Winter enthusiasts will gain a deeper understanding of the behind-the-scenes efforts involved with this breathtaking Hokkaido festival.

Following last February’s shift of the internationally renowned Sapporo Snow Festival to a virtual format, winter lovers will once again have something to look forward to when the festival resumes in-person early next year. While this festival in Hokkaido’s capital city is the most famous, there are plenty of other smaller-scale celebrations of winter to visit as well, including the Chitose Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival in the city of Chitose, Hokkaido.

Lake Shikotsu is a caldera lake that’s part of Shikotsu-Toya National Park, about an hour’s drive south of Sapporo, and is consistently ranked as being one of the clearest lakes in all of Japan. Its waters play an important role in the Chitose Lake Shikotsu Festival, which annually showcases the beauty and magnificence of ice in an outdoor, walkable museum.

▼ Evening ice illuminations are part of the Chitose Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival.

For this year’s 44th festival, organizational staff have partnered with the local Kyukamura Shikotsuko Resort Hotel to offer a special behind-the-scenes viewing and experience overnight package prior to the festival’s start. This package will be available to book between January 1-28 and costs 20,000 yen (US$176) per person for a two-person western-style room on weeknights, including all associated hotel charges and the experience fee.

This is a unique chance to tour the site and see all of the preparation involved in creating the mystical ice world of the festival!

Led by a staff member who emphasizes safety, guests can select a tour of the site from the following timeslots (usually on their check-out day): 7-8:30 a.m., 10-11:30 a.m., or 1-2:30 p.m.

Watch before your very eyes as the ice is chiseled into various forms.

Hoses on simple scaffolds ensure the presence of massive icicles that appear to cascade over a mountain of ice.

Do you want to take part in adding your own little contribution to the festival?

The actual Chitose Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival will take place between January 29 and February 23 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with illuminations lighting up the ice daily from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Make sure you bring plenty of warm clothes, but if you need more, you can always rent them at the hotel as well. While you’re in the area, you might also keep your eye out for some slightly more mundane scenes of snowy Hokkaido.

Source, images: PR Times
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