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Friday, Feb. 3, 2012

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Winter in the city: Scenes from last year's Sapporo Snow Festival show the range of activities available for visitors to enjoy. PICTURES COURTESY OF THE CITY OF SAPPORO

Ice sculptures, snow slides at Hokkaido fest

Staff writer

The City of Sapporo will be hosting the 63rd annual Snow Festival this month. The event is considered a "must see" for tourists and about 2 million people visited the festival last year.

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The main draw is a collection of sculptures created entirely out of snow and ice. This year, organizers say that 222 sculptures will be on display.

The festival is held at three different sites in the city. The main site is at Odori Park, which is in the middle of downtown Sapporo. The site will feature 136 sculptures, and stages that will host a variety of performances scheduled to take place throughout the week.

On nearby Ekimae-dori, visitors can find the Susukino site. That location will host the 32nd Susukino Ice Festival, which will showcase 60 sculptures and include other winter activities such as ice-sculpting contests and photo-ops with an Ice Queen.

Finally, the Tsudome site caters to the child in everyone. This is where visitors can get a real dose of snowy fun with snow slides and mazes. Twenty-six sculptures will be featured at this site. The Tsudome site is a little farther away from the main venue.

The Snow Festival began in 1950 with six snow sculptures built by local high school students. Over the years, it has grown tremendously in popularity to become the main event on Hokkaido's calendar.

The 63rd Sapporo Snow Festival will take place Feb. 6-12 at various locations in Sapporo. The Odori site is located at Odori Park. Take the Tozai Subway Line to Nishi Juitchome Station or Bus Center Mae Station. The site closes at 10 p.m. The Susukino site is located on Ekimae-dori. Take the Namboku Subway Line to Susukino Station. The site is open until midnight (until 10 p.m. on the final day). The Tsudome site is located at the Sapporo Community Dome. Take the Toho Subway Line to Sakaemachi Station. The site is open from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. There are no admission costs for the festival. For more information, call (01) 1222-4894 or visit www.snowfes.com.

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