The Sapporo Snow Festival is a world famous winter celebration where hundreds of massive ice sculptures are created from packed snow and shaved ice and put on display throughout the city of Sapporo, Japan. To support the festival, over 30,000 tons of snow is trucked in from the mountains and surrounding areas. The festival was established in the 1950 displaying six snow statues made by local high school students. In 1955 the festival had its first enormous snow sculpture, built by Japan’s Self Defense Force, but it didn’t hit its stride until 1972 when Sapporo hosted the Winter Olympics. The festival, one of Japan’s largest and most distinctive winter events, is held during the first full week of February every year and visited by around 2 million people from Japan and around the world.
The snow statues and ice sculptures are displayed in a 3 locations: the Sapporo Community Dome (Tsudome site), Ekimae-dori/Station Avenue (Susukino site) and the main site, Odori Park. The Odori site stretches through the center of downtown Sapporo and displays a variety of snow and ice sculptures, many with international themes and twists. There are also snow stages at the location that provides visitors with a variety of entertainment. The International Snow Sculpture Contest held at the Park lets teams of three people from various regions of the world compete against each other for the top creation. The Tsudome site lets you enjoy the charms of winter with amazing snow slides and mazes, regional delicacies for you to snack on and the snow experience corner. Don’t forget to have a sip of one of the city’s most famous products, Saporro Beer. The Susukino site is home to an ice sculpture show that features real crabs, squid and salmon as well as a variety of events including the Ice Sculpture Contest. It is the location of the opening and closing ceremonies as well as photo opportunities with the Ice Queen beauty contest winner.
The statues and sculptures created for the event vary and often feature famous people, buildings and even events. With most of the statues illuminated in the evening, the view from the TV Tower at Odori Park is truly an enchanting sight. You can also learn all about the history of the festival at the Sapporo Snow Festival Museum which displays historical materials and media. For 2010, the festival is being held from Friday February 5 through Thursday February 11. Visit the winter wonderland that is the Sapporo Snow Festival, past visitors will surely tell you it is a magical and memorable experience.
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