A magical winter experience: Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival (Hokkaido)

A magical winter experience: Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival (Hokkaido)


There is no better place to enjoy snow in Japan than Hokkaido. Whether you're looking to enjoy snow sports or visit snow festivals, Hokkaido is the place to enjoy winter to the fullest. In this feature, we talk about the magical Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival.



In 2023, the Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival (支笏湖氷濤まつり) was held from January 28 to February 23. At this event, you can see ice walls that are extremely tall towering over you as well as tunnels and other ice sculptures. Most of these are also illuminated in the evening. You can also enjoy some snacks and beverages at food stalls during the festival.



Before you plan a visit, make sure you are well prepared for slippery terrain. Shoes with a good grip are essential. Further make sure to wear clothing that will keep you warm.



The entrance fee is only 500 yen. Even the entry counter is shaped like an igloo.



As you as you enter, you will be in front of a massive ice wall, which is said to be the height of a 2-storey building. Each area has different structures varying in height and scale. It feels like you might be entering a freezer pantry.



Several of the structures that you can enter are adorned with icicles that are naturally suspended from the ceiling.



To make the walks from one spot to another interesting, you can even spot photographic works on the way.



No matter where you look, it is a strange sight that is difficult to experience anywhere else.



There is also a shrine in an ice hut; Pray here and put some money in the donation box.



Interestingly-shaped ice sculptures are dotted around the event area.



You can also climb certain ice walls and get a view of the surroundings.



Once up, you will be able to see the overall atmosphere of the event.



There are also people who come here to take wedding photos. Isn't it so romantic?



Since icicles start melting at different times, there are areas that will be closed to prevent any mishaps from icicles breaking off.



Stepping into the ice caves, you will surely feel like you are in an isolation chamber.



There are rubber mats around the event space as it would be impossible to walk around on the ice without them.



The highlight for many is being able to take a stunning photograph in front of this massive ice wall. You can clearly see how huge it is!



When there is no festival, this is a popular viewpoint to enjoy the landscape of Lake Shikotsu with a gorgeous red bridge and mountains in the background. If you do get a chance, make sure to visit this magical spot in Hokkaido.


Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival (支笏湖氷濤まつり)

● Period: 28 January - 23 February, 2023

● Opening hours: 10:00-20:00 / Light-up 16:30-20:00

● Access: About an hour and a half from Sapporo by car / 1050 yen by bus from New Chitose Airport

● Admission fee: 500 yen

● Website: https://hyoutou-special.asia

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