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Fun Summer Festivals and Events in Hokkaido (June/July/August 2024)

Fun Summer Festivals and Events in Hokkaido (June/July/August 2024)

Last updated: 17 June 2024

Summer in Hokkaido is notably brief, with some areas requiring stoves by late August. To make the most of the scarce sunshine, various vibrant festivals and events take place across the region. These range from local festivities enjoyed by the residents to large-scale events that attract visitors from within Japan and internationally.

A local writer handpicks and introduces must-visit festivals and events happening in Hokkaido during June, July, and August, offering a guide to the summer's highlights.

YOSAKOI Soran Festival - Dynamic Dancing That Captivates! (June; Sapporo City)

Image credit: YOSAKOI Soran Festival Organizing Committee
Image credit: YOSAKOI Soran Festival Organizing Committee

The YOSAKOI Soran Festival is a harbinger of early summer in Sapporo, inspired by the powerful Yosakoi dance witnessed by Hokkaido University students in Kochi. They brought a similar event to Sapporo, mixing the Yosakoi Festival with Hokkaido's folk song Soran Bushi in 1992.

Starting with just ten teams, the festival has grown into a major event with about 30,000 participants from Japan and abroad, thanks to the dancers' dynamic performances and unique costumes.

Odori Park, the main venue, hosts performances by all teams. Experience the unique energy that envelops Sapporo for five days in early summer.

  • YOSAKOI Soran Festival
    • Address Odori-Nishi 8, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0042
    • ・Dates: June 5th - 9th
      ・Phone number: 011-231-4351 (YOSAKOI Soran Festival Organizing Committee)
      ・Hours: Varies depending on the date and time
      ・Closed: Open daily during the festival period
      ・Access: 8 min. walk from Odori Subway Station, Sapporo City

Hokkaido Shrine Festival - Sapporo's Historic Festival (June; Sapporo City)

Mikoshi (portable shrines) and floats parade through the city center. Image credit: Hokkaido Shrine
Mikoshi (portable shrines) and floats parade through the city center. Image credit: Hokkaido Shrine

During early summer, Sapporo city comes alive with various exciting events, including the Hokkaido Shrine Festival that takes place every year from June 14 to 16.

The festival, also known as Sapporo Matsuri, has been celebrated for over a century.

The highlight of the festival is the Mikoshi Togyo parade on June 16, where citizens dressed in Heian-period costumes march through the city with four mikoshi (portable shrines) and eight floats, leaving onlookers captivated with their stunning appearance.

Visitors can also enjoy traditional dedicatory performances and sample various local delicacies at the food stalls located within the shrine precinct and Nakajima Park, creating a festive atmosphere. Take this opportunity to experience Japan's rich traditions and culture at the Hokkaido Shrine Festival.

  • Hokkaido Shrine Festival
    • Address 474-35 Miyagaoka, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0959
    • ・Dates: June 14 - 16, 2024
      ・Phone number: 011-621-0769 (Hokkaido Jingu Shrine)

Shiraoi Beef Festival - A Gourmet Event Wrapped in Delicious Aromas (June; Shiraoi Town)

Image credit: Shiraoi Tourism Association
Image credit: Shiraoi Tourism Association

The Shiraoi Beef Festival is an annual food event that attracts around 50,000 visitors. It is held on the first weekend of June at Porotominato, located north of Shiraoi Station.

The festival is famous for serving delicious Shiraoi beef, including 100% Shiraoi-produced Kuroge Wagyu beef hamburgers and festival-exclusive Shiraoi burgers, among other food items. With approximately 1,200 charcoal grills, the festival area is filled with mouthwatering smoke and aromas.

The highlight of the festival is the limited sale of the Whole Roasted Kuroge Wagyu Beef. If you attend the festival, you can indulge in the tastes of Shiraoi to your heart's content.

