Sapporo Snow Festival History:
The origins of the Sapporo Snow Festival date back to 1950, when a half-dozen local high school students got together and built a half-dozen snow statues in Odori Park. This sort of activity is historically commonplace in the winter on the island of Hokkaido because of its typically heavy snowfalls. A few years later, in 1955, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, viewing participation as a training exercise, came from a nearby base and built sculptures. Their participation continues to this day. However, in 1972, Sapporo hosted the Winter Olympics—its location as Japan’s northernmost island blesses its landscape with lots of snow and skiing opportunities. The Olympic games introduced Sapporo’s Snow Festival to the rest of the world. The festival now averages about 2 million visitors per year, most of them Japanese; a tiny 3 percent visits from the rest of the world, including Asia.
Sapporo Snow Festival 2017 - Why Go?
The staging of nearly 400 spectacular ice and snow sculptures is what draws visitors to the 12-block stretch of Odori Park , home to much of the action and the majority of sculpture activity. During the day, stroll and watch the artists at work, carving up everything from life-size renderings of animals and historical monuments, temples and buildings (Taj Mahal), to scenes of Japanese life, manga characters, internationally recognizable cartoon characters, religious icons (life-sized Ganesha, anyone?) and mazes you can walk through.
The participants who create these works of art come from Japan and around the world. At night, contemporary Japanese artists take the stage at Odori against the backdrop of an illuminated, magical landscape.
Throughout the streets and at all three sites, you won’t go hungry. You’ll find plenty of native eats to sample, from noodle dishes and ramen to fresh seafood such as oysters grilled and served on the half shell and soup curry, along with veggies such as potatoes and corn. If you are pining for a switch, there’s even an international food court at your disposal. Burn it all off just by walking in the cold, donning ice skates and doing a few laps at the rink or if you want something more adventurous, you can bushwalk on skis on a special course set up in the park.
- Remember to dress in layers and pack all essential cold weather gear
- Cast your vote in the ice sculpture competition at Susukino. The process is open to the public
- Stay through dark to see the ice sculptures illuminated. In Odori, they are lit until midnight and until 10 p.m. at Susukino.
- Take in the view from above. Climb to the observation deck of the TV Tower at the eastern end of Odori Park, nearly 300 feet above the action.
- Slurp down a hot bowl of ramen at any given moment. It's an authentic way to cut the winter chill.
For further information, please visit the official website at www.snowfes.com