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Sapporo Snow Festival (Feb 2023): Complete Guide to Japan's Famous Winter Festival

Sapporo Snow Festival (Feb 2023): Complete Guide to Japan's Famous Winter Festival

Date published: 7 February 2020
Last updated: 15 September 2022

The Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo Yuki Matsuri) is a popular snow and ice festival in Hokkaido, held from February 4–11, 2023, at Sapporo's Odori Park. One of this delightful festival's charms is getting to enjoy the many strikingly detailed snow sculptures that are exhibited.

Here we'll share what the festival is all about, and how you can enjoy it to the fullest, too!

Table of Contents
  1. What is the Sapporo Snow Festival?
  2. How the large snow sculptures at the Sapporo Snow Festival are made
  3. How to get to the Sapporo Snow Festival in Odori Park
  4. February in Hokkaido is very cold! Pack heavy clothes

What is the Sapporo Snow Festival?

Since its start in 1950, the Sapporo Snow Festival has been an annually celebrated winter tradition. This year, it's scheduled to be held for the 72nd time. The main attraction at this event is the various-sized snow sculptures.

Welcoming up to five meters of snow yearly, Sapporo is in a region with hefty snowfall. Each year, 30,000 tons of snow are gathered to make impressive snow sculptures using heavy machinery.

Here you can find of range of sculptures with different themes. Some of these include sculptures inspired by famous buildings and World Heritage sites such as Japanese castles, sculptures that use Japanese and Hokkaido Prefecture’s culture as a motif, and sculptures inspired by Japanese subcultures centering around sports, movies, manga, anime, and gaming.

Many people from all around the world come to see these sculptures! In 2019, the total number of guests who visited the event was said to be approximately 2.73 million. It’s a special festival where you can enjoy the snow, cold weather, and Hokkaido’s charm.

The 73rd Sapporo Snow Festival will be held at the Odori and Susukino venues for the first time in three years.

The festival will feature five giant snow sculptures, which are the main attraction, as well as small and medium-sized snow sculptures, snow sculptures made by citizens' groups, and winter attractions.

While product sales and PR booths will be set up as usual, the International Snow Sculpture Competition and food and drink stalls will be suspended as a health and safety measure and other factors.

Event Details
・Held from February 4–11, 2023
・Venues:
- Odori (Nishi 1-chome to Nishi 10-chome) and Susukino (Ekimae-dori from Minami 4-jo Dori to Minami 7-jo Dori)
*The Tsudome venue will not be held.

Venue Configuration (tentative)
・1-Chome: Winter attractions, etc.
・2-Chome: Small and medium-sized snow sculptures, snow sculptures made by citizens' groups, etc.
・3-Chome: Small and medium snow sculptures, snow sculptures made by citizens' groups, etc.
・4-Chome: Large snow sculpture
・5-Chome: Large snow sculpture
・6-Chome: Snow sculptures made by citizens' groups
・7-Chome: Large snow sculpture
・8-Chome: Large snow sculpture
・9-Chome: Snow sculptures made by citizens' groups
・10-Chome: Large Snow Statue

How the large snow sculptures at the Sapporo Snow Festival are made

How the large snow sculptures at the Sapporo Snow Festival are made

Let's take a look at how the giant snow sculptures used in previous years were made.

Every year, the design for the massive snow statues starts around the autumn of the previous year. Based on the draft, a 1/40 scale model is created. Then blueprints are drawn, and then a discussion about how to go about producing the statues.

The snow used for a giant snow sculpture can pile up to a four to five-story building and fill 600 trucks. Clean snow is collected from areas around Sapporo for a total volume of about 6,000 trucks.

On the location of the sculpture, the snow is piled up using heavy machinery, and a scaffold is built. The snow is then bound and stabilized. After creating a rough shape with heavy machinery, the statue is brought to life by hand.

This is an elaborate task that goes on throughout the night. Once the shape of the snow sculpture is created, other smaller components that have been sculpted are added, creating all the fine details.

How to get to the Sapporo Snow Festival in Odori Park

Image: PIXTA
Image: PIXTA

From New Chitose Airport
・By Train
JR New Chitose Airport Station → JR Sapporo Station → Sapporo Station on the Sapporo Municipal Subway (Namboku Line or Toho Line) → Odori Station (Approx. 50 minutes).

From JR New Chitose Airport Station, take the Airport rapid service train bound for Otaru on the Chitose Line. Get off at Sapporo Station and head towards the West Exit to take Sapporo Subway’s Namboku Line train bound for Makomanai. You can also choose to take the East Exit and head towards Sapporo Subway’s Toho Line train bound for Fukuzumi. Both trains will take you to Odori Station.

・By Bus
Two bus companies provide access to the Sapporo Snow Festival area.

Chuo Bus services bound for Odori Park leave from the stop located near Arrival Gate 4 on the first floor of the domestic terminal building. The ride is around 1 hour and 6 minutes.

Hokuto Kotsu buses (in front of Arrival Gate 2) will also stop near Odori Park and take around 1 hour and 8 minutes.

・From Odori Station on the Sapporo Municipal Subway
Odori Station is a terminal home to the Tozai Line, the Namboku Line, and the Toho Line. The platforms and where these lines take you all differ slightly, so it’s a good idea to choose one based on which part of Odori Park you want to go to.

The Namboku Line will take you to 3-Chome and 4-Chome, while the Toho Line is convenient for getting to 1-Chome and 2-Chome (near Sapporo TV Tower).

Exits to Take at Odori Station
・1-Chome
Exit 27
・3-Chome
Exit 6, Exit 8 (Elevator available)
・4-Chome
Exit 5
・5-Chome to 7-Chome
Exit 2

・From Sapporo Station via the Underground Passage
You can also walk straight to the venue from JR’s Sapporo Station in around 10-15 minutes.
Using the Sapporo Underground Pedestrian Space (Chikaho), you can easily get to the part of Odori Park located in 3-Chome and 4-Chome without having to deal with the cold.
Many exits at Odori Station are directly connected to different park areas, so this concourse is a perfect option for those looking to walk to their desired destination conveniently.

February in Hokkaido is very cold! Pack heavy clothes

Photo: PIXTA
Photo: PIXTA

Weather in February in Hokkaido, when the Sapporo Snow Festival is held, is incredibly cold. Temperatures below freezing are the norm.

To enjoy all this event has to offer, you will definitely need a heavy coat or down jacket and many other items to protect yourself from the cold weather. This may include hats, scarves, and gloves.

Because the festival also requires you to walk around outdoors for long periods of time, we recommend bringing a disposable heat pack or a hot drink.

Photo: PIXTA
Photo: PIXTA

Also, since the roads are icy during this time, we also recommend wearing non-slip snow boots or putting on some attachable slip resistance soles.

For the first time in three years, the Sapporo Snow Festival will be held in 2023! Why not experience this amazing festival for yourself?

Health & Safety Measures
Basic infection control measures such as wearing masks / Ensuring one-way traffic in aisles / Securing viewing space and managing flow / Guidance by security, periodic in-venue announcements / Distribution of venue congestion status

Text by: Minna no Kotobasha
*Information in this article is from September 2022. For updated information, please check the official websites.
*The content may change depending on circumstances around Covid in the future.

  • Sapporo Snow Festival (Susukino Venue)
    さっぽろ雪まつり すすきの会場
    • Address Ekimae-dori from Minami 4-jo Dori to Minami 7-jo Dori, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 060-0042
    • Dates: February 4 - 11, 2023

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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