Winter in Sapporo (November to March)
As the cold begins to draw in, the first snowfall of the year can be seen in November. From late December, the amount of snow begins to increase as Sapporo transforms into a winter wonderland just waiting to be explored, covered in pure white snow that lasts until March.
Sapporo in winter is an incredible experience, with a variety of winter activities to be enjoyed, including skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing, as well as events such as the iconic Sapporo Snow Festival, which takes place around the city when the cold reaches its peak in January and February.
Read on for some important information to keep in mind before you travel.
Low temperatures and an abundance of snow
Important information including temperature and snowfall
The statistics below are annual averages for Sapporo between 1981 and 2010. There are few cities in the world the size of Sapporo, which has a population of about 1,950,000 people, that have such large amounts of snowfall. In addition, the fact that winter accounts for about a third of the year has led to the formation of unique customs and habits that may seem unusual to visitors from outside of Hokkaido.
|Annual snowfall:||597 cm|
|Winter days (minimum temperature below 0°C / 32°F):||124.8|
|Mid-winter days (maximum temperature below 0°C / 32°F):||45|
Although the cold outside is severe, areas inside buildings and public transport are usually well heated. To counteract these large jumps in temperature when travelling, the best option is to wear layers that can easily be put on or taken off when needed. In terms of footwear, snow boots or shoes with deep treads are recommended as the snow and sleet that falls during the day often freezes overnight, making the road surfaces smooth and slippery.
Enjoying Sapporo’s delicious cuisine in winter
Winter is when the produce of Hokkaido, with nutrients and flavor preserved from the summer months, comes into its own. The cold weather is also the perfect excuse to warm up with wonderful cuisine. The abundant crab caught on the Sea of Japan coast and game meat such as Ezo deer that can only be hunted during the winter season are absolute must-tries.
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In addition to the usual trappings of winter in Sapporo, there is a wide range of activities to enjoy, such as hot springs to warm yourself in, and special events that only take place in this coldest of seasons. There are also plenty of ways to enjoy the snow without any special equipment, and an abundance of ski resorts located just 20 to 60 minutes from the city center by car or by bus.
Things to do in Sapporo in winter
Things to do in and around the city
Things to do in and around the cityIn addition to the usual trappings of winter in Sapporo, there is a wide range of activities to enjoy, such as hot springs to warm yourself in, and special events that only take place in this coldest of seasons. There are also plenty of ways to enjoy the snow without any special equipment, and an abundance of ski resorts located just 20 to 60 minutes from the city center by car or by bus.
Winter sightseeing recommendations
Winter events calendar
|Chitose and Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival||February 23 - January 29, 2021||Lake Shikotsu hot springs, Chitose city|
|Sapporo Art Stage||November 1-30, 2020||Sapporo Ekimae-dori Underground Walkway, other venues|
|German Christmas Market in Sapporo||November 22– December 25, 2019||Odori Park 2-chome, Satellite venues—Sapporo Television Tower, Underground walking area in front of Sapporo Station, Sapporo Factory|
|Jumbo Christmas Tree at Sapporo Factory||November 3 – December 25, 2020||Sapporo Factory Atrium|
Kita 2-jo Higashi 4-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
|Yukitouro (Snow Candle Way)||Feburary 5-11, 2021||Jozankei Shrine (Jozankei Onsen Higashi 3-chome, Minami-ku, Sapporo)|
|Otaru Snow Light Path||February 12 – 14, 2021||Otaru canal, the former Temiya railway line, Asarigawa Onsen and other sites in the city|
Finding your hotel
Looking for a hotel for your stay? Leave it to Welcome to Sapporo, with hotel information grouped by area. Once you’ve decided where you want to go, what you want to do and what food you want try, all that’s left is to choose a place to stay. Sapporo has abundance of unique hotels, whether you’re looking for hot springs and baths, large rooms, or delicious breakfasts.