Hokkaido welcomes its most bountiful season in early September! Events where you can try local, fall delicacies and ward off the snowy cold are held throughout the prefecture. Our local writers have carefully selected Hokkaido's fall and winter events that you should visit at least once!
*The introduced events may be canceled or scaled down depending on social conditions. Please check the official website for details.
- Table of Contents
- September: Sapporo Autumn Fest (Sapporo City)
- October: Marimo Festival (Kushiro City)
- November~March 2023: Sapporo White Illumination (Sapporo)
- November~April Visits to Asahiyama Zoo in the Winer (Asahikawa City)
- December~February: Hoshinoyume, A Shining Star Illuminates a Snowy Field (Hakodate City)
- January~February: Sairinka®, A Fantastical Exhibit of Light and Sound (Tokachigawa Onsen)
- January ~February: Ice Festival at Lake Shikotsu, Chitose (Lake Shikotsu)
- January~March: Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan, A Small Village of Snow and Ice (Shikaribetsu Kotan)
- January ~March: Sounkyo Onsen Ice Fall Festival (Sounkyo)
- January~March: Steam Locomotive Fuyu-no-Shitsugen Train (Kushiro City)
- February: Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo City)
- February: Otaru Snow Light Path (Otaru City)
- February: Asahikawa Winter Festival (Asahikawa City)
- The Best Way to Enjoy Cold Weather and Snow!
September: Sapporo Autumn Fest (Sapporo City)
Sapporo Autumn Fest, held since 2008, is a food festival that celebrates Hokkaido’s harvest season and flavors of fall. 2022 welcomes back the event for the first time in three years! Centering around the theme, “Food of Hokkaido and Sapporo City,” various stalls are set up in Odori 4 Chome to 11 Chome and Soseigawa Park Tanuki Nijo Plaza. Here you can enjoy booths that feature delicacies from Hokkaido’s oceans and mountains, the Hokkaido Ramen Festival, the Sapporo Gourmet Selection sponsored by Sapporo Breweries bars, and wine and sake booths.
At the "Hokkaido Market" in Odori 8 Chome, municipalities sell local specialties to promote the region. This market is crowded with customers delighting in a variety of local dishes and seasonal ingredients including crabs, oysters, and fresh vegetables.
*The event and schedule are subject to change. Please refer to the official website.
Sapporo Autumn Festさっぽろオータムフェスト
- Address Odori Nishi 1, 4 - 8, 10 - 11, Odori Nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 060-0042
When: September 9 ~October 1, 2022
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.（Last order at 8:00 p.m.）
TEL: 011-281-6400（Sapporo Tourist Association）
October: Marimo Festival (Kushiro City)
The marimo-moss balls, that inhabit Lake Akan take on their spherical shape as thread-like algae tumble on the lake bottom and are swayed by the waves. Although marimo are now protected as a national natural treasure, in around 1950 , it was on the verge of extinction due to rampant theft, illegal sales, and the destruction of the lake environment. The Marimo Festival was organized to return marimo back to Lake Akan and conserve it.
The 2022 Marimo Festival will be held for three days at Lake Akan Onsen-a hot spring village situated south of the lake. During the Kamuinomi ceremony of the Ainu people, devout prayers are offered to the gods of nature through marimo. Here you can experience the traditions and solemn atmosphere of the Ainu.
*Schedules and details are subject to change. Please refer to the official website.
October 8th (Monday)
10:30 a.m. Lecture on marimo growth
1:00 p.m. Marimo habitat observation *Only for those who attended the lecture
October 9th (Tuesday,)
1:00 p.m. Marimo dance procession
7:30 p.m. Ceremony to welcome the marimo
7:45 p.m. Taimatsu march (at the lakeside village, Ainu Kotan) *Ritual to protect marimo
8:15 p.m. Ainu folk dance performance (Ainu Kotan Plaza)
*All festivities for October 9 have been canceled.
