The Otaru Snow Light Path Festival (小樽雪あかりの路, Otaru Yuki Akari no Michi) began in 1999 with the hope of creating a place for people to “feel easy, to think about things leisurely in the glow of the candlelight, and to have time to reflect on themselves forgetting a little of their bothersome daily life in a rapidly changing society”. It is held at the same time as the Sapporo Snow Festival, but the atmosphere here is far more peaceful and spiritual: candles artfully placed on top of the snow and the frozen canal that runs by the waterfront. The festival attracts about 500,000 visitors every year, many of whom come to visit from Sapporo (which is just an hour away from Otaru by train).
There are two main sites: Unga Kaijo and Temiyasen Kaijo. The former is the stretch along the canal, made all the more scenic by the town’s beautiful architecture; the latter is an old railroad built in the 1880s that is illuminated with snow lanterns and decorated with sculptures.