For some bizarre reason, you might not think of Niseko as the place to go for an epic Chinese New Year. After all, Niseko’s part of Japan and not China (we can hear all of you gasping in shock at that revelation). But, beginning on 24 January and with a nice long weekend, the world seems to converge on Niseko for the CNY holidays and the area comes to life.
With the added bonus of hotels and chalets still having reasonable availability over CNY – unlike a certain December holiday – we’re very much in the need to go zone. As for why Niseko is so grand for the New Year, well, you’ll just have to read on to find out.
Snow to Float On
January and February are by far the best months for snow in Niseko (sorry Christmas revellers!). Snow buckets down! January of 2019 alone saw 285 centimetres of snowfall and that was a “slow” season.
Plenty of Festivities
The 24th of January will see Niseko go up in bright lights as Niseko Village sets off a fireworks show for the ages.
The hotels in the area love to celebrate too. In the past, we’ve seen events like free pony rides, lion dances, family-style nabe and yakitori dinners, and Taiko Drumming.
Night Skiing Adventures
If you’ve got plenty of power in your legs, Chinese New Year is a pretty fantastic time to take advantage of Niseko’s night skiing. It’s an odd phenomenon, but while the restaurants and hotels of Niseko seem to be bursting, the hills can be oddly quiet once the sun dips below the horizon.
At night, you have the perfect opportunity to enjoy Niseko’s powdery slopes without having to worry about incoming traffic. Even better, as you ski down, you can take in the celebrations in town.
Chinese New Year coincides with some of our favourite Niseko festivals like the Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival and the Sapporo Snow Festival.
Shikotsu Ice Festival
What: On the banks of Lake Shikotsu, the lake’s waters are put to use not for keeping the fishies alive, but for our entertainment as artists create massive ice sculptures that glisten during the day, and are illuminated by a host of bright colours to transport you into a fairytale at night.
Where: Lake Shikotsu Hot Springs
When: January 25 to February 17
Sapporo Snow Festival
What: The Sapporo Snow Festival is a true celebration of snow – perfect for kids and anyone else for whom, six years later, “Let It Go” still plays on repeat. There are hundreds of massive snow carvings, tobogganing adventures, light shows, and even snow sculpture demolition.
For more information, check out our guide with all you need to know about the Sapporo Snow Festival.
Where: Odori Park, Sapporo
When: January 31 to February 11 (ok – so it’s a little after Chinese New Year, but if you’re staying for a week, it’s worth checking out on your way back to the airport!)
Want to know more about Niseko? Read our first-timers guide to Niseko here!