The snow festival first began in 1950,
when local middle and high school students created six snow sculptures in Odori Park.
The 1950 festival was held in conjuction with snowball fights, snow sculpture exhibitions, and a carnival. Despite low expectations, more than 50 thousand people showed up to the event. Following this, the snow festival became known as a seasonal event held every winter by the city citizens. Three years later (1953), for the first time, a towering 15 meter (~49 ft.3 in.) snow sculpture, ""Ascension"", was made.
In 1955, the Japan Self-Defense Forces also participated, and challenged themselves to making a large-scale snow sculpture.
The 10th year anniversary in 1959 saw the rallying of 2,500 participants in the making of the snow sculptures. This was also the first time the event was introduced on television stations and newspaper articles. Accordingly, due to the exposure gained from the media, the following year's festival became a huge success with the increase in the number of tourists from Honshu.
1965, formally established the Makomanai venue as the second venue.
In 1972, the Winter Olympics were held in Sapporo. This year's snow festival was held with the theme, ""Welcome to Sapporo"" - thus gaining exposure for the event on an international level.
1974 was the year of adversity marked by the oil crisis. Gasoline was not able to be procured for the small trucks responsible for treading over the soft snow continuously to create solid, hard snow. Creative measures had to be taken to keep the snow statues standing, such as the usage of steel drums within the structures.
Additionally, this year marked the start of the International Snow Sculpture Contest.
In the ensuing years, following 1974, cosmopolitan locations with strong ties to Sapporo such as Shenyang, Alberta, Munich, Sydney, Poland, etc. were exhibited as snow sculptures, distinguishing the forming of the snow festival from a domestic event to an international event.
Afterwards, the 34th anniversary in 1983 came with the arrival of the Susukino venue as the third official venue, emerging with a spectacular display of neon-lit snow sculptures, pioneering a new aspect to the snow festival. From 1984, the two day event was extended to seven days. The continuing expansion fo the festival can be attributed to the popularity of the well loved snow festival with people worldwide.
In 2005, the 40 year Makomanai venue closed down. From 2006 - 2008, the Sapporo Satoland venue was opened, and from 2009, the Tsudome venue was designated as the second venue. With every coming day, the snow festival will continue to evolve and move towards new innovative fronts.
Six snow sculptures made by students from three high schools and two junior high schools in the city were displayed in Odori 7-chome Square, which used to be a snow dumping ground for citizens. There was also a square dance, a singing contest, and a dog race on a course specially set up on the sidewalk. *The poster says that the event will be held on Feb. 18 and 19, but in fact, it was only held on the 18th.
The event was recognized as an annual event by the city. Fuji Girls' School joined in and made five sculptures. Fushimi High School's "Venus with a Bonfire" was a hot HOMEic as the tip of the bonfire lit up at night. On the 27th, a dance was held through the snow sculptures.
The main site was changed to Odori 4-chome in consideration of convenience of transportation. Works from six schools, including Sapporo Minami High School and Koryo Junior High School, was created in Nishi 4-chome.
Fushimi High School's "Ascension," the first of the giant snow sculptures, stands 15 meters tall. A total of 1,000 people participated in making the snow sculptures. Voluntary snow sculptures are being displayed in front of school gates and in schoolyards of elementary schools around the city.
During the festival, there was a fierce snow storm, and many of the snow sculptures were damaged or buried in heavy snow.
Japanese Self-Defense Forces participate in snow sculpture making for the first time. The 10-meter high sculpture of Virgin Mary, "Glory," was one of the prominent highlights.
The snowball fight is back. Under the music of the Battleship March, 200 members of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces participated in the event, wearing hachi-maki (Japanese headbands) and straw sandals, to the great enthusiasm of the crowd.
The venue was expanded to include Odori West 3-chome to 6-chome. The snowball fight will be held for the last time this year after an excited spectator fell down due to the thrilling battle between the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and the snowball fighters.
Helping to liven up the Hokkaido Expo. The venue expands to Odori West 8-chome. Satirical sculptures reflecting the current state of the world begin to stand out.
There were 64 snow sculptures, doubling the number of previous years. TV and other mass media introduced the event nationwide. The number of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces' large snow sculptures increased to three. Due to the unprecedented snow shortage, the snow for the sculptures had to be transported from Nakayama Pass by the JSDF.
The venue expanded from 3-chome to 9-chome, and the number of snow sculptures increased to 87. The Sapporo Snow Festival became more famous and attracted people from all over Japan.
Skiers and snow festival groups from the Japanese mainland start to visit. The number of lights and banners increased, adding more glamour to the venue at night. As the snow shortage in the city became more serious, a large amount of snow had to be transported from Nakayama Pass.
