Japan's beautiful winter festivals - a tale of ice, snow and colour
Japan winter lights

Japan's beautiful winter festivals - a tale of ice, snow and colour

By PantheraNegra | Travel Japan | 21 Feb 2020

Japan celebrates winter

Snow scene in Japan

It is very difficult not to be charmed by Japan and its people when visiting. This is a country of beautiful places, incredible history, amazing food, and an intriguing uniqueness that distinguishes it from anywhere else in the world. This is the first of a few short blogs with photos from my travels showcasing some of the best of Japan. Having recently returned from a 2 week adventure exploring the Japanese winter festivals in the north of the country, this seemed like as good a place as any to begin our story.

Japan loves to celebrate the cold, snowy winter months with enchanting festivals full of ice and snow sculptures, colourful displays, candles, lanterns and amazing snowy scenes. Our first stop off was the famous Sapporo snow festival in Hokkaido, held annually for about seven days usually at the beginning of February in Sapporo. There are three main sites where this festival takes place and you get to see some incredible artistry at work.

Susukino Ice World

ice world

A place where you can find impressive ice sculptures, full of intricate details, ice bars to get a hot drink or cold spirit, and colourful lights when the sun sets. These are some examples of the amazing ice sculptures that were on display there this year:

boat ice sculpture

fantasy ice sculpture

And the first prize winner in the ice sculpting competition this year:

first prize ice sculpture

Pretty amazing, eh!?

Odori Park - the main event

This was the largest venue and where most of the action was. Huge snow sculptures, loads of tasty food stalls, plus some superb musical performances and light shows using the snow sculptures as the stage. We saw amazing snow sculptures during the day...

snow bear

snow horse rider sculpture

snow rugby man

...which were then lit up at night, some even had colourful shows portrayed onto them. Seriously fun and hypnotising!

snow palace sculture

snow house

snow colours

This is just a taster, there was so much more to see and do, including ice skating and watching snow boarders perform. I recommend a visit if you ever get the opportunity to go and this is your thing!

Next up, still in Hokkaido, and a reasonable bus journey from Sapporo ( or you could do it as part of a tour)...

Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival

Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival

Now this place was also pretty spectacular. Each winter they take water from the nearby lake to create these immense ice structures and buildings which they then illuminate with different colours. This event usually runs from the end of January through to the middle of February. It's a very cold place to be, but you don't really feel it as you walk around the place in awe of what they have created. A couple of hours here is sufficient, but well worth the trip to get there. 

It is hard to do justice to some of what was created out of ice, but hopefully the photos below give you an indication of how stunning this place was.

ice crystals

ice display

...an ice chandelier...

ice chandelier

...a spooky ice grotto...

ice grotto

... colour and ice...

colour and ice


The tunnel of fairy lights shown at the top of this post was also on this site. It was just a lovely, colourful (but cold!) place to spend a couple of hours.

I hope you've enjoyed the photos. Watch out for another post soon with some more festivals and winter events we visited in Japan.

Thank you for reading and be lucky :)

be lucky


Living learning helping improving. Crypto, travel, environment, social justice.

Travel Japan
Travel Japan

Japan is a wonderful and charming country and a fantastic place to spend time exploring and travelling. This blog will give you some insight into it including some of the amazing places to visit and sights to see.

Send a $0.01 microtip in crypto to the author, and earn yourself as you read!

20% to author / 80% to me.
We pay the tips from our rewards pool.