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Sapporo Snow Festival 2023: Complete guide and must-knows!

Sapporo Snow Festival 2023: Complete guide and must-knows!
Grace Reveley
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Grace is a freelance travel and snowboard writer who is on a mission to travel to as many countries as possible. She is currently traveling Europe in her self-converted campervan. She loves snowboarding so is always chasing the winters, spending half the year in the mountains and the other half, by the sea.

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Sapporo is the largest city North of Tokyo. Every year millions of travelers make a detour to this amazing area for ramen, beer, and the Sapporo Snow Festival. 

The Sapporo Snow Festival isn't your average event. Compared to the likes of Burning Man and Rolling Loud, you're in for an alternative snowy treat.

With 100s of ice sculptures illuminated at night, delicious hot drinks served in ice bars, and adrenaline-boosting snowmobile rides, this festival needs to be on your Japan itinerary. 

If you're wondering where to stay, what the festival includes, and more, here are all the frosty details!

sapporo snow festival
Image courtesy of Sapporo Snow Festival

What is the Sapporo Snow Festival?

The Sapporo Snow Festival is known as Yuki Matsuri in Japanese.

The festival takes over the city of Sapporo for a week every February and is packed with over 100 ice sculptures illuminated at night to show off their impressive designs. 

Lining the streets of Sapporo are sculptures of all shapes and sizes. Millions of tourists visit every year to marvel at these sparkling creations. 

The ice sculptures are created by the locals of Sapporo. People come together to get creative at this festival, and even the Self Defense Force and staff from Sapporo City Hall try their hand at sculpting. 

As well as ice sculptures, the festival has giant ice slides, snow rafting, hot street food, and live events. All these wonderful activities are spread across three areas in Sapporo that are easily linked by public transport. 

japanese festival sapporo
Image courtesy of Sapporo Snow Festival

When is Sapporo Snow Festival 2023?

The 2023 Sapporo Snow Festival dates have now been announced! Get ready for a wintertime extravaganza and loads of fun!

The festival is held over one week and will begin on Saturday, February 4th, 2023, and ends on Saturday, February 11th, 2023.

Different Areas of Sapporo Snow Festival

The Sapporo Snow Festival is split up into three areas. Each one offers beautiful iced masterpieces, delicious hot local food, and plenty of keepsakes to buy. 

These areas of the festival are as follows:

Odori Site

The Odori site is based in Odori Park, where the Sapporo Snow Festival first began. Here you'll find all the sensational ice sculptures. 

Odori hosts some of the largest sculptures as well as 100s of little snowy creations. When the sun goes down, the sculptures are lit up, creating a beautiful light show.

Don't worry, you won't go hungry. The park also has many food vendors, and souvenir stands to explore. 

If you're after live events, that's something else you'll find in Odori Park. So layer up and be prepared for an evening of winter entertainment.

odori site sapporo festival
Image courtesy of Sapporo Snow Festival

Tsubame Site

This is the place to be for all things adventure. The snowmobiling, snow slides, snow rafting, and snow maze make this area really popular. 

With events and plenty of food stalls, Tsubame is a great place to spend the day before checking out the ice sculptures at night!

Susukino Site

Want even more ice sculptures? Of course, you do! You'll find your fix of icy art at the Susukino site. Located in the city's entertainment district, Susokino boasts over 100 ice sculptures that are also illuminated at night. 

After exploring the festival, head into the entertainment district for sushi trains, beer, and thrilling nightclubs. 

To access all the areas of the festival, you can hop in a taxi, take the JR train line, or use the subway. Or if you're feeling brave, you could also walk in the cold through the twinkling streets of Sapporo. 

ice festival sapporo
Image courtesy of Sapporo Snow Festival

What does the Sapporo Snow Festival Celebrate?

Back when it started in 1950, this festival was very different. It all began with high school students building a few snow statues in Odori Park. To everyone's surprise, their creations attracted around 50,000 people from all over Sapporo. 

This event is what started the annual tradition of the Sapporo Snow Festival! Today, the festival brings in millions of tourists every year from all over the world!

ice sculptures sapporo festival
Image courtesy of Sapporo Snow Festival

Was Sapporo Snow Festival 2022 Cancelled?

The Sapporo Snow Festival is usually held every February and spans over a week. Unfortunately, due to Corona Virus, the 2022 festival was canceled. 

The organizers of the event had to make the tough decision to cancel in an effort to protect those living in and traveling to Japan. 

Instead of a face-to-face event, Sapporo Snow Festival was an online event.

Where to Stay for Sapporo Snow Festival

The city of Sapporo has a huge range of hostels, hotels, and Airbnbs. With fantastic transport links around the city, staying in Sapporo for the festival is pretty hassle-free.

Some favorite areas to stay in Sapporo for the festival are: 

  • Odori Park: Best for location 
  • Susukino: Best for nightlife 
  • South of Sapporo Station: Best for budget

If you're staying in Sapporo, there's a great range of hostels to choose from. Just make sure your hostel has 24-hour security and a locker to stash away your backpack. 

Tips for Visiting Sapporo Snow Festival

If you're set on visiting this magical winter festival, these tips will help you stay warm, on budget, and out of long queues.  

Stick to these simple guidelines if it's your first time visiting Sapporo's famous winter festival, and you can't go wrong!

  • Dress warmly as the temperatures can drop as low as 19 °F. A good winter coat is essential!
  • Visit the festival on weekdays to avoid crowds.
  • If you're traveling through the rest of Japan, get a rail pass to save on train fares.
  • Make sure you try a Sapporo Classic beer, it's local and delicious.
  • Explore the rest of the city and surrounds! From bar hopping to snowshoe hikes, winter is a great time to visit Sapporo
sapporo snow festival transportation
Image courtesy of Tycho Atsma from Unsplash

Is Sapporo Snow Festival Worth It?

If you're looking for snowy fun in the heart of a vibrant city, the Sapporo Snow Festival is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

This winter wonderland stretches over 1 mile, offering ice sculptures, ice bars, snow slides, and much more. It's the perfect place to hang out with friends, have fun and make unforgettable memories.

If you're itching to visit the festival, jump on those bookings and travel plans. This will be a festival you won't forget!

Since you're enjoying the festival in Japan, remember to plan out an amazing itinerary of things to do in Tokyo as well!

Explore Sapporo with Pilot!

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If you decide to head to Sapporo Snow Festival, it will be the trip of a lifetime. There are so many things to see in Sapporo and the rest of Japan it's hard to know where to begin. That's where Pilot can help you organize your dream Japan trip. 

Pilot is your brand new trip planner that helps you discover and build travel itineraries connecting you to resources everywhere. Make the planning experience more fun by collaborating with your travel buddies! 

Pilot makes it fun and easy to share and relive your favorite travel memories with many useful features!

Did we mention that it's completely free? Try it out now!

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