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What started off in 1950 as community event to display six snow statues made by local high school students is today an international event that attracts over two million visitors each year from within Japan and abroad. The Sapporo Snow Festival has undergone a number of changes and expansions over the decades, most notably with the involvement of Japan’s Self Defense Force from 1955, as well as the introduction of an International Snow Sculpture contest in 1974 which helped the snow festival achieve international recognition.
Today the Sapporo Snow Festival consists of three separate sites, but it is the 1.5 kilometer stretch of snow sculptures along Odori Park in the center of the city that attracts the most attention and media coverage. Here over 100 snow sculptures—from film heroes and heroines to gaming characters—are illuminated from sundown until 10pm each night of the festival creating a fantastical, larger-than-life world that you need to see to believe.
Elsewhere there are snow rafting events during the day at the Tsudome Site, and about 60 ice sculptures displayed for the Susukino Ice World at the Susukino Site.