Hokkaido's 2019 Winter Festivals
Come for the snow, stay for the February festival fun.
Hokkaido comes to life in February, with a line-up of four action packed festivals happening in the next month.
Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival
Lake Shikotsu boasts some of the clearest waters in all of Japan. So, what better reason to visit than during their annual ice festival when that water is used to create spectacular ice sculptures.
Equally awe-inspiring but less busy than the Sapporo Snow Festival, the festival also features water illuminations, an ice-slide and fireworks.
Venue: Lake Shikotsu Waterfront
Dates: 25 January – 17 February 2019
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Sapporo Snow Festival
For good reason, the annual Sapporo Snow Festival is the Hokkaido capital's most famous tourist drawcard.
Spread across three separate inner-city locations, the citizens of Sapporo, as well as invitees from around the world, display enormous and intricate ice and snow sculptures to the thousands of people who attend from around Japan and the rest of the world. This is a must-do in February, particularly this year as the festival celebrates its 70th anniversary.
Venue: Sapporo - Odori Park, Tsudome and Susukino Area
Dates: 31 January – 11 February 2019
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Otaru Snow Light Path
The Otaru Snow Light Path attracts visitors looking to relax and reflect at this distinctly Japanese festival. During the festival, the already beautiful Otaru Canal plays host to countless candles in glass floats, gently drifting down the river.
Despite the event's growing popularity, the organisers are committed to ensuring that it remains a spiritual event, rather than a commercially oriented festival. Ice sculptures, light displays and monuments add to the atmosphere at this peaceful and romantic event.
Dates: 8 – 17 February 2019
Yukitopia Snow Festival
Niseko’s neighbouring town of Kutchan will hold the annual Yukitopia or “Snowtopia” Festival in February this year. The colourful two-day event, held at the Asahigaoka Ski Hill, features a range of family-friendly activities with free rides, games, contests, entertainment, food stalls and more.
A highlight is the Glide Across the Water! event, where daring competitors attempt to glide across a pool of icy cold water on makeshift skis and snowboards.
Venue: Asahigaoka Ski Hill, Kutchan Town
Dates: 16 - 17 February 2019