October 10th (Wednesday)
10:00 a.m. Kamuinomi (Ainu Kotan ponchise (little house)) *Ainu folk dance performance
10:30 a.m. Marimo procession (at the lakeside village, Ainu Kotan)
11:30 a.m. Ceremony to send the marimo to the lake (at the lakeside village)
- Address 4-7-19, Akanko-onsen, Akan-cho, Kushiro, Hokkaido 085-0467
When: mid-October *Scheduled to be held from October 8 - 10, 2022
Time: Varies according to the date
TEL: 0154-67-3200（Akan Tourist Association)
November~March 2023: Sapporo White Illumination (Sapporo)
In 1981, Sapporo White Illumination was held as the first illumination event in Japan. Odori Park (Nishi 1 Chome ~6 Chome) is the main venue, and brightly colored bulbs decorate Sapporo Ekimae-dori (Kita 4 Jo ~Minami 4 Jo Sapporo Ekimae-dori median strip), Minami Ichijo Dori (Nishi 1 Chome ~3 Chome), Sapporo Kita 3 Jo Plaza "Akapura" (Kita 2 Jo, Nishi 4 Chome, or Kita 3 Jo Nishi 4 Chome), and the Sapporo Station South Exit Station Square (Kita 5 Jo Nishi 3 Chome). Enjoy the glowing bulbs throughout the city!
The Munich Christmas Market was first held in Odori Park 2 Chome in 2002, to commemorate Sapporo’s 30th anniversary with its sister city, Munich, Germany. This event lasts until December 25th, and you can enjoy shopping for Christmas trinkets, warming up with some mulled wine, and delighting in delicious German food. Enjoy a romantic, white Christmas illuminated by warm light. This event offers a range of cozy Christmas experiences on a cold day!
Sapporo White Illuminationさっぽろホワイトイルミネーション
- Address 1-8 Odori-Nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 060-0042
When: November 22, 2022 - March 14, 2023
Odori Park /November 22 - December 25
Sapporo Ekimae Dori /November 22 - February 11, 2023
Minami Ichijo Dori /November 22 - March 14, 2023
Kita 3-jo Plaza "Akapura"/November 22 - March 14, 2023
Sapporo Station South Exit Station Square /November 22 - March 14, 2023
Time: 4:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. (until midnight from December 23 - 25)
TEL: 011-281-6400 (Sapporo White Illumination Executive Committee)
November~April Visits to Asahiyama Zoo in the Winer (Asahikawa City)
Asahiyama Zoo is a zoo that features fascinating exhibits that show animals in their natural habitat. At the zoo, you can enjoy watching animals from cold climates thrive in winter weather. The seal pool has a man-made ice floe, where seals poke their heads out from holes in the ice.
The “penguin walk" event is held twice a day-once in the morning and once in the afternoon. This event is more of a way for the penguins to get some exercise, rather than a show for visitors. Penguins walk in a line on pure white snow, gathering attention wherever they roam.
- Address Kuranuma, Higashi Asahikawa-cho, Asahikawa-shi, Hokkaido 078-8205
When: November 11, 2022 - April 9, 2023
Time: 10:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. (last entry 3:00 p.m.)
Admission: 900 yen
December~February: Hoshinoyume, A Shining Star Illuminates a Snowy Field (Hakodate City)
For a limited time on winter nights, the large star-shaped illumination, Goryo-Hoshinoyume (dream of stars), lights up Goryokaku Park in Hakodate City. From sunset until 8 p.m., Goryokaku Park’s moat is lit with approximately 2,000 light bulbs that form a beautiful star shape.
Head to Goryokaku Tower’s observation deck to see a giant star floating on fluffy snow! The brilliantly white Goryo-Hoshinoyume can clearly be seen from above. Goryokaku Park is only a ten-minute walk from the “Goryokaku Koen Iriguchi” bus stop. We recommend stopping by to enjoy romantic, winter landscapes!
Goryo-Hoshinoyume (dream of stars)五稜星の夢
- Address 43-9 Goryokaku-cho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0001
When: December 1, 2022 - February 28, 2023
Time: Sunset - 8:00 p.m.
