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Sapporo Snow Festival is off to a cool start

by Hanna Lange

Staff Writer

Sapporo is currently a winter wonderland, hosting special events and showcasing displays of elaborate snow and ice sculptures for its 65th annual Sapporo Snow Festival. This weeklong event, which kicked off on Feb. 5, is Japan’s largest and best-known snow festival, drawing around 2 million visitors each year, including many from overseas.

The festival takes place at three sites: Odori Park, its main venue; the family-orientated Tsu Dome; and the Susukino district of Sapporo. At Susukino, 12 teams from around the world are participating in an ice-sculpture contest, with visitors able to vote for their favorite works. If you’re too busy enjoying snow activities during the day, you can also visit some displays at night, such as those in Odori Park, which are being illuminated until 10 p.m. every evening.

For those who prefer to actually play in the snow, there are plenty of options, including ice-skating, snow sliding or rafting and even dancing at open-air live music events. Many of the activities are family-friendly, so there’s plenty to keep everyone occupied. If you want to take a break from all the action, however, or simply need to recharge with a decent meal, there are a lot of restaurants offering both Japanese and international cuisine.

The Sapporo Snow Festival continues till Feb. 11. Entry varies depending on the activity. For more information on different venues and event times, visit www.snowfes.com/english.