Winter festivals in Hokkaido are nothing short of spectacular, with world-famous events such as the Sapporo Snow Festival and Sounkyo Ice Festival, alongside more local and quaint festivals such as at Otaru and Lake Shikotsu.
Below is a list of the most popular winter festivals, but there are many more spread out across Hokkaido. Let us know which winter festivals interest you the most, and we'll include them in your private custom-made tour.
Sapporo Snow Festival
Sapporo's Yuki Matsuri is a world-class event and one of the largest winter festivals in Japan. Massive snow-statues & building replicas line Odori Park, while intricate ice-sculptures adorn Susukino as the city becomes a winter wonderland. There are three main sites in the city, and many other installations and snow-themed parks in the outskirts.
Annually in early February
Otaru Snow Festival
Stroll along Otaru's romantic canal and historic side-streets while snapping pictures of adorable snow statues and staying warm with hot mugs of tea, coffee and cocoa. Otaru's Snow Festival offers a more relaxed and much less crowded alternative to Sapporo's.
Annually in mid-February
Shikotsuko Ice Festival
Only 40 minutes from Sapporo, Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival is great for the entire family: Ice sculptures, ice slides, horse riding, hot springs and fireworks will keep everyone entertained.
Annually from late January to mid February
Asahikawa Winter Festival
The winter festival in Asahikawa is similar to Sapporo's snow festival. Although smaller in scope, the relative lack of crowds and easy access to Daisetsuzan National Park make this festival a good choice when heading north.
Annually in early February
Hakodate's historic streets and Goryokaku Fort are illuminated nightly as this southwestern city turns into a winter wonderland. The Hakodate Illumination is one of the prettiest times to see Hakodate, the oldest city in Hokkaido.
Annually from late November to late February
Lake Akan Ice Festival
Try your hand at building an igloo, ice-cutting or making a snowman at the Lake Akan Ice Festival. Other activities include ice-fishing, snowmobiling, playing family games and soaking in the local hot springs. There are daily Ainu ceremonies and fireworks displays as well.
Annually from early February to early March
Sapporo's Christmas Market & Illumination
Come December, the holiday season is heartily welcomed by Sapporo's residents as they flock downtown to vist the Munich Christmas Market, a German-themed event lining Odori Park where hundreds of vendors compete with local and international cuisine. Simultaneously, Sapporo's downtown area is lit by countless lights during the Illumination Festival.
Annually from late November to late December