TEL: 0138-51-4785 (Goryo-Hoshinoyume Executive Committee)
January~February: Sairinka®, A Fantastical Exhibit of Light and Sound (Tokachigawa Onsen)
Every year, From late January to late February, Sairinka® is held at Tokachigaoka Park, located within the hot spring town of Tokachigawa Onsen. Approximately 600 light bulbs and LED lights create a fantastical space where sound and light are synchronized. This is done by using a stage lighting control system.
"Light and Sound Fantasy" is a festival program that offers a never-before-seen, fantastical experience! Various staging effects are used for an incredibly entertaining show. Don’t miss out on this treat for the eyes in icy cold Hokkaido!
- Address 14, Tokachigawaonsen-kita, Onsen-kita, Ondo-cho, Kawato-gun, Hokkaido 080-0262
When: January 28, 2023 – February 19
Illumination Duration: 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
January ~February: Ice Festival at Lake Shikotsu, Chitose (Lake Shikotsu)
“Hyotou" is a phenomenon in which sprays from Lake Shikotsu freeze to form ice blocks and icicles in winter. The Chitose Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival is a spectacular event where sprinklers are used to spray the lake's water and freeze it, artificially creating large ice waves.
During the day, ice formations glow a natural and beautiful blue color. otherwise known as "Lake Shikotsu Blue". At night, you can enjoy a fantastical experience, and watch the ice glow in a range of bright colors. The 2023 stage performances, stores, and events will not be available, and the number of visitors will be restricted to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Please check the official website for details.
Chitose Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival千歳・支笏湖氷濤まつり（ちとせ・しこつこひょうとうまつり）
- Address Shikotsuko Onsen Bangaichi, Chitose City, Hokkaido 066-0281
When: January 28 - February 23, 2023 (Thursday)
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.; light-up from 4:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Admission: 500 yen for high school students and older (free for junior high school students and under)
TEL: 0123-23-8288（Lake Shikotsu Festival Executive Committee)
January~March: Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan, A Small Village of Snow and Ice (Shikaribetsu Kotan)
Shikaribetsu Kohan Onsen is in a remote part of Hokkaido. Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan was built approximately 40 years ago, after volunteers became concerned about the low number of tourists in the winter, and decided to create a village on the frozen lake. Along with its many ice lodges, here you can enjoy making glasses out of ice at the ice factory, or head to the ice bar and relax with an alcoholic or hot drink.
There’s even an open-air bath where you can soak in warm waters while gazing at the surrounding snowy landscape! Relax without worrying about passerbyers, and enjoy the unique, rustic atmosphere!
Lake Shikaribetsu Kotanしかりべつ湖コタン
- Address Kita-Urihama, Shikao-cho, Kawato-gun, Hokkaido 081-0344
When: January 28, 2023 - March 12
Time: 9:00 - 8:00 p.m.
January ~March: Sounkyo Onsen Ice Fall Festival (Sounkyo)
The Sounkyo Onsen Ice Fall Festival is one of the longest-running events in northern Hokkaido, held from late January to mid-March at a special facility along the Ishikari River. The festival was first held in 1976 to attract visitors in the winter. Water pumped from the Ishikari River is sprayed over a log framework to create ice statues, ice tunnels, ice domes, and ice sculptures. Nights in this area are freezing, and art is created in harsh working environments.
At night, mystical lights glow in seven different colors to create spectacular scenery! The 100-meter-long tunnel connecting the entire venue is softly lit, and if you look up at the ceiling, you’ll find icicles bunched together to look like chandeliers. A 13-meter ice observatory offers a panoramic view of this fantastical ice exhibit glowing in a range of colors! Please note that admission starts from the evening.
Sounkyo Onsen Ice Fall Festival層雲峡温泉 氷瀑まつり
- Address Sounkyo, Kamikawa-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido 078-1701
When: Late January - Mid-March *Schedule for 2023 is undecided
Time: 5:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Subsidy: 500 yen
TEL: 01658-2-1811（Sounkyo Tourist Association)
January~March: Steam Locomotive Fuyu-no-Shitsugen Train (Kushiro City)
Fuyu-no-Shitsugen (winter wetlands train) is a steam locomotive-drawn resort train that’s been limiting its services to winter since 2000. The train travels through the undisturbed Kushiro Marsh where you can see rare wildlife such as red-crowned cranes, Ezo sika deer, and white-tailed eagles from train windows.
