Sapporo Snow Festival 2019 – Enjoy an Outstanding Ice Matsuri in Hokkaido



Sapporo is the capital of the northern island of Japan – Hokkaido. I would say that it is also a snow capital of Japan. Each capital should have its own unique and distinctive event. In the case of Sapporo, it is a  Sapporo Snow Festival or Sapporo Ice Matsuri. This popular event is a mixture of Japanese culture and crafts with the appreciation of winter beauty. It is a must-see event if you are in Japan in winter. From this article, you will learn more about this exceptional festival along with the way how you can enjoy it as a local. So, get ready to know more about the biggest Matsuri in Hokkaido!


1. About Sapporo Snow Festival

2. Things To Do and See

3. Three Festival Sites

4. Details and Access to Sapporo Snow Festival

5. How to get to Sapporo

6. How to Access Each Festival Site

  • Odori site
  • Tsudome site
  • Susukino site

7. Other Things To Do In Sapporo

8. How to Make a Snow Sculpture

9. How is the Weather in Sapporo?

10. Closing Remarks


About Sapporo Snow Festival

The Sapporo Snow Festival started when local middle and high school students began exhibiting six snow statues in Odori Park in 1950. Currently, it is one of the most significant events in winter in Sapporo. More than 2 million people visit this festival from Japan and overseas every year.
At Odori Park, various snow and ice figures of multiple sizes are lined up for about 1.5 km from 1st to 12th city blocks. They are lit up from the sunset to 10 pm.  Teams from around the world participate in the International Snow Contest near the 11th city block. Besides, you can see how the artists create their snow and ice sculptures during the festival.

At the Tsudome site, there are indoor and outdoor events. You can experience huge slides and a snow rafting. At the Susukino site, there are ice carving competitions, ice statues light ups and ice bars. Since everything is exciting to watch, let’s go to each site and enjoy each of the winter snow festivals!

Things To Do and See at Sapporo Snow Festival

There is “Day” and “Night” parts at this festival. So, watch the snow festival twice! This is a great way to enjoy the snow festival in Hokkaido. You can see projection mapping of a big snow statue. There are plenty of events in the evening! Glittering light and music blend into the pure white snow image that shines in the darkness. It looks like an entirely different world from the snow festival site you saw at noon.

Besides watching how artists create their works and how different are the sculptures in the day and at night, you shouldn’t forget to warm yourself up. Its winter, and you will be able to find anything that will save you from the cold weather at a Sapporo Snow Festival. As you go around the big Odori site, I recommend you to warm the body with warm drinks and food such as cocoa, hot sake, hot wine, etc. You will find various Yatai (food stalls) at the festival venue. And they are an excellent source of local festival food as well, so don`t miss a chance to grab some freshly grilled sea creature.

Three Festival Sites

One of the biggest attraction of the festival venue is the place where you can experience plenty of winter activities, including large, medium and small slides made of snow and ice. The Odori site and the Susukino site are mainly for “see and enjoy.” However, you can enjoy most of the activities and “feel the snow” at the Tsudome site.
Children who love snow and adults who have never played with snow will have a great time visiting the Tsudome site! This site is one of the most popular among families with children and groups of friends.

At the Susukino site, which also has a name “Susukino Ice World,” you can see over 60 large and medium fantastic ice images on various themes. The theme is different every year, and the Sapporo Snow Festival Executive Committee never stops to surprise guests with their ideas. There is also an “Ice Bar” which provides hot drinks, an “Ice Interaction Corner” which you can touch and get on the ice statue, and “Illumination Road.”
You can see ice statues at any time of the day, but I recommend you to see them at night. They shine fantastically with a light up. The illumination lasts until 23:00, but on the last day, it is until 22:00.

Details and Access to Sapporo Snow Festival

The dates of the Festival may vary year to year, but usually, it is held in early February every year for one week or ten days. In 2019 the festival will take place from January 31st to February 11th at Tsudome site, and from February 4th to February 11th at Oodori and Susukino sites. As with most festivals, anyone can come and see the festival. For more information on festival events and dates, please check the official website of the Sapporo Snow Festival. It is in English


How to get to Sapporo

The best way to come to Sapporo is by a plane from Tokyo. From Sapporo airport, you can reach the city by taking The Rapid Airport Train to JR Sapporo station.

How to Access Each Festival Site

Odori Site (From Sapporo Station)

Get off at Odori Station on Subway Nanboku line, Tozai line, or Toho line.

Address: Odori park; Nishi 1 chome~ Nishi 12 chome.

Tsudome Site (From Sapporo Station)

A 15-minute walk from Sakaemachi Station on Subway Toho line.

Address: 885-1 Sakaecho, Higashi-Ku, Sapporo City, Hokkaido.

Susukino Site (From Sapporo Station)

Get off at Susukino Station on Subway Nanboku line.

There are also shuttle bus services from various locations in Sapporo.

Address: Ekimae-dori (Station Avenue); Minami 4 jo ~ Minami 7 jo.

