Sapporo Snow Festival

The Sapporo Snow Festival, known in Japanese as Sapporo Yuki Matsuri, stands as one of the most iconic winter events in Japan, drawing millions of visitors to the heart of Hokkaido each February. Originating in 1950 when local high school students built six snow statues in Odori Park, the festival has since evolved into an international spectacle, featuring hundreds of snow and ice sculptures that transform Sapporo into a winter wonderland. This article unpacks some of the magic of the Sapporo Snow Festival, offering insights into its attractions and tips for those planning to attend this incredible event.

Highlights of the Sapporo Snow Festival

Snow and Ice Sculptures

  • What: The festival's main attractions are the intricately carved snow and ice sculptures, ranging from small figures to massive structures several meters high, depicting everything from famous landmarks to popular characters and historical figures.
  • Where: The sculptures are primarily displayed in three sites: Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome, each offering its unique set of attractions.

Illuminations and Projection Mapping

  • What: As night falls, many sculptures and venues are illuminated, with some featuring projection mapping shows that bring the icy creations to life with vibrant colors and dynamic imagery.
  • Where: Odori Park and Susukino are the primary locations for these illuminated displays.

Cultural Events and Entertainment

  • What: Beyond the sculptures, the festival offers a wide array of cultural performances, live music, and events showcasing Hokkaido's heritage and Japan's diverse regions.
  • Where: Odori Park's stages and venues host most of the festival's cultural events and entertainment.

Snow Activities

  • What: For families and those looking to engage in winter sports, the festival provides snow slides, snow rafting, and other snow-related activities.
  • Where: Tsudome, the festival's community dome site, is the center for snow activities, making it a hit with children and adults alike.

Planning Your Visit

Best Time to Visit

The Sapporo Snow Festival typically runs for seven days in early February. While the sculptures are on display throughout the festival, visiting in the first few days ensures you see the works in their best condition.


Sapporo becomes incredibly busy during the festival, so booking accommodations well in advance is crucial. Consider staying near one of the main sites (Odori Park, Susukino, or Tsudome) for easy access to the festivities.

Weather and Clothing

February in Sapporo is cold, with temperatures often below freezing. Dress warmly in layers, and wear waterproof winter boots to stay comfortable while exploring the outdoor sites.

The Cultural Significance of the Festival

The Sapporo Snow Festival is more than just a celebration of winter; it's a testament to community spirit, artistic expression, and international friendship. The festival not only showcases the creativity and skills of artists from around the world but also serves as a platform for cultural exchange and tourism, contributing significantly to the local economy and Hokkaido's cultural landscape.


The Sapporo Snow Festival offers a dazzling escape into a world of snow and ice, where artistry and nature converge to create an unparalleled winter experience. Whether marveling at the gigantic snow sculptures, enjoying the festive atmosphere, or participating in snow activities, the festival promises lasting memories and a deeper appreciation for the beauty of winter in Japan. For those seeking to experience one of Japan's most enchanting events, the Sapporo Snow Festival is a must-visit on your winter travel itinerary.