Even Yokozuna Taiho could not beat the heat. Sweating snow sculptures. There were two large snow sculptures: one by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, and the other was a collaboration between the JSDF, Sapporo Technical High School, and Gakugei University.
A snow festival was held at the Japanese Self-Defense Forces Makomanai Garrison. This was the beginning of the development of the second venue. A security headquarters was set up at Odori 5-chome to deal with lost and found items. TV stations invited TV personalities and held on-location shoots and shows. The images were broadcasted to TV viewers all over Japan.
From Tokyo to Sapporo, the Olympic Games are in full swing. This is the year that the Tokyo Olympics was held and the year that the Sapporo City Council decided to host the Winter Olympics.
Makomanai was officially designated as the second venue, and became a place where families and other visitors could touch and play with snow.
The exhibition is extended to four days. Odori West-8 and 9-Chome is turned into a citizens' plaza.
The theme is "Let's make the two major international events, the Sapporo Winter Olympics and the Osaka Expo, a success. With the decision to hold the Winter Olympics in Sapporo, the city will shine brightly in the international community.
The Associated Press broadcasted the Sapporo Snow Festival to the world, and an American monthly magazine also ran a feature on the festival.
The theme for the big snow sculpture was decided by the public and nine were selected. There was no snow until mid-January, so snow had to be transported from Iwamizawa.
The private sector began providing more cooperation through sponsorships and services for visitors.
The atmosphere was in full Olympics swing. At the ceremony, the people chosen as Miss Suzuran performed the fire-starting ceremony in the ancient Olympian style.
Giant snow sculptures also appeared at the Winter Olympics site. The counting method of the number of spectators was changed.
The Feb. 1-5 schedule is established. The price of goods at the stalls will also increase due to the rising costs of oil and inflation caused by the oil shock.
Fuel for snow transportation is in short supply due to the oil crisis. Snow sculptures were made using oil drums as cores. International Snow Sculpture Competition started at 2-chome Square.
A special plaza was set up for tourists to experience making snow sculptures, turning out to be a great success. The citizens' plaza expanded to include 8th to 10th streets. The Snow Queen was elected on the eve of the festival.
ny snow sculptures commemorated the bicentennial of the founding of the United States. The U.S. Minister to Japan presented a letter of appreciation to the Commander of the 11th Division of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force.
Sapporo Mode Show held for the first time. Representative fashions and models from eight countries, including Sweden, performed.
From this year, the unified theme is "A World of Pure White Dreams." Due to a serious shortage of snow, it was difficult to build the snow sculptures and forced the venue to become a one-way street.
The world-famous artist Taro Okamoto was commissioned to design a snow sculpture and created a 12-meter high "Snow Goddess" in the West 9-Chome Square.
Oil price hike hits snow transportation. A daring way to make snow sculptures while saving on heating. Foreign tourists were also noticeable.
From this year, the schedule rule is changed to make the last day of the festival land on a Sunday. The Susukino Tourist Association held its first "Susukino Festival".
The first English pamphlet was produced as a guidebook for foreign tourists.
The Susukino Festival officially becomes the third site of the Snow Festival with its pristine ice sculptures as the main attractions. Chefs from restaurants and hotels, chisels in hand, worked hard to create their ice sculpture masterpieces.
In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the sister city relationship between Sapporo and Portland, the "Portland Pioneer Courthouse" was created with the help of international students.
The city was hit by a typhoon-like W low pressure system. In commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the sister city relationship between Sapporo and Shenyang (China), "Fuling Long En Gate" was created. In a call for ideas for snow sculptures for children, a frilled lizard was the most popular.
The poster won the Japan Printing Industry Chairman's Award. The horse-drawn sleigh was popular with children at the Makomanai site, but the feature was cancelled the following year after a sleigh overturned during a ride and injuring some people. The finale of the festival is a jenka (a traditional dance) performed by about 400 people.
Period extended to 7 days. Travel agents in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, etc. launched a campaign for the Snow Festival. Warm air hit the area during the festival. Some works of the International Snow Sculpture Competition were completely destroyed.
365 teams applied for the Civic Plaza. Participation is highly competitive. It is also popular for citizens to participate in the making of the large and medium snow sculptures.
The Makomanai site opened at night to celebrate the 40th anniversary. The mercury lamp lights basked the large snow sculptures, like the Notre Dame Cathedral, look magical. Commemorative pins are available.
Nakajima Park became the fourth site for citizens to casually participate in the festival. The Makomanai venue was opened to the public one day before the exhibition.
The lighting ceremony for the Sapporo Universiade Winter Games was held in front of the snow sculptures. A record 362 snow sculptures was displayed at the four venues.
The Asia Pacific Tourism Summit was held just before the event, spreading the name of Sapporo and the Snow Festival to the world.
