Stroll through an unbelievably beautiful winter streetscape as thick snow blankets Sapporo’s mountains and city over the Sapporo Snow Festival. Held from the 4th to the 11th of February, 2023, it’s the first time the festival will be back in-person since the pandemic. And, it’s set to be a big one, the extravaganza to bring millions of people to the town.
If you’re looking for an epic snowball fight or are more of an adrenaline junkie with your eye on the snowmobile rides, this winter festival has it all. Trees will be covered top to bottom in glistening lights, and around 400 ice sculptures and snow statues will line the walking trails, five of which will be so sizeable you’ll be craning your neck to see to the top.
The walking trail will start at Susukino Station and end near Nakajima Park. Along it you’ll find small bars carved out of ice, easy enough for you to pop in and grab a drink before continuing. Feeling creative? You can add to the display by making your own ice sculpture for the ice sculpture contest.
Once you’re done, shelter from the chill at one of the scrumptious food vendors, hot drink in hand. They’re dishing up some of the most famous dishes from around Japan, as well as hot chocolate and mulled wine.
As night falls, hang around for the light show projected onto some building-size sculptures.
Then, peruse the endless rows of souvenirs and postcards to find a keepsake to remember this truly spectacular winter wonderland.
How to get to the Sapporo Snow Festival:
The festival centre is at Odori Park. Getting to the Sapporo Snow Festival is as easy as catching a train, taxi, or the underground.
What else to do in Sapporo:
During the winter months in the Hokkaido region of Japan, there’s plenty to be done.
Sapporo is the region’s capital, considered one of the coolest winter destinations in Japan.
With an abundance of powdery snow, the Sapporo Teine (Mt Teine) beckons skiers and snowboarders of any level. Beginners frequent this slope as the runs are generally quite mild. Advanced skiers can have some fun heading off-piste into the seemingly bottomless pow.
For seasonal skiers, the little Sapporo Moiwayama Ski Area is a good challenge. Its top elevation reaches 530m, and it has some of the most impressive views of Sapporo.
A little quirkier is the wintertime favourite of wakasagi (smelt) fishing. Peering through a small hole in the ice over a frozen body of water, you’ll learn all the ice fishing essentials from digging the hole, hooking the line, and, of course, catching the fish.
Ready to thaw out? Hokkaido is the holy land of hot springs. Slip into a naturally heated outdoor onsen for the ultimate restoration. Each onsen has a different style, some private and some public, so take your pick!
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Lead image: Supplied