The cars have been around since the Showa era, and have an inviting, retro atmosphere. Train cars also have a coal stove where you can roast and eat surume-dried squid, and other treats! A trip on this train makes for a completely unique experience!
Steam Locomotive Fuyu-no-ShitsugenSL冬の湿原号
- Address 14-1-78 Kitaodori, Kushiro City, Hokkaido 085-0015 (JR Kushiro station)
When: January - March
Open: Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays during service periods
TEL: 0154-24-3176 (JR Kushiro Station)
February: Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo City)
The Sapporo Snow Festival is one of Japan's major winter events, and attracts tourists from all over the world! It’s said to have started in 1950, when students from two junior high schools and three high schools in Sapporo created a total of six snow sculptures in Odori Park's 7-Chome area. This area used to be a snow dumping ground for locals. The festival has grown over the years, and is now held at three venues: Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome (*to be cancelled in 2023).
Odori Park, the main venue of the festival, is lined with more than 200 snow and ice sculptures, as well as works from the International Snow Sculpture Contest-stretching 1.5 kilometers across the park. At night, the park is beautifully lit, creating a fantastical atmosphere. What’s more, in recent years, projection mapping has made for impressive and artistic performances. The Susukino venue has ice sculptures and an ice bar. At the Tsudome venue, the giant snow slide is a hit with families.
Sapporo Snow Festivalさっぽろ雪まつり
- Address 1-12 Odori-Nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 060-0042
When: February 4-11, 2023
*The 2023 snow festival will be cancelled at the Tsudome venue.
* The “International Snow Sculpture Contest " and "Food and Beverage Booths" (shops and as PR booths will be available per usual) will be cancelled due to Covid-19.
Time: Open to the public at any time (illuminations from sunset to 10:00 p.m.)
TEL: 011-281-6400 (Sapporo Snow Festival Executive Committee)
February: Otaru Snow Light Path (Otaru City)
The Otaru Snow Light Path is a winter festival held in Otaru City. It was first organized by volunteers to promote tourism in the winter. Centering around the theme, "human connection", candles are placed throughout the city by neighborhood associations as well as volunteers from the region and abroad.
Candles are lined up along the historic streets of Otaru, such as the Otaru Canal and the Old Temiya Line Railroad, creating a fantastical atmosphere. Make sure to dress warmly before you take strolls along softly lit paths!
Otaru Snow Light Path小樽雪あかりの路
- Address Minato-cho, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido 047-0007
When: February 11, 2023 - February 18
Time: candles are lit from 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Tel: 0134-32-4111 (Otaru Snow Light Path Executive Committee)
February: Asahikawa Winter Festival (Asahikawa City)
The Asahikawa Winter Festival is said to have been first held in 1946, after creating snow sculptures from piles of snow that were in need of disposal. Today, the festival is held on the banks of the Ishikari River and at the foot of the Asahi Bridge, Tokiwa Park, and around the shopping area in front of JR Asahikawa Station. Many large snow statues are made on the expansive riverbed.
A stage is set in front of large snow, sculptures-making for a lively atmosphere. Here you can enjoy live music and dancing. In addition to this, the World Ice Art Championships are held around JR Asahikawa Station and in the shopping area. Ice sculptures created in a 40-hour competition are displayed. Don’t miss out on these impressive works!
Asahikawa Winter Festival旭川冬まつり
- Address Tokiwa Park, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 070-0044
When: February 7 - 12, 2023
Time: 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
TEL: 0166-25-7168（Asahikawa Winter Festival Executive Committee)
The Best Way to Enjoy Cold Weather and Snow!
Winter events in Hokkaido allow you to enjoy the prefecture’s cold climate and snow! Left-over snow can be transformed into art such as snow sculptures. You can also enjoy illuminated, pure white landscapes with a fantastical atmosphere. Take a trip to some of the introduced events and festivals to experience the best of Hokkaido's winter!
*The information in this article is from October 2022. Please check the official website for the latest information.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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