Hakodate Christmas Fantasy 2016
The Hakodate Christmas Fantasy is a Christmas illumination event held every winter since 1998 in the bay area of Hakodate, Kanemori red brick warehouses line the streets. Every December the Fir tree is delivered from Hakodate’s sister city, in Halifax, Canada. The gigantic tree stands 20 meters tall is lit up daily with 50,000 lights. This illumination event is signified by a daily firework display. To keep visitors warm, steaming hot soup is sold from stands along the main street.
The Hakodate Christmas Fantasy has 4 main events:
* Opening ceremony – on December 1st
* Everyday ceremony – from December 2nd to December 22nd
* Fantastic Eve – from December 23rd to December 24th
* Christmas Night Ceremony – on December 25th
#1. Opening Ceremony
On December 1st, the opening ceremony kicks off at 5:45 PM with the chime of holy bells. The opening of the Hakodate Christmas Fantasy is signified by the lighting up of the Fir tree, then followed by a spectacular fireworks display. After that, the first day is celebrated by the special live opening event to bring about the Christmas spirit.
#2. Everyday Ceremony
From December 2nd to December 22nd the daily lighting up ceremony of the Christmas tree is held. Visitors can also apply to participate in the Christmas parade where several people ride on illuminated sleighs along with Santa Claus and other characters. The tree changes color at certain time intervals and sometimes is colored red and white to look like the Japanese flag. There is also the “Premium Red Tree” which is shown only at 6:30 PM, 7:30 PM and 8:30 PM for periods of 15 minutes. The tree itself stays illuminated until 2 am from Sunday to Thursday and until 7 AM on Friday and Saturday.
#3. Fantastic Eve
Photo Credit: hakodatexmas.com
Fantastic Eve is held for two days, from December 23rd to December 24th. The magical Christmas illuminations and fireworks display create a truly romantic evening. This is a popular time for couples to visit the Hakodate Christmas Fantasy. A concert is also held over the final two days.
#4. Christmas Night Ceremony
Finally, on Christmas Day the tree is turned off at 8 PM for the final time. The night is celebrated by one last fireworks display with romantic illuminations to liven up the event. The fireworks take place after various award ceremonies are held. An executive committee is selected to award a prize to the contestant with the house that has the best Christmas decorations. A Christmas Fantasy Tree contest is also held where contestants are judged based on there Christmas tree decorating skills.
A Church of Fir Tree Fairy
Photo Credit: Toby Oxborrow@flickr.com
In front of the famous Fir tree is a small church called “A Church of First Tree Fairy”. This church only shows up for a limited time for the Hakodate Christmas event. It is very popular with colors on Christmas eve so you may have to wait in a long line. Next to the church is a romantic bench that is lit up for couples, it is a popular spot to take photos. Other churches in the area are also lit up to celebrate Christmas.
Photo Credit: hokkaidolikers.com
Soup bar stands are lined up along the main street selling steaming hot soup, they are a hit among visitors during the cold winter nights. Many varieties of soup are available. Since Hakodate is known as a flourishing port city, flavors were chosen from Japanese, Asian and Western cuisine to highlight the melting pot of cultures. You must purchase a ticket first in order to get the soup. Tickets are sold inside the event for 600 yen. Soup is sold from 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM.
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Hakodate Christmas Fantasy
Address: 14-2 Suehiro-cho, Hakodate City, Hokkaido
Access: 13 minute walk from Hakodate Station
Illumination Period: December 1, 2016 to December 25, 2016
Hours: 4:30 PM to 12:00 AM
*Friday, Saturday and December 22nd to 25th until 2:00 AM
Website: Hakodate Christmas Fantasy (Japanese)