Other Things to Do in Sapporo

After checking out the festival, there are plenty of things to do and places to go to in Sapporo! Sapporo has the fifth largest population in Japan – almost 2 million people. This city combines two functions: a “functioning as a city” where buildings and houses stand side by side and an “Oasis of Nature” surrounding the city`s suburbs. This “harmony of city and nature” is a distinctive feature and charm point of Sapporo.

Nijo Market

In Sapporo, fresh vegetables and fruits, fresh fish and other delicacies of Hokkaido gather at one place creating a vibrant food culture. Ramen, Genghis Khan, sushi, seafood and soup curry from Sapporo is very famous not only in Japan but around the world as well. Nijo Market is a must visit place if you would like to become a part of Sapporo`s food culture. It is a famous market in central Sapporo where you can taste seafood bowl and sushi along with anything else what Hokkaido produces.

Skiing near Sapporo

Trying winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and snowmobiling in January and February near Sapporo is important for any active person. Besides, you can always go to an onsen (hot spring) after a beautiful day in the mountains.  A couple of recommendations on ski resorts within 1 hour from Sapporo city center:

  • Sapporo Kokusai Skiing Resort
  • Sapporo Teine

Equipment and wear rental services are available along with skiing and snowboarding teachers.

Hot Springs

What I want you to experience is a hot spring when you come to Sapporo. It is an unforgettable feeling when you are in hot water in an open bath surrounded by snow.  And it is so silent, as the snow absorbs the sounds, just absolute nirvana. Day-trip sightseeing and bathing in the suburbs of Sapporo

  • Jozankei Onsen (Hot Springs)
  • Lake Shikotsu Tsuruga Resort Spa “Mizu No Uta”

Both resorts are within 1 hour by car from Sapporo in the deep forests.
Your skin will become moist and soft because of healing water of Hokkaido volcanoes. Let’s heal the daily fatigue by warming the body in hot springs while enjoying the majestic views of Hokkaido.

How to Make a Snow Sculpture

1. Carry snow and make the foundation of the statue.

2. Start loading more snow.

3. Using a crane, fill in each section of the sculpture with the snow. The sections are separated by wooden panels.

4. After this, remove the panel and start cutting the snow to give it a shape.

5. During the cutting process, you will find dirty parts, such as dirt and twigs. To cover those, in Japan we use the clean snow – “Keshou Yuki.”

6. After removing the scaffolding, the whole structure of the snow statue appeared. While correcting the overall balance of the figure, we adjust and finish each part of it.

How is the Weather in Sapporo?

When you travel to another country, you probably worry about the weather in the country. For the people who want to learn about the weather of Sapporo in winter, I would like to give some tips.

This festival is held in February, every year. It is the coldest month of the year in Japan. The average temperature in February in Sapporo is around -2.1℃, and it gets even colder at night. So, you will probably need a coat, sweater, or ski wear if you join snow activities like playing with snow. Also, you might need a scarf, knit hats, ear muffs, and gloves. These things will protect you from cold if you are outside for a long time. If you forget to bring it, don`t worry. You can get these items even in convenience stores.

Closing Remarks

Sapporo Snow Festival is something unforgettable you should never miss if you have a chance to visit. The statues will melt, but good memories will stay with you forever. So, don`t forget to put on some warm cloth, prepare some warm drink in your thermos, and come to Sapporo in February! Then you will explore every corner of this distinctive Matsuri!

You can experience this festival with local friends as well! If you need any guides to take you around the festival and show you even more things to do in Hokkaido, please check below!

Explore Everything in Hokkaido

Hokkaido is the most northern island in Japan and is a great place to visit as it boasts plenty of tourist attractions and outstanding food. If you would you like to see rural Japan, Hokkaido gives you a unique opportunity to visit a land of snowy mountains and admire authentic traditional northern Japan. The following article assembled best festivals and activities to enjoy in Hokkado throughout the year, which will make your trip to Japan even more rewarding!


Don`t Worry If you Miss Sapporo Snow Festival

Sapporo snow festival is an excellent event in Hokkaido, but not everyone can make it in February. Sometimes, travel plans cannot always be flexible with time. If you want to experience the area of the Sapporo Snow Festival in spring instead, why don’t you check out the cherry blossoms? Cherry blossoms are an essential part of Japanese culture. Let’s enjoy real sakura in Japan!

If you want to see the cherry blossoms spots in Hokkaido, please check the links below!



For all snow lovers…

Winter is a great season to enjoy Japan! I hope you enjoyed reading this article and it made you visit this event. There are plenty of festivals and events in Japan in winter, as Japanese people traditionally have a lot of celebrations in this season. Most of the events are held in the evening to enjoy candle lights which bring a cozy and charming atmosphere.
For all snow lovers, the following article suggests you ten best spots to enjoy snow and snow festivals in Japan!

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Hi,I'm Erika from Sapporo, Hokkaido. I love to communicate with foreign guests. Please come to see great nature in Hokkaido!

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