The Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo Yuki Matsuri) is a famous festival held annually in Sapporo, Japan over seven days in February. Currently, Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome are the main sites of the festival.
The Snow Festival began in 1950, when six local high school students built six snow statues in Odori Park. In 1955, the Japan Self-Defense Forces from the nearby Makomanai base joined in and built the first massive snow sculptures, for which the Snow Festival has now become famous. Several snow festivals existed in Sapporo prior to the Sapporo Snow Festival, however, all of these were suspended during World War II.
Every year the number of statues displayed is around 400 in total. About 2.5 million people visited Sapporo to see the hundreds of snow statues and ice sculptures.
Owing to the Energy crisis of 1974, snow statues were built using drums. This was due to the shortage of gasoline caused by the crisis and many of the trucks used to carry snow to the site were unavailable. In the same year, the International Snow Statue Competition started and since that year many snow statues built by teams from other countries have featured; especially from sister cities of Sapporo such as Munich.
In years when the accumulated snowfall is low, the Self-Defense Force, for whom participation is considered a training exercise, brings in snow from outside Sapporo.