Until next February 11, the Sapporo Snow Festival will be held, where 194 snow and ice sculptures are exhibited. This year is the 70th Sapporo Snow Festival, one of the most popular globally, which will take place in three parts of the city, Odori, Susukino, and Tsudome.
Odori Park is the main stage of this festival and along with it, you will find snow and ice sculptures made by the inhabitants of Sapporo; among them, one dedicated to racehorses stands out.
At dusk and until 10:00 p.m. you can see the illuminated sculptures. In Susukino, impressive ice sculptures are exhibited. Also, there is an ice bar where you can enjoy drinks, even hot.
Of course, at night, the ice sculptures can also be seen illuminated; the show lasts until 11 p.m., except on the last day, which is on until 10 p.m., after the closing ceremony.
Origin of the Sapporo Snow Festival
The Sapporo Snow Festival is relatively new, as it was only since the 1950s when it began to be celebrated. Although winter festivals were already held in Japan before World War II, it wasn’t until some young people went to Odori Park to create ice figures and sculptures that captivated everyone who saw them.
This ingenuity of those young people attracted so many people that by 1955 people were well organized to go to the park to create innovative sculptures. By 1959, this festival had become so popular that the media attended it to be in the front row and be able to tell everything.
In 1972, the Sapporo Snow Festival achieved world fame and since then, many tourists, both local and international, have flocked to the park to be part of this great festival.
Today, the festival manages to have about 400 ice sculptures, all very different, varied and each one more interesting than the other; Since 1974, a competition has been held to reward the best. Hence, each contestant’s effort is so much that it seems that with each festival, more incredible sculptures are being seen.
Most of these sculptures are made in Odori Park, the most emblematic park in Sapporo and others are in Susukino and Tsu – Dome. Some festival participants are foreigners and the festival itself is completely free, which means that you can stroll through the facilities of Odori Park and the other sites where the sculptures are erected to enjoy them.
Where to enjoy Sapporo Snow Festival
The Sapporo Snow Festival turned 70 in 2019 and the following locations are where you can enjoy it every year:
Odor park i
This park passes through the entire downtown of Sapporo and is a spectacular, green place that gains more beauty during the Sapporo Snow Festival week, as it is the historical site of the festival. In Odori, where it all began, this place is the largest and most spectacular ice sculpture. Some are up to 25 meters wide and 15 meters high, so it is quite a spectacle to approach the park, especially at night, when the lights and colored designs invade the sculptures, making them stand out even more.
Also, there are a hundred more small sculptures with very popular shapes and characters, such as those from manga and anime, marine animals, samurais, nature, and whatever you can imagine, because everything is possible with a chisel, good imagination, and lots of ice.
In Odori Park, there are numerous activities, parties, live shows, and concerts; in fact, many of these large sculptures are used for concerts due to their size. Right there, you will find a great ice skating rink for you to enjoy as a family.
Also called Tsu- Dome, it is another spectacular place that has a lot to offer you during the festival. Although it does not stand out for having the impressive sculptures that are usually found in Odori Park, you will find many ice figures that will leave you with your mouth open, as well as areas where you can carve your own.
As if that were not enough, it has food outlets, where you can taste local delicacies and have a drink, including the popular and tasty Sapporo beer. As for outdoor activities, there is a rafting track, snow slides, a covered venue for events and concerts, and many other leisure activities that you can enjoy as a couple or if you travel with children.
Suskino is the entertainment district of Sapporo and in it, numerous carved ice sculptures are placed during the week of the festival, which is illuminated until 11 p.m. This neighborhood is a perfect area to party and eat, as it has many bars, restaurants, and karaoke bars where you can have an intense nightlife in this northern city of Japan.
The ice bars Susukino is something you do not want to miss for anything in the world, so go and take a tour of some of them to taste a local beer. This district is very close to Odori Park, so there are no excuses not to visit it. You can get there by walking a few blocks, or by subway, as it is located just one stop from the park.
How to get to Sapporo?
Although it is common for people to include only Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka as Japan’s must-see cities in their travel itinerary, Sapporo is one of the most tourist cities that you find on the island of Hokkaido, the northernmost island of the Japanese archipelago. Sapporo is a beautiful city, considered a green lung of Japan, as it has not only Odori Park but also several national parks and many areas of spectacular natural landscapes.
We encourage you that if you travel to Japan in February, go to Sapporo to enjoy the Sapporo Snow Festival, and not only limit yourself to going to Kyoto and Osaka, for example, getting to Sapporo from Tokyo is very easy, and you can do it with the JR Pass.
To do this, you must take the JR Tohoku / Hokkaido Shinkansen line and get to Shin – Hakodate – Hokuto station, on a trip that lasts seven hours and 30 minutes. Then, at this station, you must take the Hokuto Limited Express to get to Sapporo. This train is also included in the JR Pass and drops you off at JR Sapporo Station.
Odori Park is very close to Sapporo Station so that you can get to it on foot. As we told you, Susukino is located on the same road as Odori, so you can continue walking to this neighborhood or take a train and stay one step further. As for the Tsu-Dome site, it is in the heart of the city and local trains and buses leave from Sapporo station to that destination every 5 or every 10 minutes.
One of the greatest advantages of traveling to Japan during February is that you can enjoy the Sapporo Snow Festival, and we are sure that you will have an unforgettable experience there; Also, during this month, as it is still winter, you can find greater offers, which will allow you to save a little because during the spring or autumn, the flow of tourists is greater and prices soar through the skies.
Finally, remember to wear clothes that warm you properly, as Sapporo is generally a cool city with a somewhat mild climate. Still, during the winter, it can be as cold as a European winter at its highest level. Comfortable shoes are necessary, as well as a hat, gloves, and a scarf so that you avoid a cold or flu.