One of the common questions we get asked at NisekoML and certainly one that come up more than once in our ” info beers ” session is around the Sapporro snow festival.
NisekoML did contemplate running a snow festival tour but it all honesty with just a bit of homework you can easily manage this trip yourself.
The 72nd Snow festival is due to run from Saturday the 5th to Saturday the 12th of Feb 2022
Given that Covid numbers continue to be stable in Japan and there are even rumours of the a resumption of the Go-To campaign Nisekoml is confident that there will be still be lots to see and do for the 2022 snow festival.
In short, a trip up to Sapporo in feb 2022 would still be a very good idea and is a great family friendly Japanese cultural event.
The Sapporo snow festival first started in 1950 , when local middle and high school students created six snow sculptures in Odori Park. By 1959 over 15,000 participants were involved in construction of ice and snow sculptures and it started to draw hundreds of thousands of guests. By 2019 over 2 million tourists walked the main strip of city and enjoyed the festival.
Early February each year the entire main street from Odori park to Susukino are transformed by 30 foot ice and snow sculptures that literally now takes an army ( Japanese self defense force ) to prepare and model. But it’s not just the sculptures you can enjoy traditional street food and music, watch snowboarding demonstrations and do some great shopping.
Best time to see the Snow festival ?
NisekoML recommends you start your experience in the afternoon and go through into the evening so you can see the transition from day to night take affect and witness the amazing light shows.
Remember to dress really warm, on a cold night in Sapporro it’s almost impossible to have too many clothes ( particularly for kids ) take your clothes, down jackets, belaclavas and thick gloves. If you have exposed skin you will feel it !
It’s also advisable to try and see the festival earlier in it’s timeline as a warm day can cuase some snow to melt so if you can aim for just after the the 5th Feb rather than the final weekend.
To enjoy the Snow Festival you need to get a flight to New Chitose Airport ( Sapporo ). If you are flying from Okinawa the only current airline offering direct flights is Peach.
From the New Chitose Airport take the escalators downstairs and there is an express strain that goes to Sapporro Station very frequently. Once you get off at Sapporo station you need to change to the Namboku Subway Line and get off at the Odori station. ( approx. one stop ). If you don’t have kids or luggage you can also walk directly up through a massive underground shopping mall. Just head up the Subway station and keep walking !
Entry to festival site is free and to get their from Sapporro station take the subway 2 stops up to Odori station and then walk you way up to Susukio. Directions are well marked and easy to follow during the festival times. If you having trouble finding it just look for or ask for directions to the Sapporo clock tower.
You can also get a ticket to get an elevator right to the top of the clock tower and that is a recomended thing to do from NisekoMl during the festival or any other visit to Sapporo.
Where to stay ?
The best place to stay is to find a hotel just near Odori park or the Sapporo clock tower.
Another good option if you are more inclined to really party to get a hotel near the Susukino subway station. Susukino is the ” party ” district of Hokkaido and home to about 3,000 bars so it makes for one hell of a pub crawl.
If you are on a budget you may wish to consider booking a hotel just out of the main drag and getting a train into the action. Prior to covid prices were getting very high for inner city hotels over the festival time.
Whilst the festival is amazing 2 nights would be enough to see it all and if you have more time to spare we would recommend taking on a side trip to Niseko for a few nights as well.
Need more info ?
For more information there is a great official English website here