My favorite time of year in Sapporo! Three cheers for the Sapporo Snow Festival of 2016! For those unfamiliar with this once-a-year festival, you need to make time to check it out. Sapporo has the most snowfall of any other major city (over 1 million pop) in the world, and as they say in Japan – もったいない(Mottainai)！That is, don’t waste it.
Most snow gets trucked off nightly to be melted or dumped somewhere not blocking the roads – or if you go to bed early, it may seem almost magical how fast snow vanishes. But the real magic comes with the snow festival, when the mounds of snowfall are transformed into some really amazing works of art. The festival sports not only a vast number of snow/ice sculptures, numbering over 250, but also a few daunting sculptures of massive size.
In 2015, to celebrate the not-yet-arrived, but coming Star Wars film, a massive multistory sculpture of Darth Vader with stormtroopers was the highlight for me. Amongst the smaller sculptures are always a mix of animated characters, famous figures, and original items. Since Frozen is a pretty appropriate theme for a snow festival, Olaf could be found several times in the mix in 2015.
The festival primarily centers in the Odori Park area, which is the “be-sure-not-to-miss” portion of the festival. The experience is amazing whether you go during the day or at night – or even better, both. The daytime version lets you see the level of detail on some of the best sculptures, while the night gives a beautiful array of colors added for a very unique experience, that often brings sculptures to life.
Either way, you won’t be disappointed, but be sure to dress warm, especially for the night version.
The only downside to the event can be the crowds, which are there for most of the event, so for families with kids, it may be worth visiting the Tsu Dome location. This location, which is second largest of the sites, has additional attractions, and rest areas that are more conducive to children. This includes huge snow slides and snow rafting, and what kid (or adult) doesn’t love that? The crowds will also be generally lighter, and though the sculptures may not be equal in grandeur to Odori's, for moms and dads, the lower stress level may make it easier to enjoy them.
The last area is the Susukino area. This area also has some amazing sculptures, but is much smaller in size, and even has an Ice Bar. There is even a section of sculptures you can touch, sit, or even ‘ride’ and take some memorable pictures. You can also check out some amateur attempts at ice sculpting in their sculpture contest.
This is no small event either, drawing around 2 million people over the course of the week long event, with several thousand foreigners making a trip to Sapporo, often specifically to visit the snow festival. If you are going to be in Sapporo between February 5th and 11th this year (2016), it is something you can’t miss. Even if you come after the 11th, you can check out the Tsu Dome location which continues an extra week, lasting until the 18th.
Of course, regardless of which location you make your way to, your WifiBuddy will make access to the internet fast, easy, and affordable, allowing you to compare sculptures to previous years and make sure you aren’t missing any events happening at various locations, all while checking out the amazing works of art!