Sapporo Snow Festival 2024: Yuki Matsuri Travel Guide

Sapporo Snow Festival

Welcome to the Sapporo Snow Festival, called Sapporo Yuki Matsuri in Japanese. Imagine yourself strolling through a winter wonderland. Snow blankets the ground, painting the city a shining white, while the scent of delicious food fills the air.

Trees are decked with twinkling lights, and statues crafted of ice and snow tower over the mingling crowds. At night, the sculptures are illuminated by entrancing, moving colored lights that give the park an enchanted atmosphere.

This unique snow festival is held for one week each February in Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island.

What wonders does the Snow Festival have to offer? Should you make it a part of your next Japan adventure? Read on to learn about the Festival’s history, locations, and things to do.

History and facts

The first Sapporo Snow Festival was held in 1950. High school students built 6 snow statues in Odori Park. Unexpectedly, the creations attracted fifty thousand visitors.

By 1955, the Self Defense Force was enlisted to build a massive snow sculpture. In 1959, 2,500 people participated in the snow sculpting process. It was in that year that the Snow Festival garnered national media attention for the first time.

When Sapporo hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1972, the Snow Festival’s fame reached international proportions.

Each year, the Snow Festival attracts more than two million visitors, both from Japan and from around the world. It is one of the nation’s premier winter festivals, as well as one of its foremost admission-free events.

Below, you’ll find a guide to each of the Festival’s 3 locations, the activities offered at each, and how to get there.

Sapporo Snow Festival dates

The Sapporo Snow Festival takes place in the first week of February. In 2024, the 74th edition will take place from February 4-11.

Sapporo Snow Festival venues

The Snow Festival usually takes place at not one but 3 different locations in and around Sapporo.

Odori Site

The Odori Site, Sapporo’s Odori Park, is the historic home of the Snow Festival. The one and a half kilometer park remains the primary venue.

It is the staging ground for the Festival’s largest statues. Some of these span 25 meters and rise 15 meters in the air.

In addition to a dozen or more large sculptures, the park is littered with hundreds of smaller snow statues. The statues are illuminated until 10 pm each day.

The spectacular projection mapping shows are also not to be missed. Food and souvenir stalls are located street side, and an ice skating rink can be found in front of Sapporo Tower.

Odori site, Sapporo Snow Festival venue

If you’d like to view the park from above, this can be done from the Sapporo TV Tower at the eastern end. The tower is open from 9 am until 9:50 pm. Admission to the observation deck costs ¥1000 for a single visit or ¥1500 for a day and night pass.

Tsubame Site

Tsubame, or the Tsudome Site (Community Site), is a family-friendly playground. As well as additional snow sculpture, the outdoor section boasts:

  • 3 unique snow slides
  • A snow rafting slope
  • A snow maze
  • A snowman building area

Inside the dome, you’ll find food stands and an event stage. The Tsudome Site typically opens a few days prior to the official start of the Festival. It’s open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.

Snow slopes at Tsubame site during the Sapporo Snow Festival

Susukino Site

The Susukino Site is located in the city’s entertainment district. About one hundred ice sculptures are exhibited, some of which have fish frozen inside! They are illuminated until 11 pm daily.

Susukino also hosts the highly anticipated ice sculpture contest, where you can watch the artists craft the pieces in real time! The on-site Ice Bar is also a great place to grab a hot drink.

Ice sculptures at Susukino site

Venues map

How to get to Sapporo Snow Festival

To reach Sapporo from Tokyo, take the JR Tohoku / Hokkaido Shinkansen to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station. Then, transfer to the Hokuto limited express to Sapporo.

The entire trip takes about 7 and a half hours and is covered under the Japan Rail Pass. Reserved seating may be required on some trains.

  • Odori Park is a 10-minute walk from the JR Sapporo Station.
  • Susukino is located one subway stop to the south of Sapporo Station (on the Namboku line).
  • The Tsudome Site is located outside the city center. It can be reached using shuttle buses, which depart from the Odori Site and from Sapporo Station every five to 10 minutes.
  • The Tsudome is also a 15-minute walk from Sakaemachi Station. This station can be reached by taking the Toho Subway Line from Sapporo Station.

Things to do

There is always plenty to do at the Sapporo Snow Festival. Here are our top 5 suggestions on what to do:

  1. View and photograph the snow and ice statues by day.
  2. Sample delicious Japanese cuisine at numerous food stalls.
  3. View live concerts and events.
  4. Play on the slides and snow slopes of the Tsudome Site.
  5. Enjoy the nighttime illumination of the statues, up close or from the observation deck of the Sapporo TV Tower.

The Sapporo Snow Festival is a must-see on any traveler’s bucket list. Start planning your trip today!

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