Sapporo is one of the snowiest cities in the world. It has five long wintry months and tonnes of snow. And, no surprise, Sapporo snow festival is the largest annual winter festival in Japan. The Sapporo Snow festival is usually held in the first week of February. It is week-long, and full of stunning snow and ice sculptures, music, good food and lots of entertainment. Every year, millions of visitors celebrate the wonder of snow by participating at this unique event. This year, the Sapporo Snow Festival will be celebrating its 70th anniversary. In this article, I am going to share information on what to expect, and how to have a ball at the Sapporo snow festival.
Sapporo Snow Festival Sites:
Every year the Sapporo Snow festival is held at three different sites. And of course, all these three venues offer different experiences to the visitors. The Susukino and Odori site will be open from February 4th – February 11th 2019. Tsudome Site will remain open from January 31st to February 11th 2019.
Susukino never sleeps. It is here, where the wildest of parties in Sapporo happen. At the Susukino site, you can see a number of artistic ice sculptures lined up through out an entire street of 南4西4 (Minami 4 Jonishi 4 Chome). The level of intricacy achieved in each one of these hand carved figures is a marvel. Moreover, an International Ice Sculpture contest is also organised at the Susukino site.
You can grab a drink at the onsite Ice bar or, enjoy a hot bowl of Ramen at one of the many Ramen shops in the Susukino area. Ramen Sora is my favourite. There are plenty of Karaoke bars with private rooms such as Jankara in this location. For desserts, try my personal favourite Milkmura.
Directions to Susukino site:
Odori is where the main snow festival event is held. The entire Odori Park gets decorated with snow sculptures in all sizes. Along with sound and light shows, a number of music performances from International and local groups are also held here. You can get into Ice Skating rinks, or watch snow boarding, free style skiing displays. You will find plenty of food and drinks stalls as well.
What to eat?
When the temperature is negative, nothing warms up better than a bowl of steaming hot Ramen. There are a number of other foods stalls, selling items such as boiled sweet corns, hot dogs, curries and barbecued seafood. You can warm your insides by with hot wine, sake or a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. To beat the freezing cold by eating something cold, try some Hokkaido soft serve ice creams.
Directions to Odori Park:
3.Tsudome (Sapporo Community Dome):
Tsudome site is where the real snow adventure happens. It is in Higashi ward of Sapporo, which is slightly out of the city centre. I highly recommend going to this site if you have kids. Here, you can try snow tubing, sledding and snow rafting. You can also get into a bumper ball, play snow golf, or just have a game of snowball with your family and friends. The indoor venue has plenty of options for refreshments. You can also enjoy ferries wheel and different stage events for kids. However, I suggest checking the event schedule ahead. This site remains open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Directions to Tsudome Site:
Regular shuttle buses from Odori West 3 Chome to Tsudome will be available from January 31st to February 11th. Or, you can catch a shuttle bus from Sakaemachi Subway station on Toho line (blue line).
What to expect at the Sapporo Snow Festival?
In addition to an amazing experience, you should be ready to wait in long queue, especially in evenings. The number of visitors coming for the annual Sapporo Snow festival is increasing by the year. Hence, traffic congestions at the sites are unavoidable. It is best to use public transport to visit the sites.
Winter in Japan brings the highly contagious Influenza virus outbreak. And, winter along with a crowded place increases your chances of catching flu. I recommend wearing a mask and using alcohol hand sanitizer. If you are travelling with kids, all the more reasons to be careful as they are more susceptible to catch an infection. See this link for any questions you might have on flu in Japan.
What to wear for the Sapporo Snow Festival?
For Sapporo’s winter, dressing in layers works best. Wear thin and warm layers instead of a couple of thick layers. For winter in February, I suggest wearing at least 3 layers of easily removable clothing inside with a good quality coat or a jacket outside. In addition to that, get thick winter socks and a pair of warm insulated boots. Don’t forget your hat and gloves. Keep in mind; the temperatures inside the building in Sapporo are usually much warmer than the outside
I have had my share of slipping on Icy roads during my first snow festival. Therefore, get anti slip soles for your shoes or removable spikes (can’t be worn indoors) to avoid slipping and getting hurt. Apart from dressing up, you can also get heat packs known as Kairo from any convenience stores, drug stores or supermarkets. There are many types of Kairo available, including stick on body type. You can keep these inside your pocket, socks or gloves, and keep yourself warm for long.
I hope the above information comes in handy for your trip to the Sapporo Snow Festival 2019. For any questions or comments please write below. As always thank you for reading