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Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan

If you're only going to do one thing this winter in Japan, you have to experience the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri or Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido.

Held once a year over a week in February, this festival celebrates the abundance of snow in Japan's north by creating huge, breathtaking snow sculptures.

The festival is held over three sites: Odori, Susukino and Tsu Dome.

The Odori site is the main stage for the festival, located in central Sapporo (Hokkaido's capital) down the 1.5 kilometer long Odori Park. Be blown away by the huge, detailed designs looming over you. At night, the sculptures are lit up in a dramatic light display, making it worthwhile to visit during both the day and evening. When not looking at the artwork, you can watch the snowboarding demos, go ice skating or grab something to keep you warm at the numerous food stalls.

Sapporo Snow Festival, Odori site, Hokkaido, Japan.

Sapporo Snow Festival, Odori site.

Replica of Beijing Square, Sapporo Yuki Matsuri, Odori Site, Hokkaido, Japan.

Replica of Beijing Square, Odori Site.

Sapporo Yuki Matsuri by Night, Hokkaido, Japan.

One of the most majestic displays of the 2011 Festival by night.

While the Odori site focuses on snow displays, at Susukino you'll find an entire street of ice sculptures. The reflection of lights of nearby businesses onto the glistening carvings on show makes for an impressive sight.

Sapporo Yuki Matsuri Susukino Site, Hokkaido, Japan.

Susukino Site.

Sapporo Yuki Matsuri Ice Sculpture, Hokkaido, Japan.

Sapporo Yuki Matsuri Ice Sculpture, Hokkaido, Japan.

Sapporo Yuki Matsuri Ice Sculpture, Hokkaido, Japan.

Over at Tsu Dome, accessible by bus from the Odori site, you'll find a great place for small and big kids alike. Most infamous is the big ice slide, in which you are pushed down the purposefully built hill in a tube. You can also try out a ride where you are pulled behind a snow mobile in a raft.

Of course, if skiing or snowboarding takes your fancy, the slopes are never too far away. Head into Sapporo's main station building to find out about the multitude of travel/gear/equipment/lift passes available.

One of the best trips we have taken in Japan, we can't recommend this festival enough. Being one of the major events on Japan's winter calendar, book your travel and accommodation now to avoid disappointment.

This year marks the 67th year of the festival. It will be held from Friday, 5 February – Thursday, 11 February 2016 (the Tsu Dome site runs until February 18th). For more info, please see the official festival site.

For more things to see and do in Hokkaido this winter see:

Ice Waterfall Festival

Asahiyama Zoo

Hokkaido’s Miso Butter Corn Ramen

Sounkyo Ice Waterfall Festival, Japan
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When’s the best time to visit Japan?

Thursday 3rd of March 2016

[…] in Northern Japan is a popular spot for skiers and snowboarders seeking its perfect powder snow. Japan’s famous ‘Snow Festival’ is also held in Sapporo (Hokkaido) for a week in early February each year. Closer to the capital, […]

JP Rodriguez

Sunday 8th of March 2015

I just received an email from one of the organizers and it is from Feb. 5 to Feb. 11, 2016

JP Rodriguez

Sunday 1st of March 2015

Thanks so much for the info Jess! :) I'll be looking at that official site often, hotel rooms are getting fully booked during that period as early as now... :) Do you suggest any hotel/ryokan in that area that I can look at to book during the winter festival? Thanks again and take are always!

JP Rodriguez

Saturday 28th of February 2015

Do you know when will be the start and end date of the Sapporo's 2016 Winter festival?

Jessica - Notes of Nomads

Sunday 1st of March 2015

I've seen one site stating it will be held between February 5th and 11th 2016 (the same dates as 2015). However, nothing has been released yet on the festival's official website so I cannot confirm it. Hopefully they'll update it soon so you can start making your travel plans. It's usually early February if that helps. :)

Les Petits Pas de Juls

Monday 29th of December 2014

oh whow!!! I missed your post about Japan, I realize after reading the last 2! I'm glad you're back there and showing us what's great about that country of yours! ;-) Hope I can visit some day... Cheers and Happy end of year before the next one and its wonders begin!

Jessica - Notes of Nomads

Wednesday 31st of December 2014

Thanks so much! How we have missed sharing them too. Wishing you an amazing 2015 filled with even more travel adventures than the last! :)

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