Magical winter festival surrounding huge multi-storey snow sculptures.
The Sapporo Yuki Matsuri or snow festival is one of the best reasons to visit Japan in winter. People flock in their tens of thousands from all over the world to see massive ice and snow sculptures that fill the squares of Odori Park in the center of the city. Teams from across Japan spend weeks carving sculptures from the snow brought in from the mountains surrounding the city, carefully depicting prehistoric white animals, Disney characters, and famous landmarks such as the Egyptian pyramids, Angkor temples, and Matsumoto Castle.
At dusk, the sculptures are illuminated with a variety of colored lights. Hot sake and mulled wine warm up the visiting crowds or why not try a White Russian cocktail shaken by Sapporo students at one of the ice bars? All the usual Japanese festival food is available, including yakitori chicken skewers, okonomiyaki pancakes, and takoyaki octopus balls, but since this city is famous for its seafood, don’t miss out on the winter specialty: hot-pot nabe crab.
Buses take visitors to the second festival site, away from the city center. Fun for kids and young-at-heart adults, here you can explore a snow maze, take a sleigh ride, build a snowman, take part in an organized snowball fight, or carve a mug from a block of ice. A fantastic festival with so much to see and do, day and night.
When to go:
The Snow Festival takes place in early February each year. Accommodation during this time is very expensive, so if you want to attend, you will need to book in advance. Our winter small group tour also includes 3 days in Sapporo for the snow festival.