The Lilac Festival is held at the end of May, around May 22nd to 26th, and as the first festival of the year that doesn’t involve snow marks the start of spring in Sapporo.

As the weather starts to warm up the streets around Odori park fill with the sweet fragrance of lilac, the traditional flower symbol of the city. Odori Park is the main venue of both this and most of Sapporo’s festivals, and once the light purple and white lilac flowers are in full bloom the park really comes to life. Events during this time include music festivals, open tea ceremonies and the giving out of lilac plants. Originally the festival was started mainly as a music event, and music events still remain a strong focus of the event today. 2013 marks the 55th anniversary of the event.

The festival spans the 5th, 6th and 7th blocks of Odori park. The 5th block features indoor activities like origami and portrait drawing as well as a flea market, with all sorts of odds and ends on sale.
Block 6 features a covered stage for music events, with a variety of performers playing during the 4 days of the event. Local school music bands are some of the main performers. There are also several food stalls in block 6, predominantly with an international flavor such as Indian curry, Turkish cuisine, Spanish, etc. Because most of the tables are located in this block it is the main culinary center. Local vegetables and herbs are also on sale at a small booth here.

The 7th block is also has a stage featuring live performances of the Pop/Rock/Folk variety. This is the home of the wine garden, where many different varieties of wine are available for tasting. You can rent a wine glass for 500 yen, which can be returned for refund when you’re done. Each variety of wine is about 500 yen. There are many food stalls offering dishes that compliment wine, such as cheese plates.
In addition to the main venue at Odori Park there are flower exhibits at Kawashimo Park. Various events at both location include lilac give-aways, the planting of commemorative trees, wine gardens, outdoor Japanese tea ceremonies, cafe corners, and musical performances.

Come and help enjoy the start of spring and the outdoor season in Hokkaido by enjoying Sapporo’s official flower!

This post is also available in: Japanese