  • Shiraoi Beef Festival
    • Address 1-1-21 Wakakusa-cho, Shiraoi-cho, Shiraoi-gun, Hokkaido 059-0902
    • ・Period: June 1 and 2, 2024
      ・Inquiries: 0144-82-6491 Shiraoi Beef Brand Promotion Council (Shiraoi Town Hall, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Division)
      ・Admission: Free of charge

Toyohira River Fireworks Festival - Brightening Sapporo Nights (July; Sapporo City)

Vibrant Toyohira River
Vibrant Toyohira River

The Dosin-UHB Fireworks Festival, also known as the Toyohira River Fireworks Festival, is held every late July in central Sapporo.

The event features about 4,000 fireworks launches that include wide starmines and creative fireworks displays. The program is divided into three parts, with the grand finale being the most breathtaking. The successive fireworks displays in the final part will draw cheers from the crowd.

You can watch the event from different locations around the city, including the riverbank, in front of Nakajima Park's observatory, Horohira Bridge, and the Ferris wheel at Norbesa commercial building. Choose your favorite spot and enjoy the stunning spectacle.

  • Doshin-UHB Fireworks Festival
    • Address Toyohira River riverbed, near Minami 13 Nishi 1, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0913
    • ・Date: Last Friday in July
      ・Phone number: 011-210-5733 (Hokkaido Shimbun Business Center)
      ・Hours: 9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
      ・Closed: Saturday, Sunday and national holidays
      ・Access: 5 min. walk from Horohirabashi Sta. or Nakanoshima Sta. on the Sapporo Subway Namboku Line

Sapporo Summer Festival - Beer Gardens and Bon Odori! (July; Sapporo City)

Image credit: Sapporo Tourism Photo Library
Image credit: Sapporo Tourism Photo Library

The Sapporo Summer Festival is a major summer event in Sapporo, held annually from late July to early August, starting with the Sapporo Odori Beer Garden. Sapporo's climate is ideal for brewing beer, and the Sapporo Brewery was established during the pioneer era. The beer garden, held in six blocks of Odori Park, is one of the largest in Japan, bustling with people.

Image credit: Sapporo Tourism Photo Library
Image credit: Sapporo Tourism Photo Library

In mid-August, Hokkai Bon Odori takes place at Odori Park West 2 Block. Bon Odori, a ritual to honor ancestors, features dancing in a circle around a yagura tower with Japanese drums. Dancing in yukatas to the Hokkai Bon Uta and drums, you'll feel the essence of Japan. Various events also take place in the Tanukikoji and Susukino areas. Enjoy Sapporo's brief summer with the locals.

  • Sapporo Summer Festival
    • Address Odori Park, Susukino, Tanukikoji, etc.
    • ・Inquiries: 011-291-7300 (Sapporo Summer Festival Executive Committee), 011-281-6400 outside of the festival period
      ・Dates: July 19th - August 16th
      ・Admission: Free

Otaru Ushio Festival - Otaru's Signature Summer Festival (July; Otaru City)

Caption: The refreshing port town wrapped in excitement
Caption: The refreshing port town wrapped in excitement

The Otaru Ushio Festival takes place over three days in late July at Otaru Port's #3 Pier. It has been held annually since 1967 and has become a well-established event among the locals. The festival offers a chance to experience the essence of Hokkaido and Otaru.

Some of the highlights of the festival include the Otaru Ushio Ondo and Ushio Odori Uta, which are parades that pass through the streets. Teams from local businesses and organizations participate in these events, and anyone can join in. On the final day of the festival, there is the Ushio Citizen Regatta boat race, as well as a parade of fishing and houseboats in Otaru Harbor.

This is the main event of the festival and is capped off by a fireworks display.

If you're visiting Sapporo, the festival is only a 50-minute drive away, and it's definitely worth checking out.

