Many of us rustle up a snowman in winter. So who would have thought that a couple of kids building snowmen in Odori Park in 1950 would herald the beginning of the annual Sapporo Snow Festival? It now attracts over two million people who come to marvel at the ginormous snow sculptures of world-famous landmarks and cartoon characters in Sapporo Japan.
For one week, Sapporo city turns into something of a winter wonderland. The 63rd Sapporo Snow Festival will be held from 5-11 February 2013 so for cheap accommodation book Sapporo hostels and explore this magical winter event.
Wondering how to dress for the Sapporo weather? Wrap up warm, silly!
Sapporo Festival Sites
The action takes place around Odori Park, the grounds surrounding the Community Dome called Tsudome and also along the main street of Susukino. This year there will be a total of 222 ice and snow sculptures on display. To supply the city, 6,500 five-tonne trucks of snow is transported to Sapporo between 7-23 January in preparation for the Sapporo festival.
Odori Festival Site
This is the main festival site and stretches through the centre of downtown Sapporo. There are plenty of ice and snow sculptures to see around here as well as snow stages hosting entertainment from bands, dancers and other performers. This year attractions will include a ‘snow aquarium’ of sea creature sculptures, the Taj Mahal, Tsuruga Castle (from the Fukushima Prefecture) and a Sorcerer Mickey sculpture from Disney.
Watch professional snowboarders and skiers at the HTB Park Air Square within the Odori site. If you want to join in, get out on the ice-skating rink at nearby J:COM square.
From the 6-12 February visitors can sample local Hokkaido food at the Hokkaido Winter Food Park open 10am-10pm. Try Jingisukan (mutton BBQ), Unimeshi (sea urchin with boiled rice), Ishikari Nabe (salmon and vegetable hot-pot) and Ramen noodles.
This year, 15 teams of keen snow-sculptors from all over the world will compete in the 39th International Snow Statue Contest.
Here visitors can throw themselves down one of the many snow slides. Some are as high as 12 metres and visitors sit in rubber tubes. Another thing to try is a snow raft which is pulled along by a snowmobile, or take a calming break and look at snow crystals through a loupe.
Use public transport or the shuttle bus to get to the site.
If during your trip to Japan you fancied skiing Sapporo has a number of festival facilities including bushwalking – a popular activity in Hokkaido – and also the chance to equip yourself with some bamboo skis.
At Ekimae-dori between South 4 and South 7, a number of ice sculptures featuring real crabs, squid and salmon will be on display. Check out the ice sculpture contest and have your photo taken with the Ice Queen.
Odori Site: Illuminations end at 10pm daily
Tsudome Site: 9am-5pm daily
Susukino Site: Illuminations end at midnight, on Sunday illuminations end at 10pm
Cheap place to stay in Sapporo?
The Time Peace Apartment is one of our top-rated hostels. The hostel is a remodelled Japanese house and has the warm and homely atmosphere of a guesthouse. Beautifully decorated with traditional furnishings, the dorms offer sturdy wooden bunks complete with privacy curtains. Breakfast, linen, towels, toiletries and internet access is included in the price. They offer mixed or female dorms sleeping between 2-8 people and guests have their own personal lockers. There is a cosy lounge and bar and the hostel offer bicycle hire. Dorms from €25.85 per person per night.
Make your own Giant Ice Sculpture…
Want to try your hand at building your own ice sculpture? Well if you have a bulldozer at your disposal check out this cool step-by-step guide to building your own ice sculpture.
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