Sapporo Snow Festival

One of the most fabulous festivals in Japan each year is the Sapporo Snow Festival. It’s not sponsored by the famous beer of the same name, it’s actually named after the city of Sapporo in which the three festival sites are located.

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 The festival began in the 50s when a group of students created a few simple snow sculptures in an area of the city called Odori. Since then it has grown into a huge event that attracts over 2 million visitors from all over the globe each February.


The original Odori site is still where you’ll find most of the snow sculptures. We’re not talking about a few sad snowmen – some of these sculptures reach a size of over 25 metres. The biggest sculpture at the 2017 festival was a recreation of France’s iconic Arc de Triomphe, which was a third of the size of the original. Other sculptures included the singer Pikotaro who had a massive hit on YouTube with his “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen” song. Donald Trump also put in an appearance, as a snow sculpture, holding an apple and a pen in deference to Pikotaro.


The most popular of the 200 plus sculptures at this 68th festival was a giant Star Wars vision in snow featuring R2D2, C3PO and Kylo Ren. At night, the sculptures come to life with impressive light and sound shows. There are also concerts, some using the works of art themselves as a stage.

Tsudome Site

The Tsudome Site is the one that’s a favourite for most families with young children. Outside there are amazing snow slides and rafts that children and adults alike can enjoy – imagine tobogganing but on an epic scale.


Inside the dome there are lots of other great attractions plus plenty of booths selling an assortment of fast food, Japanese style.

Susukino Site

We bet you’ve never seen ice sculptures quite on the scale or intricacy as you’ll see here. Some have even been created as rides for visitors to enjoy. This site also hosts an Ice Queen Beauty competition.


Throughout the festival you’ll never be short of things to keep you busy. There’s ice skating, snowboarding displays and hands-on opportunities to have a go at a sculpture or making ice glass for yourself.


If you’re thinking about going in 2018, here’s a list of the other snow festivals Japan hosts –

There’s no business like snow business, it seems!