Where to find Japan's annual snowball fight festival!

Japan is known for having some fantastic festivals, held year round - there are festivals to celebrate the cherry blossoms blooming, summer fireworks festivals, autumn koyo festivals to embrace the beautiful changing leaves - and then there are all the fun winter festivals. Snow festivals are found in many places at this time of year, but a snowball fight festival? Yup - that exists here, too!
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The International Snowball Fight is held annually in Niigata Prefecture, and this year was the 30th anniversary of the inaugural event. If you want to participate, teams need to be signed up for prior to the event itself -- and there needs to be five people per team.
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The atmosphere at the festival itself is a lot of fun - there are plenty of food stalls selling all manner of delicious goodies to try! There was everything from yakitori to dango, and even beers and local sake to enjoy if you didn't have to drive. Niigata is renowned for producing some of Japan's best sake, so if you're in the area you definitely need to try some! There were also many unique takes on the humble snowman scattered around, and plenty of powdery stuff to make one yourself if you want to.
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One of the most amusing things about the festival has to be that many of the participants dress up in quirky costumes. You have to admire many of the competitors dedication - even though it's the middle of winter and there is plenty of snow on the ground, many teams had costumes on that did little to shield them from the harsh weather conditions. There is a prize for the team with the best costume, so some people really did go all out.
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These girls were the winners of the costume competition. Since it was the 30th anniversary of the festival, they went as human flower bouquets - a nice little congratulations for the festival having run for so long, perhaps! I think they deserved the win, given how cold it was - and I'm hoping they did have jackets stashed away somewhere.
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Enjoy Japan, and Safe Travels!

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