It was a wonderful experience at Sapporo Snow Festival! We are glad that we were able to experience it this year while having a break from snowboarding in Niseko. And I can’t believe the amount of snow they have used to create staggering high snow sculptures and sculptures of ice!
The Sapporo Snow Festival (from February 5-12, 2018) is the largest winter festival in Japan and has been attracting visitors locally and internationally. In fact, it’s always expected to have 2 million visitors every winter and beholds numerous gallant snow and ice sculptures that line Odori Park, grounds of Community Dome in Tsudome and along the main street in Susukino.
THREE SITES OF SNOW AND ICE SCULPTURES (plus schedules)
The festival has three different sites for 3 different themes. Entrance is free but you have to pay to enjoy some activities. Both Odori and Susukino Site can be visited at any time. We were given 5 hours to roam around and visit different sites, but the allocated time wasn’t enough, especially walking in the crowd and the difficulty of walking on snow/ice.
Location: Nishi 1 chome to Nishi 12 chome
Illumination starts at sunset to 22:00 (February 5-12, 2018)
Our drop off point was near to Sapporo TV Tower which made the Odori Park our first site to visit. Odori Park is located at the heart of Sapporo and spreads for 1.5 kilometers. It is also the main venue in Sapporo Snow Festival that runs from February 5-12, 2018. It was pretty exciting seeing multiple food stalls (Yatai), families enjoying in ice skating rink, a stellar live bands performance and snowboard air ramp competition. There was so much to do here!
Location: Ekimae-dori from Minami 4-Jo to Minami 7-Jo, Chou-ku
Illumination turned off at 22:00
This is the Ice Sculptures site located at Ekimae-Dori, a main street of Susukino. There are 60 crystal-like ice sculptures and they hold an international ice sculpture competition. The weather was unpredictable since we have arrived in Sapporo and we weren’t able to enjoy this site because of the heavy snow.
Location: Minami 4 jo ～ Minami 7 jo
Open: 9:00 – 17:00 (February 1-12, 2018)
This is the second largest site of the Sapporo Snow Festival that runs from February 1-12, 2018. Both kids and those young at heart will enjoy the large snow slides and snow rafting area. There are plenty of attractions and have a large area for refreshment and relaxation.
HOW TO GEAR UP AND ENJOY THE EVENT
- Dress for the cold
If you are not used or first time experiencing freezing temperatures, then it is important to dress in layers for this event. It is necessary to have a thick warm jacket, beanie/hat, gloves, winter socks and thermal to wear underneath. You will be spending a lot of time wandering outside, so it’s better to wear more than one layer on your legs. I would suggest wearing waterproof jacket and pants, since being wet can cause chill quickly. And also, check the weather prior going to the event.
- Hand warmers
Hand warmers can come in handy especially if you won’t find any shelter if you plan to continue exploring different sites. You can purchase them at any pharmacy or any dollar store. They are a single item to be activated prior to use which you can put in your pocket or anywhere to bring about cozy warmth for several hours. They are a lifesaver!
- Footwear in the snow
I would suggest using a good quality of waterproof insulated boots with non-skid soles. I had plenty encounter of slipping when walking on ice especially when the snow gets hardened overnight, even with my winter boots. It can get very dangerous walking on ice or snow at times! Also, waterproof boots help to keep your toes and feet from getting a cold.
It can get very overwhelming in Sapporo Snow Festival especially if it’s your first time. We booked our transport from SkiJapan.com from Niseko to Sapporo, which made everything easy for us. If you have done your tour at daytime, don’t forget to allow some time at night for evening light up from 5 pm onwards. For me, the best sight can be seen at night! If you are feeling cold, there’s an underground mall to get warmed up or dine in numerous restaurants in Susukino.
We went on the first day of the festival and it was frustrating navigating through a crowd. There is less crowd on the weekday morning while evenings and weekends are always packed. Make sure to plan your time ahead when visiting!
Have a fabulous time in Sapporo Snow Festival, just like we did! <3