Matsuri Days (5): Sapporo Snow Festival

The Sapporo Snow Festival Heats Up Winter in Hokkaidō (Video)

Culture Travel

See what happened at the sixty-fifth Sapporo Snow Festival, held in 2014, with our video introduction.

Record Number of Visitors Flock to the 2014 Snow Festival

The annual Sapporo Snow Festival—a celebration of snow and ice—was held for the 65th time in 2014. The event can be traced back to 1950 when some local junior high and high school students created six snow sculptures at a snow disposal yard in Sapporo’s Ōdōri Park.

Every year during the festival the park is transformed into a fantasy world. Figures sculpted from pure white snow and transparent ice are displayed along the roughly 1.5-kilometer length of the park, which in 2014 included five giant snow sculptures and around 198 other creations of snow or ice.

The 2014 event saw a new attendance record for the festival being set, with around 2.42 million people—roughly 35,000 more than in the previous year—visiting during the week-long event held on February 5–11. At the forty-first International Snow Sculpture Contest, held during the festival, nine overseas teams from eight different countries competed to create the most impressive snow sculpture.

Another highlight of the annual festival is the Hokkaidō Winter Food Park, where food from around the prefecture is available. Visitors line up to sample such local fare as grilled squid and Monbetsu crab prepared by popular Hokkaidō restaurants.

At night, the 2014 festival area was lit up to create an illuminated make-believe world utterly different from how the park looked during the day. A spectacular nighttime “projection mapping” show was held simultaneously at three venues, with colorful video images projected onto some of the large snow sculptures. The spectator-thrilling images included a fantastic phoenix rising into the air, a thoroughbred galloping majestically, and 3D images of an Audi Quattro that changed shape and color as it drove along.

(Photographs and reporting permission courtesy of the Sapporo Snow Festival Executive Committee.)

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