Nakajima Park site discontinued. Addition of a Citizens' Plaza at Nishi 12-Chome.
20 teams participated in the international snow sculpture competition. The lottery ratio for the Citizens' Plaza is 4.6 times.
Collecting donations for the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. Dancers from the YOSAKOI Soran Festival appear on the stage of the big snow sculpture.
This year, the organizers started to send out information over the Internet. We invited elementary, junior high, and high school students from around Japan and abroad to submit their ideas for snow sculptures of citizens.
The Virtual Snow Festival, where children share their ideas on the Internet, was in full swing. More than 200 entries were received from 20 students from 13 schools in and outside of Hokkaido, and the detailed designs were decided by e-mail.
Snow sculptures of the Nagano Winter Olympics and the World Cup are lined up. Tourists from Taiwan flocked to enjoy the festival.
The Sapporo Snow Sculpture Production Committee was established in preparation for the reduced cooperation of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force. A mammoth parent and young were created at Odori Nishi 4-Chome.
The number of applications for citizen volunteers exceeded the capacity. Volunteers guided visitors and helped lost children.
A CD of the image song "In Your Heart" was created. The first fireworks display in two years at the Makomanai site. A wedding ceremony was held in the snow at the International Plaza.
NPOs and citizen volunteers formed the Sapporo City Snow Sculpture Making Team. The group begins work on a large snow sculpture at the Odori site. In response to the simultaneous terrorist attacks, the Makomanai site implements a baggage check.
In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty, a Chinese TV station puts together a project for a major special program focusing on the Sapporo Snow Festival. Money left by tourists accumulates in front of the snow sculpture of the Great Buddha Nirvana, surprising the officials.
During this period, the call center started providing inquiry services in English. At the Makomanai site, metal detectors was introduced as a precaution against terrorism.
The end of the 40-year history of the Makomanai site.
The second site was changed from Makomanai to Satorando. Long line up for the slide.
Snow transportation from mountainous areas such as Nakayama Pass and Hoheikyo Dam due to low snowfall within the city. A mobile website was created and started providing information such as waiting times. A large tent was set up at 6-Chome and a "Hokkaido Food Plaza" was opened.
Low snowfall and high oil prices put a strain on transportation costs. 3,550 parking spaces were set up at the Satoland site. A three-hour long line for the popular slide at the Satoland site.
The second site was changed to Tsudome. Started selling goods online. "Sapporo Snow Festival Anniversary Festa" in Sapporo Dome is held as a commemorative event, while the "Candle Night" festivities were held at the Odori site.
Virtual singer "Hatsune Miku" cheers. Thailand wins the International Snow Sculpture Competition for the third year in a row.
Tourists from China and Taiwan are coming one after another during the Chinese New Year. After the Snow Festival, the snow from the sculptures were used at "Odori Park Waku Waku Winterland", where visitors could enjoy skiing and tube slides.
The competition rate was the highest ever. However, some snow sculptures collapsed due to warm weather. Since then, the snow sculpture management system was reviewed and safety measures were thoroughly implemented. Many snow sculptures and events were held to pray for the recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Projection mapping was carried out for the first time using the snow sculpture of Hoheikan building as a screen. The event was cancelled in the middle of the exhibition period for safety reasons due to a larger-than-expected crowd.
84 citizen snow sculptures. The lottery ratio was 8.9 times. Priority was given to securing aisles to avoid congestion.
The Susukino site was renamed "Susukino Ice World 2015" to familiarize with foreigners. U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, visited Odori 8-Chome. The number of large snow sculptures made by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces was reduced from 3 to 2.
A full-sized Shinkansen train appears as a snow sculpture. The amount of snowfall was half of a normal year. Snow had to be brought in to the city from Iwamizawa due to lack of snow. Tsudome extended for one week.
Tsudome site one week ahead of schedule. Using the latest projection technologies, the snow sculptures were on display with full lights and sound. 774 applications were received for 77 snow sculptures by citizens.
QR payment service for Chinese tourists are introduced in some stores.
As a project to commemorate the 70th anniversary, a new type of snow festival was held, combining digital technology. There was also a project to support the Eastern Japan Earthquake, as well as a snow sculpture of Hoteisama (God of Cleverness) that recreates the origin of the snow festival.
Due to the record shortage of snow, snow had to be brought in to the city from the foot of Mt. Yotei and the Sorachi region.
Introduced cloud translation equipment and web service chatbots in the venue. Download Brochure
Due to the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the event was unfortunately not held at a venue.
The festivities were moved to an online format, aptly named the "Online Sapporo Snow Festival 2021 - A Fair Created by Everyone". Online Sapporo Snow Festival 2021 special site.
2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the sister city affiliation between Sapporo and Munich!
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