We're right into the thick of the snow season, and there are plenty of fantastic winter festivals and events happening in and around Niseko. Here are four that you shouldn't miss.

Sapporo Snow Festival

The internationally renowned Sapporo Snow Festival is the biggest fixture on the list of Japanese winter events. The event, which has been running since 1950, consistently attracts over 2 million visitors a year, many coming from all over the world to see the ice sculptures lining Odori Park.

Visitors can also head to the Susukino venue, which features an ice sculpture contest and an ice bar, or the Tsudome Community Dome where there is a giant ice slide (among other things)!

The festival is on from February 5–11.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

Prepare to be completely mesmerized by the site of the Otaru Canal lit up by dozens of floating candles, one of the many beautifully lit attractions that make up the Otaru Snow Light Path Festival.

Event organizers ask that visitors “feel easy…think about things leisurely in the glow of the candlelight, and have time to reflect on themselves, forgetting a little of their bothersome daily life in a rapidly changing society.”

In addition to the main attractions, locals put lanterns on display outside shop windows and homes, adding to the festive, spiritual atmosphere.

The event runs from February 6–15.


Japanese Festival WAZA

For those wanting something a little closer to home, try the Japanese Festival WAZA, which will be on at the Niseko Alpen Hotel (below the Ace Quad Life #2) on February 11. A series of performances and events will showcase different aspects of traditional Japanese culture, including kirigami (paper cut-out), sadou (Japanese tea ceremony) and kimono dressing.

Kutchan Yukitopia Festival

Kutchan’s very own snow festival has been scheduled for February 21 & 21, and while it won’t be as big or dramatic as the Sapporo equivalent, it’s a fantastic time to experience the lovely Japanese town that sits on Niseko’s doorstep. Sample a local snack at one of the many food stalls, try your luck in the snowman building contest, or for the really brave, enter the “Glide Across the Water” competition, where competitors attempt to ski or snowboard across a pond filled with icy water! The festival will be on at the Asahigaoka Ski Hill.

For information on travelling to any of the events listed above, contact [email protected].

Rupert Orchard

Posted on 04 February, 2015 by Rupert Orchard in Niseko Life, Winter.