Sapporo Snow Festival Overview
In 1950, six high school students made snow sculptures in Sapporo’s Odori Park. These simple roots in Hokkaido have expanded over the years to become one of Japan’s most popular winter events with over 2 million visitors attending every year. Today there are sculptures of all sizes by teams of artists from around the world displayed in three separate venues, Odori Park, Community Dome Tsudome, and Susukino Main Street, all of which are accessible by the Sapporo Subway. In addition, there are concerts and special events held throughout the entire city, and special souvenirs related to the festival are available during that time. Sapporo crowns an Ice Queen and holds contests for the most popular sculptures.
The 65th annual Sapporo Snow Festival will be held from Wednesday, February 5 through Tuesday, February 11, 2014. This year, 199 main sculptures will be on display. Be aware that this is the most crowded time of year in Sapporo, so make reservations for hotels, transportation, and other activities as early as possible. For more information: http://www.snowfes.com/english/
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Sapporo Snow Festival Locations and Venues
2014 Sapporo Snow Festival: Odori Park
The main venue of the Snow Festival, Odori Park is transformed into a sparkling crystal wonderland of snow and ice. The park, which runs east and west through town, is especially magical at night when lit up with glittering lights of all colors. The 113 sculptures range in size, but many tower above the spectators in an impressive show. Visitors of all ages can enjoy a wide variety of activities in addition to looking at snow sculptures, such as ice skating in an outdoor rink or borrowing free skis and poles for a test run around a special course. Odori Park is the site of the International Snow Sculpture Contest. There is an international food corner as well as the main food court, which is open from 10 am to 8 pm.
Odori Park is at the Odori Subway Station, which is the Tozai Line #9 stop, Namboku Line #7 stop, or the Toho Line #8 stop.
2014 Sapporo Snow Festival: Tsudome
The Tsudome Community Dome is set up as an interactive center where visitors can learn about Hokkaido, its products, and experience some fun winter activities. There are indoor and outdoor sections, so this is a good place to go in inclement weather. Outside there are 26 snow sculptures and a ramp for snow sliding and rafting. Indoors there is a rest area and food court.
There are booths selling Hokkaido souvenirs and a stage for entertainment during the festival. Kids will enjoy an area with rides such as miniature bullet trains and a helicopter. There is also an indoor ice rink. The Tsudome venue is an excellent choice for families. It is about an 8 minute walk from the Sakaemachi Station, which is #1 on the Toho Subway line.
2014 Sapporo Snow Festival: Susukino Main Street
There are 60 snow sculptures on display on Ekimae-dori, which is the main street in front of the station of Susukino, which is not far from the Odori Park venue. There is an ice sculpture contest where visitors can vote for their favorites, and they can also see the Ice Queen.
This is the smallest venue of the 2014 Sapporo Snow Festival, but worth a visit if you have the time.
Take the Namboku Subway Line to stop #8, Susukino.