Festivals & Events
Using one of Sapporo’s most abundant natural resources and their imaginations, a few students fashioned several snow sculptures in Odori Park way back in 1950. Fast-forward to today, and the Sapporo Snow Festival is a wintertime extravaganza that draws millions every year. Visit for a taste of Hokkaido hospitality, great food and drink, and stunning illuminations.
You can reach Odori Park, the primary venue, on foot or by taxi or subway easily from most places within the city.
Odori Park is a 15-minute underground walk south from Sapporo Station or two minutes by subway. Catch either the Nanboku or Toho subway lines and go one stop to Odori Park Station.
The International Snow Sculpture Contest began in 1974
There are about 400 snow and ice statues at the festival
Soldiers from Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Forces help with the larger sculptures
The festival itself runs for a week in early February, but teams from Japan and abroad begin sculpting their creations up to a month beforehand, and the process is almost as magical as the result. Remember to bring some nonslip winter shoes or boots, or buy some strap-on spikes from a convenience store.
They think big in Sapporo: expect four or five sculptures to be the size of buildings and a host of smaller ones on the west side of Odori Park. Towards the far west end of the park, international snow-sculpting teams from about 20 different nations compete in the festival each year.
Be sure to stay around into the night to take in some of the amazing light shows projected right onto the building-sized sculptures. The shows start as soon as it gets dark and run for roughly 5 to 10 minutes each. Large trees are also decorated, and there are sculptures lit up throughout the park.
Take some runs down the big snow slides, ride a snow raft or have an epic snowball fight at Tsudome. Later on, have a warm beverage or two at the Susukino venue’s ice bar, and enter the ice sculpture contest there if you’re feeling creative. A camera is a must for this festival, but you can also get a professional photo taken for a fee.
You can see lots of beautiful ice sculptures lit up all the way along the middle of the street starting at Susukino Station, and ending up near Nakajima Park. There are also small bars, some made out of ice, for a quick drink as you walk along looking at the sculptures.
You can sample local produce, seafood and meats from all around Hokkaido at the festival as well as famous dishes from restaurants. Try the hot mulled wine, and if you get chilled sit in the tents or rooms available near the food stalls to warm up. There are plenty of souvenirs, toys, t-shirts, knick-knacks and postcards at the festival as well.