Now one of Japan’s most popular winter events, the first Sapporo Snow Festival was held in 1950, featuring just six snow statues built in Odori Park by local high school students. Since then, the event has snowballed into a winter wonderland, which attracts more than two million people from around the world to the capital of the mountainous northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, a popular ski spot also known for its beer. The annual festival, known as Yuki Matsuri locally, is centred on Odori Park in downtown Sapporo, where giant sculptures of snow and ice are erected alongside a 1.5km trail that is illuminated at night. There are two other sites: Tsudome, a community dome with large snow slides and a tobogganing zone, where the festival starts a few days earlier on 1st February. And Susukino Ice World, which features an ice sculpture contest and show, the opportunity to touch and ride some sculptures and an ice bar serving hot drinks.