All About Japan

Top 4 Snow Festivals in Hokkaido 2020!

| Snow , Hokkaido

Japan’s snow festivals are famous around the world, and many of the biggest and best take place in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido. So whether you’re looking for awe-inspiring snow sculptures or romantic snow lanterns, there’s something here for you! These are four of our favorites.

4. Chitose Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival

Lake Shikotsu is part of Shikotsu-Toya National Park, and is renowned for its pure, crystal-clear water. During the festival, this water is used to create ornate ice sculptures for visitors to admire. By day they sparkle their natural blue in the sunlight, while at night they glow magically under colorful illumination.

As well as the ice sculptures, this event boasts spectacular fireworks displays and lively taiko drumming performances, plus ice skating and other icy activities. The area is also well known for its onsen, and a visit to one of these hot springs is a great way to banish the cold after enjoying the festival!

Details for 2020
Dates: January 24 - February 16

3. Asahikawa Winter Festival

The Asahikawa Winter Festival is centered around one particularly show-stopping feature: a colossal snow sculpture that is actually used as a frozen stage, where you can watch live music performances and fireworks displays! The event also hosts an international ice sculpting competition in the city center. Over the first few days you can watch the artists at work as they create their masterpieces, after which the completed sculptures are displayed and illuminated at night.

Festival-goers can also enjoy a whole range of snowy fun and games, including an ice slide, snowmobile rides, snowmen building and—to round off the night—an ice bar!

Details for 2020
Dates: February 6 - 11

2. Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

If you’re looking for a truly magical and romantic winter festival, Otaru’s Snow Light Path Festival is the one for you. For a 10-day period, the town is transformed into a sea of small lanterns and illuminated snow sculptures. They float in the canal, line the water’s edge and run alongside the area’s abandoned railroad, creating an intimate and cozy atmosphere quite different to festivals like Asahikawa's and Sapporo’s.

As you stroll alongside the canal, with the soft glow of the lanterns reflected in the water, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported into the pages of a fairytale.

Details for 2020
Dates: February 9 - 16

1. Sapporo Snow Festival

Number one comes in as no surprise, since the Sapporo Snow Festival is the jewel in Japan's crown! Featuring world-famous snow sculptures that are created by the Japanese Self-Defense Force and modeled on pop culture classics like Star Wars and Final Fantasy, it’s easily the most popular winter festival in the country. This does mean it gets pretty crowded, but the payoff is more than worth it—as well as the gravity-defying snow statues, you can enjoy live music, illuminations and food stalls, plus the chance to explore all that the lively city of Sapporo has to offer!

Details for 2020
Dates: February 4 - 11