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Best Things to Do in Hokkaido in February: Must-Experience Snow Festivals and Local Chocolate Shops

If you are going to go sightseeing, you want to incorporate into your itinerary things that you can only see and experience during that time of the year. In this issue, we will introduce the conditions, events, and recommended spots in February in Hokkaido for those who are interested in such things.

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About Hokkaido in February

Atmospheric temperature

Hokkaido in February continues to be bitterly cold, as in January, with average temperatures still below freezing, although slightly higher than in January, and even colder, especially at night. Snow also continues to fall and is plentiful.

Events

February in Hokkaido is a month full of winter events! The most representative event is the Sapporo Snow Festival held in Sapporo City, which attracts many tourists from Japan and abroad. Other snow and ice festivals can also be enjoyed in Otaru City and Asahikawa City.

Travel

With temperatures basically below freezing in February and snow as good as ever, Hokkaido in winter is a mecca for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. The world-famous Niseko and Rusutsu resorts attract visitors from all over the world in search of high quality snow. Snow sightseeing to enjoy the winter scenery and hot springs are also popular. In addition to being the peak season for winter sports, February is also the month of the popular Sapporo Snow Festival, making this a great time to travel to Hokkaido and enjoy all that winter has to offer!

However, since this is the month when popular events are held, it is expected to be more crowded with tourists than in January, especially in Sapporo. Travel costs will also be higher than in January, so if you are considering a trip to Hokkaido in February, it is recommended to secure flights and accommodations as early as possible.

February Fashion

It is still bitterly cold in Hokkaido, so warm clothing is essential. The basic style is to wear warm underwear, a sweater, long pants and a down jacket. Warm clothing with waterproof and heat-retaining items is essential. Waterproof boots that are slip-resistant are also useful. Longer length shoes will be more convenient to prevent snow from getting into the shoes. Scarves, gloves, and woolen hats are a must for those attending outdoor events at night, as it gets especially cold. Since it is heated indoors, it is recommended to dress in layers and wear clothes that are easy to put on and take off, so that you can cope with the difference in temperature between indoors and outdoors.

Winter festival events to enjoy in February

Hokkaido in February is full of festivals that make the most of snow and ice because of the abundant snowfall in the region! As the cold weather continues in February, be sure to dress warmly and enjoy the fantastic winter scenery, including the pure white world of the Snow Festival and the brightly illuminated world.

*The event information listed is subject to change. Please check the official website for the latest information.

Sapporo Snow Festival (さっぽろ雪まつり)

The Sapporo Snow Festival is a major winter event that attracts 2 million visitors every year from Japan and abroad. It is held every February at a total of three venues including Sapporo Odori Park and its surrounding areas.The festival is so large scale that it has been selected as one of the three major snow festivals in the world. If you are planning to visit Sapporo during the Snow Festival, it is recommended to secure your accommodation as early as possible so that you can stay at the hotel or ryokan of your choice.

The elaborate snow and ice sculptures are so powerful and detailed that they take your breath away. The snow sculptures in Odori Park are illuminated at night, and local singers and idols perform on stage. Hot meals will be sold at food stalls on the day of the festival, and visitors can enjoy Hokkaido’s gourmet food at the venue.

Asahikawa Winter Festival (旭川冬まつり)

Asahikawa Winter Festival is one of the most popular winter events in Hokkaido since 1960, and is held every February in Asahikawa, Hokkaido. The main venue is the vast Ishikari River bed, and the festival is especially known and popular for its giant snow statues. In the past, the Asahikawa Winter Festival snow sculptures have even made it into the Guinness Book of Records for the size of snow sculptures.

In addition to viewing the snow and ice sculptures, visitors can also enjoy Hokkaido’s unique gourmet cuisine at the stands that offer a wide variety of dishes!

Lake Akan Ice Festival (阿寒湖氷上フェスティバルICE・愛す・阿寒「冬華美」)

Lake Akan, a well-known sightseeing spot in eastern Hokkaido, holds a winter event called Lake Akan Ice Festival every year from early February to early March. The winter fireworks display on Lake Akan, which is covered with ice all over, in freezing temperatures of minus 20 degrees Celsius, is impressive and breathtakingly beautiful! Fireworks will be shot every day during the festival period.

