Sunday, January 23, 2011

A winter dreamland...

Travel and snow don't gel very well (unless the traveler is a snow sports enthusiast). When planning leisure travel, we always google  "best time to visit XYZ" or "XYZ weather in January". The destinations with sub zero temperatures are easily filtered. And it's a fair justification. Without snow the luggage is lighter, flight disruptions lesser, beaches are buzzing, cities are bustling and sightseeing is a lot more fun. Even when travelling to the mountains -  we love the sight of snowclad peaks, but don't want the white stuff on the surface.

The winter temperatures are wavering around 20C in Mumbai. For most mumbai-kars it's perfect weather conditions. But being a travel addict, I hate the four letter word called home. So instead of celebrating the perfect Mumbai weather...I'm actually remorseful of being at home. I'd prefer to be in freezing temperatures than home. And actually, I'm fantasising of being in the snow...especially after reading about the sparkling Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido prefecture, Japan. Cheers to the Japanese for proving it that snow can be a lot of fun.

The traditional snow festival began in 1950 at Odori Park in the city of Sapporo, when a group of students prepared snow statues and showcased them. Later, the event started to draw thousands of spectators for the majestic snow sculptures carved by the self defence forces. Today, more than two million people flock to Sapporo in Japan to take a look at the awe-inspiring structures, from palaces, statues and scenery's drawn out of the fairytales to events reflecting all that is contemporary. For seven days in February,these statues and sculptures(both large and small) turn Sapporo into a winter dreamland of crystal-like ice and white snow.Every year the number of statues displayed is around 400 in total.

The subject of the statues varies and often features an event, famous building or person from the previous year.A number of stages made out of snow are also constructed and some events including musical performances are held. Visitors can enjoy long snow and ice slides as well as a huge maze made of snow.At night those statues are illuminated, and the views are incredible.Watch artists create legends in the fragile blocks of ice and get a taste of the local delicacies as you dig into some of Sapporo's delicious food.

The 2011 snow festival will be from February 7 to 13. I'm quite sure there's a fellow traveler in Sapporo willing to swap homes with me in Mumbai !

All images via the City of Sapporo website

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. ~John Ruskin

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