The Sapporo Ice Festival
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk through the snowy grounds of a traditional Japanese temple? Or come face to face with a 50 foot dragon? Have you ever wanted to stand nose to nose with a giant polar bear or get within touching distance of a tiger? From
The Sapporo Snow Festival
The 4th – 11th of February, the Sapporo Snow Festival puts even Narnia to shame. It makes all of this a reality in it’s winter wonderland.
Colossal ice and snow sculptures tower above you. From whimsical cartoon themes to intricately carved goddesses and even replicas of famous landmarks such as the Taj Mahal. If you’re looking for a bucket list experience like no other and want a chance to frolic in the snow this year, then the Sapporo Snow Festival is for you.
About the festival
Spread across three sites, the “Sapporo Yuki Matsuri” (The Sapporo Snow Festival) is one of the most anticipated events in Japan with some two million people visiting the sites each year to see the pieces and join in the fun. You can enjoy activities such as snow rafting, and various sizes of snow slides. There is usually a snowboarding section with jumps. There also additional activities such as mini golf, bumper balls (a transparent plastic ball that you can run around in), and a sled slope.
The materials for the event are brought from the mountains every year. Dedicated teams spend several weeks moving tonnes of compacted ice and snow. Then they sculpt and carve the glistening masterpieces into what you see as the final product.
The general theme of the festival changes every year. Past years themes focused on anything from certain celebrities and tv shows to famous buildings. The British Museum, The Imperial Palace and Angkor Wat have all be featured in the past, and landmarks such as the Sphinx of Egypt.
To give you an idea of what to expect for the upcoming event, last year’s theme reflected popular fantasy and science-fiction releases, such as the Final Fantasy game series and a nod to the Star Wars movies (to commemorate the franchise’s 40th anniversary).
Sculptures of characters and depictions of the most famous scenes were met with the latest technology. This is to provide a new thoroughly immersive experience for the spectators including a state of the art surround sound system.
Other Events Happening
Stages are constructed from compacted snow to host live music events. Variety of bands will play sets throughout the day and evening. The lineup is usually a fantastic mixture of both local artists as well as guest acts. The lineup can vary from anything from the US navy to Hawaiian airlines!
The festival also hosts an immensely popular event in its own right. The beauty pageant known as “Susukino Ice Queen”, with hundreds of local women vying for the title.
The Snow Sculpture Competition
Amongst other activities at the festival, there is also the chance for a little friendly competition with the International Snow Sculpture Contest. For those who wish to try their hand at sculpting, the competition which has been gaining momentum since it began in 1974, is open to sign up to. A team for the competition usually consists of two members plus a team leader to represent their country. In recent years there have been as many as 15 participating teams.
The Sculptures at Night
A highlight of the festival that is not to be missed is the sculpture illuminations, which happen every night at 10 pm. The ice and snow sculptures will be be lit up by various light displays in all manner of colours. It makes for an incredibly beautiful experience in the evening. Most years have also featured a light tunnel in the centre which visitors can walk through, crafted from thousands of fairy lights. This is a truly mesmerising experience.
Sapporo Snow Festival
From a small student gathering to an internationally enjoyed event, the Sapporo Snow Festival has a diverse amount on offer for everyone of all ages to enjoy. Whether you’re a solo traveller, a couple on a romantic break, a group of friends on a trip or on a family holiday – there’s something for everyone here. From light shows and snow sculptures to ice skating and sledge rides, there are heaps of fun activities, as well as live music and an array of delicious culinary delights to indulge in. Hokkaido itself is a great holiday destination with much to offer. It well worth putting on your bucket list of festivals and events to attend!