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
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.
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
Vibrant ice candles
The ice candles at Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival | ©とまりん^^ / Photozou
The Red Tower
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
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
A kaleidoscope of colors
A neon ice playground | ©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.