Best Winter Illuminations in Hokkaido 2023–2024
Where to See Winter Illuminations in Hokkaido
Winter illuminations are now a top attraction in Japan and colourful, magical lights spread across the country during winter. From north to south, numbers of illumination events are held in cities across Japan around Christmas season but some events run even until Spring following year.
Japan’s snow wonderland, Hokkaido is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan during winter, drawing visitors with a range of winter attractions such as snow festivals, ski resorts and onsen. And there are some spectacular winter illuminations held only this time of the year.
In this article, I’m going to introduce my picks of the best winter illuminations in Hokkaido including Sapporo, Otaru and Hakodate. Let’s check them out!
Sapporo White Illumination
Sapporo White Illumination (さっぽろホワイトイルミネーション) is a spectacular city illumination events, which started as the first traditional light event to be held in Japan back in 1981. Approx 740,000 LED lights are used for the event, illuminating the entire city magically. The citywide event features a variety of winter light-up that can be seen at several locations in Sapporo City such as Odori Park and around Sapporo Station.
Until 25 December, a German style Christmas market will be also open with numbers of stalls offering authentic Christmas food, drinks, craft items and ornaments. Some illuminations are available until mid March and can be enjoyed together with the famous snow event Sapporo Snow Festival which is held in early February every year.
More info: Sapporo White Illumination
Shiroi Koibito Park Sweet Illumination
Shiroi Koibito Park Sweet Illumination (白い恋人パーク スイートイルミネーション) is a light up event held at the chocolate theme park, operated by a Japanese confectionery manufacturer who produces Shiroi Koibito, a famous cookie from Hokkaido. Decoration lights and installations will take place at several locations at the park.
Otaru Snow Story Ao no Unga
Otaru Snow Story Ao no Unga (小樽ゆき物語 青の運河) is an illumination event taking place around Otaru Canal, the city’s most famous landmark. The canal is illuminated with 10,000 dazzling blue LED lights after sunset, creating a magical and romantic scenery. The popular attraction Otaru Canal cruise boats are also decorated with blue lights during the priod.
After the illumination event, another popular winter event “Otaru Snow Light Path Festival” , held annually in mid February, can be enjoyed around the canal.
Hakodate Illumination (はこだてイルミネーション) is the main attraction of Hakodate Winter Festival, which is held annually throughout Hakodate City in winter. The light-up mainly takes place around the charming Motomachi district where many historical buildings are located. Enjoy the romantic scenery of illuminated Hakodate City only this time of the year!
Hakodate Christmas Fantasy
Hakodate Christmas Fantasy (はこだてクリスマスファンタジー) is a Christmas event held around the red brick warehouses year. The event features a Christmas light-up around the warehouses, fireworks display around 18:00 daily and soup bars. The highlight of the event is the massive Christmas tree which was brought as a gift from Halifax, Canada, a sister city of Hakodate about 18,000 kilometers away.
Lake Toya Onsen Illumination Street
Lake Toya Onsen Illumination Street (洞爺湖温泉イルミネーションストリート) is an illumination event held around Toyako Onsen (Lake Toya Onsen), a top hot spring destination in Hokkaido. Toyako Onsen area turns into a winter wonderland as it’s lit up by colourful LED lights. Visitors can enjoy strolling through the 70m long illumination tunnel made of approx 400,000 LED lights.
Hoshi no Yume Illumination
Hoshi no Yume Illumination (五稜星の夢イルミネーション) is an winter event with a light-up of the 1.8km long inner moat around Goryokaku, the star-shaped fort in Hakodate City. From the Goryokaku Tower’s observation deck, you can see the spectacular view of the star-shaped illumination only this time of the year. The illumination is available from sunset until 19:00 and the observation deck is open until 18:00.
Asahikawa Machi Akari Illumination
Asahikawa Machi Akari Illumination (あさひかわ街あかりイルミネーション) is a citywide illumination event taking place in Asahikawa City. Approx 140,000 lights illuminate mainly five areas in the city: central Asahikawa, Heiwa-Dori Shopping Street, Midoribashi-Dori Street,Showa-Dori Street, Nanajoryokudo Park and Tokiwa Rotary. The scenery of the illuminations twinkling in the snow-covered city is simply breathtaking.
Otofuke Tokachigawa Swan Festival Sairinka
Otofuke Tokachigawa Swan Festival Sairinka (おとふけ十勝川白鳥まつり彩凛華) takes place at Tokachigaoka Park every year from late January to mid February in order to celebrate the swans flying into the region. The event features about 600 large and small installations of colourful lights, creating a magical scenery with the snow and night sky. The 15 mins sound and light show is also held 4 times daily (19:00, 19:30, 20:00, 20:30).
Do you want to check more illumination spots in Japan? Then please check out these articles, too!
Thank you very much for reading! If you need more information about Hokkaido in winter, you may wanna check out these articles below, too!