Traditional Festivals In And Around Niseko

Festivals are a window into Japan's cultural traditions, showcasing artwork, cuisine, dance, music, games and more.

Kutchan Potato Festival Tomo Ryu Photo Credit

Dancers from Kutchan Town's 1000 dancer finale. Photo by Tomo Ryu.

The Niseko area has many small towns and villages which hold traditional festivals and welcome visitors to experience and participate in them. These intimate local festivals have a theme and main event, surrounded by a celebration of eating, drinking, activities and entertainment throughout the day.

During the 1800s, settlers from the main islands of Japan started arriving in Hokkaido. They brought traditions and festivals with them, most of which date back thousands of years before recorded history.

All Year Round

The two largest winter festivals, Sapporo Snow Festival and Otaru City Light Path Festival (both in February), are popular for visitors to Niseko. The Sapporo Autumn Festival (September) is the largest food festival in Hokkaido with stalls from all over the prefecture.

There are many festivals that are worth exploring when staying in the Niseko area, such as Kutchan Town's Yukitopia (Snowtopia) Festival (February) or Lake Toya's Anime and Manga Festival (June). While they aren't as large as those in Sapporo or Otaru, they offer a level of intimacy that can't be found in the big city.

All Kinds of Themes

Shakotan Town has a summer Fire Festival (July) which finishes off with town volunteers parading through massive bonfires. Kyowa Town's Scarecrow Festival (August) features a scarecrow contest and horse-drawn cart races.

Festivals themes vary from town to town, celebrating seasons, harvests or cleansing of the spirit, each offers it own insight in local culture and community. Check our events calendar for a guide to all the local festivals and join in if you can - you will have a lot of fun.