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Ice world. | ©MIKI Yoshihito / Flickr
Ice world. | ©MIKI Yoshihito / Flickr
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9 Stunning Photos of Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival, Hokkaido

Picture of Dave Afshar
Updated: 31 January 2017
Every year from late-January to mid-February, the Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival is held in Hokkaido’s Shikotsu-Toya National Park. Located less than an hour’s drive from Sapporo, the event draws both locals and visitors from all over the country and across the globe. Known for being the cleanest and clearest in Japan, water from Lake Shikotsu is sprayed throughout the park to form various ice sculptures, slides, walkways, and ice shrines. In the evening, the spectacles are illuminated by a myriad of colors and shapes, creating a majestic, fantasy-like feel.

Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival entrance

By day, the entrance to the festival almost looks like an igloo – but it’s in the evening that the park comes to life.

The igloo-like entrance to Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival | ©とまりん^^ / Photozou
The igloo-like entrance to Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival | ©とまりん^^ / Photozou

Koke no Domon (Moss Gates)

One of the most recognizable sights in the park, this moss-cloaked gulley was formed by flowing lava over years of volcanic eruptions. During the festival, brightly colored lights cast a vivid rainbow across its icy exterior, while inside, emerald hues create an eerie, fantastical vibe.

Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival illuminated by brightly colored lights | ©とまりん^^ / Photozou
Koke no Domon entrance | ©とまりん^^ / Photozou
Another view of the Moss Gates at the Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival | ©とまりん^^ / Photozou
Another view of the Moss Gates at the Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival | ©とまりん^^ / Photozou

Vibrant ice candles

The ice candles at Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival | ©とまりん^^ / Photozou
The ice candles at Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival | ©とまりん^^ / Photozou

The Red Tower

The red tower | ©MIKI Yoshihito / Flickr
The red tower (left) against a backdrop of the ice candles | ©MIKI Yoshihito / Flickr

Inside Koke no Domon

Emerald ice world inside Koke no Domon | ©MIKI Yoshihito / Flickr
Emerald ice world inside Koke no Domon | ©MIKI Yoshihito / Flickr

Ice slides

A number of ice slides and games hold the attention of children, making the festival especially popular among families.

An ice slide at Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival | ©とまりん^^ / Photozou
An ice slide at Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival | ©とまりん^^ / Photozou

A kaleidoscope of colors

A kaleidoscope of colors at Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival | ©とまりん^^ / Photozou
A neon ice playground | ©とまりん^^ / Photozou

“Big Mountain”

The impressive "Big Mountain" | ©とまりん^^ / Photozou
One of the main sculptures: “Big Mountain” | ©とまりん^^ / Photozou

For more information on the dates and location of the festival, click here.