The first Sapporo Snow Festival was held in Odori Park in 1950, with only six snow statues made by local high school students. Since then the Snow Festival has constantly expanded, gaining worldwide recognition.
In 1955, five years after the first Snow Festival, the Self Defense Force joined in and built the very first massive snow sculpture, for which the Snow Festival has become famous.
Sapporo hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1972, and the Snow Festival was largely acknowledged around the world through international media. In 1974, the International Snow Sculpture Contest started as part of the Snow Festival. Many countries from overseas, including the ones that never receive snow, compete the Contest every year.
The Snow Festival has developed its international aspect year by year. Snow statues with motifs of places around the world, including Shenyang (China), Alberta (province in Canada), Munich (Germany), Portland (Oregon, U.S.A.), each of which has a close relationship with Sapporo, were made.The Sapporo Snow Festival has grown from the humble beginnings to become the biggest and most well-known of Hokkaido's winter events and a snow festival of international caliber.