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Can't Make It to the Sapporo Snow Festival 2024? Check Out These Other Winter Festivals in Japan!

sapporo snow festival hokkaido
Experience a winter wonderland in Japan like never before!

Japan, a vibrant festival hub, is a destination that blooms with festivals throughout each season. In the summer, it dazzles with dance festivals and breathtaking firework displays, while winter brings with it a spectacular array of snow festivals. A plethora of these wintry celebrations unfold across the country, predominantly in the snowy realms of the northern Tohoku and Hokkaido regions, where enchanting snow festivals captivate visitors from around the globe. While many flock to Japan to ski on its renowned powder snow, these extraordinary winter festivals are also not to be missed. Here are ten of the most mesmerizing winter snow festivals in Japan!

Table of Contents:

Sapporo Snow Festival

sapporo snow festival hokkaido
Watch as intricate sculptures are lit up at night during the Sapporo Snow Festival

Dive into a captivating winter experience at the illustrious Sapporo Snow Festival. Located in the heart of Sapporo City, the event metamorphoses the urban space into an ethereal snowscape. Massive blocks of ice are meticulously carved into breathtaking sculptures, depicting a myriad of themes ranging from iconic global landmarks to vibrant anime characters. This high-spirited festival, celebrated in early February, is an epic confluence of art, culture, and the frosty charm of winter, drawing global attention to Ōdori Park and its surroundings.

When is Sapporo Snow Festival 2024?
4-11 February 2024 at the three main sites: Odori Park, Tsudome, and Susukino.
Get more info about Sapporo Snow Festival 2024 with our guide on how to Experience the Magic of Winter at Sapporo Snow Festival 2024! 

Tsunan Snow Festival

Immerse yourself in the enchantment of the Tsunan Snow Festival in Niigata Prefecture. Witness the awe-inspiring sight of over a thousand lanterns, elegantly adorning the night sky, creating a spectacle reminiscent of celestial celebrations. Paired with the grandeur of splendid fireworks and a plethora of exhilarating activities such as snowboard battles and live music, this festival embodies the vibrant spirit of the community amidst the chilly embrace of winter.

When is Tsunan Snow Festival 2024?

Zao Snow Monster Festival

Traverse to Zao, Yamagata Prefecture, where the mountains come alive with “snow monsters” or Juhyo, an extraordinary natural phenomenon. This festival, often referred to as the Zao Onsen Snow Monster Festival, invites you on a mystical journey through ropeways, illuminating the spectacular snow creatures under the night sky, further enhanced by a flourish of vibrant winter fireworks and captivating projection displays.

When is Zao Snow Monster Festival 2024?
Mid-February to early March is optimal for witnessing the slopes in their icy splendor.

Aizu Erosoku Matsuri (Aizu Painted Candle Festival)

candles lit up at the aizu painted candle festival 2024
The snowy landscape of Aizu-Wakamatsu City is lit up by candlelight during the Aizu Painted Candle Festival

In the snowy vistas of Fukushima's Aizu region, the Aizu Erosoku Matsuri unfolds, illuminating the cold with traditional painted candles. Each candle, a canvas depicting delicate seasonal flowers, crafts a soft glow, promoting the intricate beauty and warmth of artisanal craftsmanship amidst the winter landscapes.

When is Aizu Painted Candle Festival 2024?
Second week of February 2024.

Yokote Snow Festival

Embark on a nostalgic journey through the Yokote Snow Festival in Akita Prefecture, a living tradition breathing for over 450 years. Marvel at the grand kamakura, snow huts, where warmth and camaraderie blossom, and where visitors are embraced with delightful Japanese snacks and drinks, fostering a sense of unity and celebration beneath the frosty skies.

When is Yokote Snow Festival 2024?
Mid-February 2024.

Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival

Journey through a winter fairy tale at the Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival in Aomori Prefecture. The historic Hirosaki Castle, surrounded by a mesmerizing display of handmade snow lanterns and charming miniature kamakura, transforms into a magical snowy kingdom, where the gallant images of Nebuta warriors glow amidst the ethereal beauty of illuminated sakura trees.

When is Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival 2024?
The Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival usually takes place in the first two weeks of February.

Sounkyo Onsen Hyobaku Festival

In the icy embrace of Sounkyo Onsen in Hokkaido, witness the miraculous transformation of cascading waterfalls into majestic ice formations. The Hyobaku Festival unveils a fantasy ice realm, where the brilliance of nature's artistry shines through shimmering frozen waterfalls and mesmerizing evening illuminations.

When is Sounkyo Onsen Hyobaku Festival 2024?
Late January - mid March 2024.

Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival

lake shikotsu ice festival chitose hokkaido
Stop by Lake Shikotsu at night to witness the ice sculptures at their best!

At the Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival in Hokkaido, embrace the whimsy of winter through stunning sculptures crafted from the lake’s transparent waters. The sculptures, enchantingly illuminated by night, weave a magical tapestry against the backdrop of the serene caldera lake, offering a splendid spectacle that transitions bewitchingly from day to night.

When is Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival 2024?
Late January - Early February 2024.

Jozankei Snow Lantern Festival

Experience the romance of winter at the Jozankei Snow Lantern Festival in Sapporo. A delightful array of around 2,000 snow candles, handcrafted with care, radiates a soft glow, illuminating the snowy landscape. The ethereal flicker of candles, paired with the inviting warmth of the local onsen, crafts an atmosphere brimming with romance and tranquility.

When is Jozankei Snow Lantern Festival 2024?
27 January - 3 Feb 2024.

Aone Onsen Snow Illumination

Aone Onsen, in southern Miyagi Prefecture, beckons with a magical illumination. Thousands of delicate snow shrines (hokora), each glowing with a gentle light, transform the area into a captivating winter scene. Visitors are treated to the warming embrace of tonjiru (Japanese pork soup) and cocoa, elevating the experience in this historical onsen village adorned with nature’s pristine beauty.

When is Aone Onsen Snow Illumination 2024?
Mid-February 2024.

Otaru Winter Illumination (Otaru Snow Light Path Festival)

otaru canal otaru snow light path festival
Small candles transform the riverside during the Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

The Otaru Winter Illumination is an enchanting event held annually in Otaru, Hokkaido. During this captivating occasion, the city blossoms with the soft glow of numerous lights, creating a serene and magical ambiance. Various parts of the city, particularly the famous Otaru Canal and the former Temiya Line railway, become adorned with delicate snow lanterns and sparkling illuminations, casting a warm and inviting glow across the snowy landscapes. The reflections of these lights on the snow-covered ground and canal waters amplify the beauty, creating a picturesque and romantic atmosphere that truly celebrates the winter season.

When is Otaru Winter Illumination 2024?
10-17 February 2024.

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