The beauty of Hokkaido in the winter

Sapporo White Illumination

Experience the exquisite rich-white scenery of winter in Sapporo and at night be amazed as your surroundings transform into a world of magic with the vibrant colorful lights of Sapporo White Illumination.

This illumination is the first illumination event to have started in Japan, dating back to 1981. It hosts 520,000 light bulbs that transform Sapporo into a beautiful scene of vibrant colors. The illuminations at Odori Park center on Christmas and cosmic themes that sparkle as works of art in the night sky.

The trees of Ekimae-dori and Minami 1-jo dori are decorated with lights that transform the roadsides into scenes of exquisite beauty. During the Christmas season illumination times are extended until 12 midnight and forms the perfect location for couples wishing to create that special memory.

Venues: Odori Park (November 18 to December 25 2016), Ekimae dori (November 18 to February 12 2017), Minami 1-jo dori (November 18 2016 to March 14 2017)


The Sapporo Snow Festival

The Sapporo Snow Festival first started in 1950 when middle and high school students exhibited six snow sculptures. Since then the festival has grown into a large-scale event attracting over 2 million visitors from around the world.

Both small and large sculptures line Odori Park for a distance of around 1.5km, which are illuminated from the time the sun sets until 10pm at night. One location in the Odori Park known as 11-chome is the site for international participants to display their works: here artists from around the world get a chance to show off their talent. It is also possible to watch participants create their own sculptures.

At the Tsudome site, you can have some fun on a giant snow slide and play in the snow. At the Susukino site there is an ice sculpture event, illumination and ice bar that you can enjoy.

Venues: Odori Site, Susukino Site (February 6 to 12),
Tsudome Site (February 1 to 12, 2017)


Chitose and Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival

Chitose and Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival is located inside of Shikotsu-Toya National Park and is hosted at Lake Shikotsu hot springs which is approx. 40 minutes by car from Sapporo city.

Sculptures are made using the water from Lake Shikotsu, a lake that boasts some of the clearest water in Japan. Popular attractions with children include the ice slide, ice rink and horse riding around the venue. While the event is underway, guests can look forward to a firework display of around 300 fireworks which takes place from 18:30 on Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays.

If you’re looking for some traditional Japanese cultural entertainment, there’s also the Wadaiko drum performances to look forward to. You can also relax in the hot springs which don’t require staying overnight or savor the delights of the meals on offer.

Venue: Lake Shikotsu hot springs, Chitose city (January 27 to February 19 2017)


Hakodate Illuminationl

Hakodate Illumination is a special event that offers exotic city landscapes abundant with charm.

During this period areas such as Hakodate Station, Kaiko street and Motomachi (a region lined with historical buildings) are lit up in an illumination extravaganza.

However, that’s not all; there are also firework displays and a variety of other events to make for an experience like no other.

Venue: Suehiro-cho, Hakodate (December 1 2016 to February 28 2017)


Otaru Snow Story

Otaru Snow Story takes place in Otaru City and forms the stage for a variety of fascinating illuminations in Otaru Canal, Canal Plaza, JR Otaru station. From November 12 to January 31,

Otaru Canal is lit up with approx. 10,000 blue LED lights making for a truly magical experience. It is the perfect place to experience the charm of Hokkaido in the winter and is great for families or couples.

Venue: Otaru Canal, Canal Plaza and JR Otaru station (November 12 2016 to January 31 2017).


Otaru Snow Light Path

The Oaru Snow Light Path event first began in 1999 and enjoys more than 500,000 visitors.It takes place in the winter month of February for ten days which sees the snowy city decorated in lanterns and snow sculptures that transform the area in to a beautiful winter landscape.

This festival is timed to coincide with the Sapporo Snow Festival, giving guests the opportunity to view both festivals at the same time.

Venue: Main venue site Unga Kaijo (February 3 to February 12 2017).


Sounkyo Hyobaku Matsuri

Sounkyo is situated at the foot of Mt. Kurodake and boasts a hot spring area with exquisite scenery.

Sounkyo in the winter is a winter like no other with a waterfall that turns into an ice-fall, creating a spectacle of beauty that draws in visitors from around the world .

There are also ice-made buildings running along Ishikari River that are illuminated in seven different colors.

Venue: Kamikawa-cho Sounkyo, (January 25 to March 20).


The Akan Ice Festival

The Akan Ice Festival is a spectacular celebration of the winter season which is held on a frozen lake covered with 60-80 cm of thick ice.

Everyday during the festival period, fireworks are launched into the night sky and there is also a variety of mini-festivals to be enjoyed as well.

The Akan Ice Festival has gained popularity in recent years as one of Hokkaido’s major festivals.

Venue: Akanko Onsen (February 1 to March 12 2017).


Shiretoko Fantasy Event

Experience the spectacle of the aurora lights in a festival like no other!

Be amazed at the beauty and majesty of this natural phenomenon as the pitch black night sky is suddenly transformed into a magical canvass of dancing light.

For anyone looking for something unusual that is difficult to experience elsewhere this could be just the thing!

Venue: Shiretoko Utoro Onsen (February 5 to March 12 2017).


Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan

This lake is located in Daisetsu National Park and is frozen over in the winter from around the months of December to May.

On the lake can be found a village of igloos and there is even an open air-bath- also on the frozen lake- with mixed bathing during the day and separate male and female bathing in the evening.

As well as soaking in a warm bath while doing a spot of stargazing, you can also try your hand at a variety of different events.

Venue: Lake Shikaribetsu, Shikaoi (January 28 to March 20 2017).

Other winter exclusive events that you might like to check out include: The penguin walk in Asahiyama Zoo and the Drift ice observed in the southern region of Japan.
Additional events can be found here