  • Otaru Ushio Festival
    • Address Minato-cho, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido 047-0007
    • ・Event Period: July 26 - 28, 2024
      ・Phone Number: 0134-32-4111 ext. 266, 267, 450, 451 (Otaru City Industrial Port Department Tourism Promotion Office)
      ・Hours: 9 AM - 5:20 PM
      ・Closed: Weekends and Public Holidays
      ・Access: A 10-minute walk from JR Hakodate Main Line Otaru Station

Nakafurano Lavender Festival - Fireworks Over Lavender Fields! (July; Nakafurano Town)

Caption: Blooming lavenders decorate the fields. Image credit: Nakafurano Tourism Association
Caption: Blooming lavenders decorate the fields. Image credit: Nakafurano Tourism Association

From late June to early August, the Furano area, about a 2-hour and 10-minute drive from Sapporo, bursts into color. The Nakafurano Lavender Festival in July turns the hillsides purple with lavender, filling the town with a perfume-like fragrance.

The Kitahoshiyama Lavender Garden is a wonderful place to visit, especially for its beautiful views. You can enjoy the pastoral landscape from the summit by taking a 5-minute tourist lift ride. At night, you can watch a spectacular fireworks display that is themed around lavender, which will paint the sky with beautiful colors. This promises to be an unforgettable experience. You can visit the garden as if you're going on a picnic.

  • Nakafurano Lavender Festival
    • Address 1-41 Miyamachi, Nakafurano-cho, Sorachi-gun, Hokkaido 071-0714
    • ・Event Period: Every Saturday in mid-July
      ・Phone Number: 0167-39-3033 (Nakafurano Tourist Association)
      ・Hours: 8:30 AM - 5 PM
      ・Closed: Weekends and Public Holidays
      ・Access: A 10-minute walk from JR Furano Line Nakafurano Station

Rising Sun Rock Festival - All-Night Music Enjoyment! (August; Ishikari City)

Image material: PIXTA (This image is for illustration purposes only)
Image material: PIXTA (This image is for illustration purposes only)

The Rising Sun Rock Festival is one of the biggest outdoor music festivals in Japan, held every August. The festival's name represents the experience of welcoming the sunrise (Rising Sun) after a night-long celebration.

Multiple stages are set up in an industrial area near Ishikari Bay New Port Tarukawa Pier, featuring a diverse lineup of artists. The 2023 festival attracted 64,000 attendees with around 70 artists performing, creating a frenzy among the audience.

A shuttle bus service operates from Asabu Station to the venue. The 2024 festival is scheduled for August 16 and 17. Ticket information will be announced in February, and sales will start in March in stages. Please check the official website for details.

  • Rising Sun Rock Festival
    • Address 1 Shinko Chuo, Ishikari, Hokkaido 061-3242
    • ・Event Dates: August 16 - 17, 2024
      ・Admission Fee: Varies depending on ticket type (* Elementary school students and younger: Free admission / Must be accompanied by a guardian)

Mikasa Hokkai Bon Odori - Dancing in Circles! (August; Mikasa City)

In Japan, the period of mid-August is known as Obon. It is believed that during this time, the spirits of the deceased return to their former homes. The Bon Odori is a ritual that is performed to welcome these spirits with joy. The grand Bon Odori dance festival is held in Mikasa City, which is the birthplace of the Hokkai Bon Uta.

Central Park in Mikasa City sets up a special tower for Bon Odori, where people dance in circles from August 13 to 15. Anyone can join in and the simple choreography can be learned within minutes. An evening fireworks festival is also held on the final day at 7 PM.

The festival offers a quintessential Hokkaido summer experience and is just a 30-minute drive from Sapporo.

  • Mikasa Hokkai Bon Odori
    • Address 21-1 Taga-cho, Mikasa-shi, Hokkaido 068-2153
    • ・Event Period: Typically August 13th to 15th each year
      ・Phone Number: 01267-2-3997 (Mikasa City Hall Commerce and Tourism Division)
      ・Hours: 8:30 AM - 5 PM
      ・Closed: Weekends and Public Holidays
      ・Access: A 1-minute walk from Mikasa City Hall-mae bus stop, Hokkaido Chuo Bus

Noboribetsu Jigokudani Festival - Demons Appear in the Hot Spring Town! (August; Noboribetsu City)

Caption: Brave demons launching fireworks. Image provided by Noboribetsu International Tourism & Convention Association
Caption: Brave demons launching fireworks. Image provided by Noboribetsu International Tourism & Convention Association

Noboribetsu Onsen, about a 1-hour and 50-minute drive from Sapporo on the expressway, is home to an active volcanic valley known as "Hell Valley (Jigokudani)." The Noboribetsu Jigokudani Festival, inspired by this hellish landscape, is held annually on the last Saturday and Sunday of August.

