The Asahikawa Winter Festival usually takes place at the same time as the Sapporo Snow Festival (February ~ date varies by year). It's popular with locals and some Asian tourists. However, it doesn't get much international attention.
Surprisingly, many of Asahikawa's ice sculptures are more interesting that Sapporo's.
Asahikawa's feature snow attraction is usually larger than Sapporo's. In fact, they hold the Guinness World Record for the largest snow sculpture (A 30 meter high replica of Sumon Castle, 1994). This year's giant snow sculpture was Transformers (constructed by Japan's Self Defense Force).
Being a local festival, there are more activities for kids. The main attraction featured a 200 meter ice slide. There were also snowball fight competitions.
Local children are also involved in making snowmen for the festival. It feels like the entire city is engulfed in snowmen.
Festival foods featuring local specialties such as Asahikawa Ramen are on offer.
The festival is worth a visit. The ice sculptures are amazing and everything is less crowded than in Sapporo. Asahikawa is also worth seeing. It has a famous zoo and a fair amount of nightlife.