All About the Sapporo Snow Festival


The Sapporo Snow Festival was originally started as a way to help residents get through the long, gloomy days of winter. Nowadays it's one of the largest of its kind in the world, seeing in excess of 1 million visitors annually, and one of two major annual festivals in Hokkaido.
Along the massive, centrally located Odori Park, the self-defense force builds multi-story snow-castles, based on designs provided by community groups and more recently corporate sponsors. There are ice slides for the little ones, ski and snow board acrobatic competitions, and an ice rink under the landmark TV Tower.
There is a central outdoor food court, with a myriad of local Hokkaido specialties, as well as a full complement of international cuisines. You can stake out a table in the wooded outdoor seating area, or just grab and go. There are warming spots to duck in for a quick break.

After you pass the larger monument sized sculptures, you'll find your way to the smaller and very entertaining smaller entries in the snow sculpture competition with entries from company teams, school and community groups and even local towns from elsewhere in Hokkaido and all around Japan. Then, there's even more at the far end of the festival with the entries in the international competition.
After so much snow, you'll still need to make time for a short walk or subway trip (1 station) to Susukino and the ice festival. This used to be just a side event, but is now a full-scale competition in the famous, densely packed entertainment district just to the south of the main snow festival.

If you want to go, just plan ahead, as bargain airfares are scarce closer to the event dates. There are plenty of English guide materials and staff available. Sapporo is a very cosmopolitain city, with a vibrant international community.
More information on the snow festival can be found here
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