Legend has it that "the gates of Hell's cauldron open, and Enma, the King of Hell, visits the hot spring town with his demons."

The festival features Noboribetsu drums, demon mikoshi (portable shrines) carried by local junior high students, and demon dances, with Enma also parading through Paradise Street. The demon mikoshi tumult is a highlight, with about 100 young people bravely carrying a nearly one-ton red demon mikoshi. The finale, Jigokudani Burst Fireworks, fills the valley with a spectacular display of fireworks.

  • Noboribetsu Jigokudani Festival
    • Address Noboribetsu Onsen-cho, Noboribetsu-shi, Hokkaido 059-0551
    • ・Event Period: Last Saturday and Sunday of every August
      ・Phone Number: 0143-84-3311 (Noboribetsu International Tourism Convention Association)
      ・Hours: 9 AM - 5 PM
      ・Closed: Irregular
      ・Access: Approximately 15 minutes by Donan Bus bound for Noboribetsu Onsen from JR Muroran Main Line "Noboribetsu Station" to "Noboribetsu Onsen Bus Terminal", or about 10 minutes by car from Doto Expressway "Noboribetsu-higashi IC"

Hakodate Port Festival - A Grand Event with About 20,000 Citizens Parading (August; Hakodate City)

"Wasshoi Hakodate" parades through the port town. Image provided by Hakodate International Tourism & Convention Association
"Wasshoi Hakodate" parades through the port town. Image provided by Hakodate International Tourism & Convention Association

The Hakodate Port Festival is one of Hokkaido's oldest events. It was first held in 1935 to comfort and rebuild after the Great Hakodate Fire, and has over 80 years of history. The festival has five parts, starting with a fireworks show that lights up the night sky from Green Island in Hakodate Harbor. With few high-rise buildings in the city, the fireworks can be viewed from various locations, including Mount Hakodate, offering a breathtaking view.

Wasshoi Hakodate is the main event of the festival, and sees about 20,000 citizens in various costumes dancing through the streets to the Hakodate Port Dance and Hakodate Squid Dance, which everyone is said to know. It is easy to learn the dances, so practicing from the official website and joining in is recommended.

Travel to Hakodate takes about 4 hours by express train or 4.5 hours via the expressway from Sapporo. The festival concludes with an awards ceremony on the final day. Everyone is welcome to participate, so enjoy!

  • Hakodate Port Festival
    • Address 12 Wakamatsu-cho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0063 (Hakodate Ekimae venue)
    • ・Event Period: August 1st - 5th each year
      ・Phone Number: 0138-23-5440 (Hakodate Tourist Information Center)
      ・Hours: 9 AM - 7 PM
      ・Closed: New Year's holidays
      ・Access: Right outside "Hakodate-eki-mae" tram stop, Hakodate City Tram "Hakodate Station"

Hokkaido Summer Festivals: Embracing the Short Season with Warmth and Passion

Image credit: Sapporo Tourism Photo Library
Image credit: Sapporo Tourism Photo Library

In Hokkaido, the saying goes, "Once Obon passes, autumn arrives quickly," highlighting the brief warm season. That's why the locals fully immerse themselves in enjoying festivals. Beyond those introduced, there are various events, including small community festivals and food-centric celebrations. Visit these festivals to experience the beauty of Hokkaido.

(Note: The information in this article is as of February 2024. Please check the official websites for the latest information.)

Written by:

Masakazu Yoshida

Masakazu Yoshida

Residing in Sapporo, Masakazu has built his career in various private enterprises and government positions in Hokkaido. In April 2016, he transitioned from being a company employee to a freelance writer. Currently, Masakazu works as a freelance writer alongside other occupations, primarily focusing on showcasing the charm of Hokkaido through web media platforms.

*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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