Complete Sapporo Snow Festival Guide 2024

Every year in early February, an event called Sapporo Snow Festival(さっぽろ雪まつり, Sapporo Yuki Matsuri) is hosted by the local government of Sapporo, Hokkaido. Huge snow and ice sculptures appear in the city of Sapporo during the festival, attracting many tourists to visit not only Japan but also from all over the world. Along with Canada's Quebec Winter Carnival and the Harbin Ice Festival in China, the Sapporo Snow Festival is now counted as one of the three major snow festivals in the world. In this article, we will give a full guide to this famous and attractive winter event of Sapporo, introducing its origins, activities to do, the best time to visit, tips on clothes and area to stay, as well as some early information on the 2024 Sapporo Snow Festival.

The Sapporo Snow Festival of 2024 is scheduled from February 4 (Sunday) to February 11 (Sunday) for Odori Park Site and Susukino Site. The events at Tsudome Site are a little longer, it is a 12-days celebration starting from January 31 (Wednesday) to February 11 (Sunday). However, it is important to note that the content may be changed or canceled due to the weather, or unavoidable reasons on the organizer's side.

The light-up is usually 30 minutes before sunset, and since sunset time is around 16:50-16:59 in February in Sapporo, the sculptures are estimated to light up around 16:30.

There will be three sites of Sapporo Snow Festival: Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome.

Odori Park: It is the Sapporo Central Park near Odori Station, which could be the main stage of the snow festival with bustle atmosphere as well as snow activities and all kinds of interesting snow statues in large sizes, as well as some snow sculpture creation competitions for you to take apart.

Susukino: A venue that is quite easy to get around with two stations nearby Susukino Station and Nakajima Koen St
ation, where you can fully enjoy both the snow and ice sculptures made by the chief from the nearby hotels and restaurants. As well as a good place for a night trip, with the decoration of the light in various colors, which will give you another feeling about those vivid sculptures.

Tsudome: A venue a little far from the city center, arriving at Sakaemachi Station, but with a large area where you can have much to do with the snow, such as enjoy snow games such as snow slides and mazes, it is highly recommended for a family visit.

Marvel at the Masterpieces of Snow and Ice Sculptures

The snow and ice sculptures are always the highlight of the Snow Festival. Apart from the usual snowman, you can see some amazing things here. From giant snow figures up to 40 meters wide that you can even climb on, to delicate ice decorations that you can put in your garden, from the realistic to the fantastical. Like another white castle of Himeji-jo, the Kaiju of Godzilla, who is going to fight with King Kong, after a walk around the exhibition, you will always find some things you know with your high praise.

Enjoy the Creation of the Sculpture

When visiting a world with snow everywhere and all kinds of snow sculptures on display, it's hard not to get your creative juices flowing. Apart from roadside snowman-making, there are also snow sculpture competitions to enter. From the local competition to the global race for visitors to enjoy, even if you miss out on registering, you can still join in with the others' creations. For fewer crowds and better photo opportunities, with an early arrival of a little while, you can also catch a glimpse of the giant snow sculptures being created, with the subtle techniques and amazing imagination of its creators.

Try Out the Various Snow Activities

There is always a shortage of snow-related activities. Here you can enjoy the activities you are probably most familiar with, such as building a snowman or creating sculptures, having a snowball fight, sledding down a gentle slope, or thrilling ice skating. While in snowy Sapporo, you can also try the giant maze built with snow walls and a relaxing long, long snow slide from the hill, stay in a snow house or stop by a bar built with ice. So enjoy the winter fun with your family and friends!

To get to Sapporo, you can take a plane from the main cities of Japan, such as Tokyo, and arrive at New Chitose Airport, which is the gateway to Hokkaido.

After arriving at New Chitose Airport, there are two ways to get to the city center from the Airport: by bus or train. The train is recommended due to the possible traffic congestion that may happen on the street leading to Sapporo. You can take a JR line rapid train at the airport and get off at Sapporo station.

If you want to avoid congestion, the best time to visit the Sapporo Snow Festival is from 7 to 9 in the morning. Since it is early in the morning, there are usually fewer visitors, and the sculptures look the most beautiful. In addition, the sculptures at the Sapporo Snow Festival face east during the day to avoid the sun, but they look even more beautiful in the early morning when the sun shines.

Alternatively, the main venues at Odori Park Site and Susikino Site are expected to be relatively empty around 22:00-23:00, just before the end of the light-up. Therefore, it is recommended to visit during this period of the day if you are aiming for colorfully illuminated sculptures while trying to avoid crowds.

The Tsudome Site is open from 9:00 to 17:00 every day and usually starts a few days ahead of the other venues. It is especially popular with families with its great variety of winter activities. If you would like to avoid crowds, it is recommended to aim for the weekdays and non-holidays.

The average temperature in Sapporo in February is -5.8℃, which means that the cold can be tough for tourists that are not used to cold weather, so it is important to be careful with your clothing choices. Considering that you will be outdoors for a long time, choosing clothes such as thick coats, scarves, hats, gloves, and earmuffs will always be a good decision. In addition, the heating inside the buildings in Sapporo is usually very effective. Therefore in case you want to take off your coats, try to pack clothes that are easy to take off. Also, since the road surface is frozen, non-slip shoes are essential and it is not recommended to wear high heels.

The Odori Park Site and Susukino Site of the Sapporo Snow Festival are not far from each other and are both in the city center, so it is recommended to choose a hotel near or in the middle of the Odori Park and Susukino areas so that the venues are within walking distance. If you choose a hotel that is located along the main street in the Susukino area, you can easily access both venues within 10 minutes of walking. And if you stay in a hotel close to these two sites, it is also convenient for you to take a train to get to Tsudome Site. Also, it is recommended to secure a vacancy early, as it becomes difficult to get a reservation right before or during the festival.

The Sapporo Snow Festival is attractive to many people for several reasons, from the beautiful sculptures and how they are presented at different times of the day, to the plentiful choices of entertainment that all types of visitors can enjoy. Meanwhile, Sapporo is a modern city with distinctive winter features, as well as many places and gourmets that are worth experiencing. If you're going to plan for your Japan tour to join the grand and popular snow event next year, it is recommended to start early, around September. If you still have doubts about the decisions, feel free to contact our travel specialists to customize your entire journey, including visiting the Sapporo Snow Festival, fully based on your preferences.

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