Snowy Malaysia – The Sapporo Snow Festival runs February 5-11 and is expected to attract about 2 million visitors. Among the sculptures is this 18-meter-high, 28-meter-wide snow replica of Malaysia's Sultan Abdul Samad building.
Snowy India – Animation is projected onto a large snow replica of India's Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah. The real Mughal mausoleum is in Agra in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Winter sports – The festival is Japan's biggest celebration of winter. This massive monument to athleticism is called "Winter Sports Paradise, Hokkaido."
Festival history – A 10-meter-high, 18-meter-wide ice replica of Taipei's National Palace Museum is a popular attraction. The Sapporo Snow Festival kicked off in 1950 with just six snow statues made by local high school students. In 1955, Japan's armed forces joined the action and started making the massive snow sculptures for which the festival is famous today.
Olympic tie-in – "Winter O-Mo-Te-Na-Shi" (Japanese for "hospitality") was inspired by Tokyo Olympic bid committee ambassador Christel Takigawa's presentation in Argentina. (Tokyo will host the Olympic Summer Games in 2020.) The Sapporo Snow Festival's fame skyrocketed when the city hosted the 1972 Olympic Winter Games.
Sculpture teams – At night many sculptures are lit up. One of the highlights of the event is the International Snow Sculpture Contest, in which sculptors from around the world show off their skills. Organizers say nine teams will participate this year. The teams are from: Daejeon (Sapporo's sister city in South Korea), Hawaii, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Poland, Portland, Oregon (Sapporo's sister city in the United States), Singapore and Thailand.
Prep work – A lot of prep work is required to make giant sculptures, such as "Winter Sports Paradise" (pictured). First, snow is transported to the site and bulldozed into a huge base. Wooden panels are installed to act as both frame and scaffolding. Next, a crane fills the frame with snow from above. Only when the snow hardens can the intricate carving work begin.
Team Crereco – Sapporo pop band Team Crereco performed in front of the Taipei National Palace Museum sculpture on opening night of the Sapporo Snow Festival.
Odori Park – The Sapporo Snow Festival is spread over three sites. Odori Park (pictured) is the main venue. It stretches through downtown Sapporo and features all of the international-themed snow and ice sculptures.