2023's Best Summer Festivals Near Niseko

  • By Tsuyuki

Summer festivals in Hokkaido are a highlight of the cultural calendar, offering a fascinating insight into rich traditions and customs. With lively parades, traditional music and dance performances, and an abundance of local food and drink, these festivals are a celebration of the town's unique heritage. Japanese festivals pay homage to nature and the changing of the seasons and are a lot of fun for tourists and locals alike.

Yosakoi in Sapporo
7-11 June 2023

Yosakoi is a lively and colourful dance festival that takes place annually in Sapporo. The festival, which began in 1992, features teams of dancers, each donning brightly coloured costumes and wielding wooden clappers known as naruko. The teams perform choreographed routines to the upbeat sound of traditional Japanese instruments like taiko drums and flutes, as well as modern pop music. The festival attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators from all over Japan and beyond, who come to witness the spectacle of the vibrant and energetic Yosakoi dance performances. In addition to the dance competition, the festival also includes food stalls, carnival games, and other cultural events. 

Photograph: Hokkaido Guide

Hokkaido Shrine Festival
14-17 June 2023

The Hokkaido Shrine Festival is one of the most significant annual festivals in Sapporo. The festival is also known as Sapporo Festival, and is a celebration of the Hokkaido Shrine, which is the most important Shinto shrine in Hokkaido. Performances of traditional music, taiko drumming and Japanese dance take place at Maruyama Park where Hokkaido Shrine is located. There are also festivities at Nakajima Park. One of the highlights of the festival is the Yoiyama evening, where the streets around the shrine are illuminated by hundreds of lanterns, creating a magical atmosphere. On the final day, a parade winds through the streets of the city from Hokkaido Shrine to the centre of Sapporo, with costumes, drumming and floats. 

Photograph: Hokkaido Guide

Kutchan Jagamatsuri
5-6 August 2023

The Kutchan Jagamatsuri is the largest summer festival in the Niseko area, celebrating locally harvested potatoes and congratulating the local community for a successful harvest. This summer festival is an exciting occasion, with games, parades, performances, food stalls and traditional drumming performances, creating a wonderful atmosphere for attendees. There are plenty of activities to entertain the kids too, including jumping castles, games and fireworks. The Kutchan Jagamatsuri is held each year in early August.

Photograph: Niseko United

Niseko Town Tanabata Fireworks Festival
5 August 2023

Head to nearby Niseko Town for a summer fireworks festival. Each year residents and guests to Niseko Town enjoy live music and a selection of traditional Japanese foods, and one of the biggest fireworks displays in Hokkaido.

Obon Week
11-16 August 2023

Obon is an annual Buddhist event celebrated throughout Japan that honours ancestors. During Obon, it is believed that the spirits return to visit their living relatives in this world. Obon is one of the biggest holiday seasons in Japan, with Golden Week and New Year. 

Setsu Niseko will host Obon Week celebrations. Visit the Event page for information

Photograph: Mirror UK

Hokkai Bon Odori
11-16 August 2023

The Hokkai Bon Odori is a Japanese dancing and drumming festival held in Sapporo during Obon. The festival is a celebration to welcome the spirits of ancestors to visit, through dancing around a yagura. Entry to the festival is free, and it is held at Sapporo’s Odori Park each year during Obon. 

Photograph: Mikasa City Hokkaido

Umaimon Festival - Rusutsu
17-19 September 2023

Rusutsu's Umaimon Festival is an exciting festival celebrating food, fun, music and the mountains. Tickets include unlimited BBQ food, wine and juices as well as access to the amusement park. A fun day for people of all ages.

Photograph: Kamori Kanko Co., Ltd.

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