In addition, visitors can try snowmobile and banana boat rides and other winter activity sports for adults and children alike, as well as enjoy food and drink such as hot milk, amazake (sweet sake), and freshly fried wakasagi fish tempura.

Recommended Chocolate Shops in Hokkaido

Valentine’s Day in Japan

Unlike Western culture, the custom of Valentine’s Day in Japan is for women to give chocolates to men, and many women confess their feelings by giving chocolates to the man on Valentine’s Day.

While most people send chocolates to their lovers, partners, or favorite people to express their romantic feelings, many people also choose to send chocolates to their friends and colleagues to show their friendship and appreciation, or as a reward for their own efforts. In Japan, Valentine’s Day has become a day of opportunity to express gratitude and affection in various ways to the people you love, and in February, many people choose and buy their favorite chocolates for the special day on February 14, or enjoy making their own chocolates by hand.

The following are four spots in Hokkaido where you can enjoy delicious chocolates and sweets!

ROYCE’ CACAO&CHOCOLATE TOWN (ロイズカカオ&チョコレートタウン)

ROYCE, Hokkaido’s leading chocolate store, opened ROYCE’ CACAO&CHOCOLATE TOWN, a facility attached to the ROYCE Town factory in Tobetsu-cho, Hokkaido, in 2023.

Visitors can learn about the history of ROYCE through a diorama of the ROYCE farm area and the cacao cultivation that ROYCE is involved in, as well as through an exhibition of the company’s chocolate collection. Visitors can also take part in a workshop where they can make their own original chocolates.

In addition to over 200 kinds of baked goods and chocolates, the ROYCE Town factory-direct store offers a wide variety of sweet products that can only be purchased here, as well as original goods that make great souvenirs. Please enjoy shopping for souvenirs for your loved ones and yourself ✨.

Shiroi Koibito Park (白い恋人パーク)

Shiroi Koibito Park is a confectionery factory and theme park facility located in Sapporo. It is the production center for Shiroi Koibito Cookies, a popular Hokkaido confectionary that is also a popular souvenir, and the headquarters of confectionary manufacturer Ishiya Seika Co. Visitors can tour the confectionery production line and enjoy hands-on experience of making confectioneries.

In 2019, the factory underwent a major renovation, and in addition to factory tours, visitors can now take a tour called “CHOCOTOPIA HOUSE,” which uses projection mapping to introduce the production process from cacao to chocolate. In addition, visitors were previously able to tour only the Shiroi Koibito cookie production line, but now they can also tour the baumkuchen production line.

Shiroi Koibito Park’s facilities are not limited to the indoor space; the outdoor Rose Garden is popular as a lovely spot for roses to bloom in the summer. In winter, the park is illuminated with Christmas lights, and the park changes its appearance with the seasons.

Rokkatei (六花亭)

Shopping at Rokkatei

Rokkatei is known as a famous confectionary store representing Hokkaido. Rokkatei’s popular product is “Strawberry Chocolate. Freeze-dried strawberries are coated with white chocolate or milk chocolate, and the vivid contrast between the strawberries and chocolate is eye-catching. The acidity of the freeze-dried strawberries, of which only ripe strawberries are used, and the sweetness of the chocolate are exquisite.

Rokkatei stores are only located in Hokkaido, so please take this opportunity to stop by when you travel to Hokkaido! Some stores have cafes attached, so you can enjoy a café break as you shop.

Chocolatier Masale (ショコラティエ マサール)

Chocolatier Masale is a good choice when you want unique and luxurious chocolates. Chocolatier Masale is a chocolatier born in Hokkaido, and its “Palette Chocolat” with its pop design makes a perfect gift. There are also many regular customers who buy them as a reward for themselves.

Editor

February in Hokkaido is full of fun winter festivals! Enjoy the beautiful scenery, snow activities, and Hokkaido-born sweets that only a snow country can offer ⛷.

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