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Held in early February, this is one of Japan's top festivals. From humble beginnings in 1950, when local high-school students built six snow statues in Ōdōri-kōen, the festival now hosts an international snow sculpture contest and draws more than two million visitors annually.
It's not just ice statues in Ōdōri-kōen and around town: there are frozen stages for musical acts and ice slides and mazes for kids. There are plenty of food and drink vendors and you can expect all kinds of 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.