The first Sapporo Snow Festival was held in Odori Park in 1950, with only six snow statues made by local high school students. Beyond all expectations, the festival attracted about fifty thousand people and soon became a major winter event of Sapporo.
In 1955, the Self Defense Force joined in to make a massive snow sculpture. In 1959, twenty five hundred people participated in making snow sculptures and the nationwide media reported the Snow Festival for the first time.
In 1965, Makomanai site was officially opened as the second site. Sapporo hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1972, and the Snow Festival was widely acknowledged around the world through international media.
In 1974, the International Snow Sculpture Contest began as a part of the Snow Festival. Since then, a number of teams from various regions of the world; including Shenyang (China), Alberta (Canada), Munich (Germany), Sydney (Australia) and Portland (U.S.A.), each of which has a close relationship with Sapporo, have been participating in the contest.
In 1983 the third site at Susukino was opened adding a new aspect to the festival with the ice sculptures illuminated by the street neon lights. In 1984, the duration of the festival was extended by two days and became seven days.
In 2005, Makomanai site was closed after forty years. The site was temporary moved to Satoland until the present Tsudome site was set up as the second site in 2009.
The Sapporo Snow Festival has developed its international aspect over the years, and has been creatively evolving up to the present.