opened as the second site.

1972 – Sapporo hosted the Winter Olympic Games where the Snow Festival was widely acknowledged around the world through the international media.

1974 – The International Snow Sculpture Contest began as a part of the Snow Festival. Since then, teams from various regions around the world have participated. Teams include Shenyang (China), Alberta (Canada), Munich (Germany), Sydney (Australia) and Portland (U.S.A.).

1983 – The third site at Susukino was opened adding a new aspect to the festival. The Susikino site included ice sculptures illuminated by neon street lights.

1984 – The duration of the festival was extended by two days and became seven days.

2005 – Makomanai site was closed after forty years. The site was temporary moved to Satoland.

2009 – Satoland closed and the Tsudome site was set up as the second site.
The Sapporo Snow Festival has developed its international aspect over the years, and has been creatively evolving up to the present.

ODORI SITE

 This main site is located in central Sapporo in Odori Park. The park runs for 1.5 kilometres and features small, medium and giant snow sculptures. The largest snow sculptures measure up to 25 meters wide and 15 meters high. Apart from the dozen or so giant snow sculptures, the Odori Site exhibits more than one hundred smaller snow statues and hosts several concerts and events, many of which use the sculptures as their stage. A good vantage point to see the entire festival is from Sapporo TV Tower at the eastern most point of the park.

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Apart from the ice sculptures there and live bands there are other things to do and see. There is an ice rink directly below the TV Tower. 2 blocks west from the TV Tower there is a large jump which is used for snowboarders who put on an exhibit in the evenings, well worth a look. As the festival in Odori park gets bigger each year, there are more and more stalls, places to eat and huts to grab a hot drink and take a break from the cold temperatures.

 

SUSUKINO SITE

This site is located in the entertainment district and consists of ice sculptures and is just a 10 minute walk south from Odori park. It runs for 7 blocks down ‘Eki Mae Dori’ (the main street down the heart of Sapporo). From about 5 pm the street closes so the public are free to wander around and take a close look at the ice sculptures. With the glow from the neon lights from the bars and restaurants it does make a great place to check out. Although this is the smallest site, it displays about 100 ice sculptures and is the location of the Ice Sculpture Contest. The snow festival attracts two million people to Sapporo every year and, best of all, entry is free.

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One of the many striking ice sculptures

There is an ice bar stationed between the ice sculptures that will serve up drinks in ice glasses if you need some refreshments and if you want to take a load off , ice stools are available. For kids, there is an ice slide and some sculptures that can be sat on for a photo opportunity. Another good photo opp is the ‘Illumination street’ that has an arch of fairy lights for the viewers to walk through.

 

TSUDOME SITE 

This site is aimed at kids and families and is filled with several snow and ice attractions, including a 100-meter long “tube rider” snow slide and a snow rafting area where people of all ages can ride on a raft towed by a snowmobile. There is also an 80-meter long snow zip-line that whisks you above the site at a height of about six meters.  Also a new feature is the snow golf park.  After the days activities, relax at the Snow Festival Ice Café for a drink served in a glass made of ice (only open Saturday, Sunday and the national holiday; admission fee required).

 

NAKAJIMA PARK

Although, technically, not part of the snow festival, Nakajima park has its own attraction. In the evenings the park lights up with hundreds of candlelights placed in the snow. Nakajima park is only a 5 minute walk from Susukino so its easy to take in all these sights. Be warned, the temperatures at this time of year hits freezing so rug up, stay warm and enjoy all of the sights of the Sapporo Snow Festival.

 

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About Matt Holloway

Hokkaido Guide contributor and editor. Keen photographer with a love of travel, the great outdoors and all things Hokkaido, Japan. Matt Holloway is a professional photographer and holds exhibitions around Sapporo, Hokkaido and Sydney Australia.