Sapporo Snow Festival
Sapporo Snow Festival information
Drawing more than two million visitors, the annual Sapporo Yuki Matsuri takes place in early February, and is arguably one of Japan's top festivals. Its humble origins go back to 1950, when local high-school students built six snow statues in Ōdōri-kōen. By 1974, the event had grown into an international contest attracting teams from more than a dozen countries. Taking weeks and weeks to carve, past snow sculptures have included life-sized statues of Hideki Matsui, entire frozen stages for visiting musical acts, ice slides and mazes for the kiddies and – of course – a cutesy-cool Hello Kitty statue or two. You can view these icy behemoths in Ōdōri kōen as well as in other locations around the city. The festival also highlights the best in regional food and drink from across the island, and you can expect all kinds of wild and drunken revelry, particularly once the sun sets (at these latitudes, it's quite early!). Finding reasonably priced accommodation can be extremely difficult, so book as far in advance as possible.