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.
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.
Vibrant ice candles
The Red Tower
Inside Koke no Domon
A number of ice slides and games hold the attention of children, making the festival especially popular among families.
A kaleidoscope of colors
For more information on the dates and location of the festival, click here.