Coming to Japan this winter? It’s your chance to see the biggest and most popular winter festival held annually in Hokkaido’s capital Sapporo, the Sapporo Snow Festival or known as さっぽろ雪まつり, Sapporo Yuki Matsuri in Japanese.
Before going, we’re ready to guide you through this ultimate virtual guide for where to stay, how to get there, what to do during this ice sculptures event. Find out everything you need to know about the festival to make your wintertime in Japan even more awesome!
Sapporo Snow Festival Experience in Japan
The yearly festival held in the capital city of Hokkaido Prefecture has attracted more than two million visitors both from domestic and international. Japan is beautiful in winter, so after visiting Tokyo and Osaka, Sapporo is worth on your itinerary.
A Brief History and 2020 Schedule
The Sapporo Snow Festival, which held during one week every February, was started back in 1950. It was when high school students built a few snow statues in Odori Park. Since then, it has been getting bigger and bigger every year.
It showcases stunning snow and ice sculptures, snowball fights, and a festive carnival. The festival is well-loved by the people worldwide for a winter celebration, emerging a spectacular snow experience in Japan.
With every coming day, the snow festival will continue to evolve and move towards new innovative fronts. Since it became one of the largest scale events, the displays now is taking in larger sites.
This year, the 71st Sapporo Snow Festival is scheduled to be held from 31 January to 11 February 2020 which is staged on three sites: the Odori Site, Susukino Site, and Tsu Dome Site. If you’re planning to come, come see its snow art event at the main venue on 4 – 11 February.
The Sites and Opening Hours
There will be three sites during the festival which will be fully-packed with events, gourmets, and each of its own charms, such as souvenirs and gifts.
Odori Site will be accessible for the public from 4 – 11 February 2020. This is the most popular site in the Sapporo Snow Festival, which you can visit at any time. However, if you want t see the winter illuminations, make sure to come at sunset or before 10 pm.
It’s located in the center of Sapporo, so we believe there won’t be any problem finding this site. Expect to see a captivating world of snow and ice, stretching across approximately 1.5 kilometers, as well as various attractions such as snow sculptures, Hokkaido-specialty gourmet options, a skating rink, special projection mapping shows, and many more!
Same with Odori Site, Susukino Site is available from 4 – 11 February 2020 and can be visited at any time. The winter light illuminations will be turned off at 11 pm but on the last day, it will be ended at 10 pm so make sure to arrange your visit accordingly.
This year, the site will carry out Enjoy the Ice theme, offering amazing ice and snow sculpture show and the Ice Sculpture Contest. Don’t forget to visit the plaza ‘Fureai Hiroba’, to ride on the ice sculptures, take photos with the Illumination Street, or sip hot drinks at the Ice Bar.
The last site, which is the newest one is accessible from 31 January until 11 February. You can come between 9 am to 7 pm to have fun on slides, snow rafts, and other attractions both for children and adults.
There’s also an indoor space where you can try various gourmets, relax in the rest areas, and enjoy other attractions. Undergo a true Hokkaido snow experience by playing in the snow here will surely be a total enjoyable!
International Snow Sculpture Contest
To top it all, the festival is even getting more festive with the International Snow Sculpture Contest, where teams from various regions in the world will be participating in the contest. You’ll see people create new friendships, exchange cultures, and make a variety of snow statues with a valuable story behind.
Watch the competition held from 3 – 7 February 2020 in Odori Site. The last day will be the awards ceremony, so for those of you who want to see the sculpture contest winners, make sure to stay until the last day. You can find out more about the previous contests here.
How to Get There
The easiest way is to fly to Sapporo. If you’re coming from other parts of Japan, you can either take a flight or train by JR Tohoku or Hokkaido Shinkansen from anywhere around Japan directly to Sapporo.
You can use the Japan Rail Pass and JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass. Make sure to buy your JR pass in advance so you don’t have to wait in line to get your ticket. Choose either Totally convenient!
Where to Stay in Sapporo
It won’t be a hassle to get your accommodation for a restful night in Hokkaido’s capital city. To make it even easier, book your hotel in Sapporo a week or two before because this snow festival usually attracts many international tourists. You don’t want to pay a fortune just for a small room far away from the city center, right?
Visit Tokyo, Japan’s Coolest City
A trip to Japan isn’t complete without a visit to its capital city, Tokyo. This vibrant city offers you a wide variety of tourist attractions, shopping spots, fun theme parks, and culinary haven. Make sure to read a piece about top things to do in Tokyo.
Level up your Instagram feed and uplift your holiday experience, by going to the Sapporo Snow Festival and stroll around Tokyo. So, still dare to say no to come this February?