The Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo Yuki Matsuri) is held during one week every February in Hokkaido’s capital Sapporo. It is one of Japan’s most popular winter events. The Sapporo Snow Festival was started in 1950, when high school students built a few snow statues in Odori Park. It has since developed into a large, commercialized event, featuring spectacular snow and ice sculptures and attracting more than two million visitors from Japan and across the world.
The Snow Festival is staged on three sites: the Odori Site, Susukino Site and Tsu Dome Site. The main site is the Odori Site in Sapporo’s centrally located 1.5 kilometer long Odori Park. The festival’s famous large snow sculptures, some measuring more than 25 meters wide and 15 meters high, are exhibited there. They are lit up daily until 22:00. Besides about a dozen large snow sculptures, the Odori Site exhibits more than one hundred smaller snow statues and hosts several concerts and events, many of which use the sculptures as their stage.
A good view over the Odori Site can be enjoyed from the Sapporo TV Tower at the eastern end of Odori Park. The tower has extended hours during the festival. The Susukino Site, located in and named after Sapporo’s largest entertainment district, exhibits about one hundred ice sculptures. Susukino is located only one subway stop south of Odori Park. The ice sculptures are lit up daily until 23:00.
The less centrally located Tsu Dome Site is a family oriented site with three types of snow slides, snow rafting and more snow sculptures. Inside the dome, there are many food stands and a stage for events. The Tsu Dome Site is open daily from 9:00 to 17:00. The Tsu Dome Site opens a few days before the full start of the festival, on February 1, 2018.