Mention Niseko, and one immediately thinks of its world-class powder snow, excellent ski conditions and top-notch ski accommodations. In different periods across the winter season, there will be changes in the weather, snow conditions, prices, dining and nightlife options and other key factors. To help you better plan for your trip, we’ve provided a quick overview for Niseko ski season below:

Niseko - Mount Yotei

Start of Niseko ski season: Late November – early December

  • Average temperatures: -1°C to 6°C (November) & -1°C to -7°C (December)
  • Night skiing: Unavailable
  • Backcountry gates: Open (depending on weather conditions).
  • Monthly observed snowfall (2018 / 2019 season): 84 cm
  • Lift lines: There aren’t that many vacationers in Niseko during this period, so you can expect short lift lines.

Restaurants, nightlife and events: The majority of restaurants commence their operations at the start of December, and you’ll find a good selection of dining venues open before then. The nightlife scene is much quieter though, and you won’t find many events being held.

Accommodation costs: Low season rates. Additional discounts are often offered.

Villa Finder’s tip: Demand is fairly low at this time of the year, so you shouldn’t have issues making a reservation closer to the end of the booking season. Whenever possible, it’s still best to book in advance.

niseko skiing
Credit: @niseko skiing on Instagram

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Early season: mid-December

  • Snow conditions are variable during the early season, and the backcountry gates may not be open. Around this time, night skiing is made available, and shuttle services around the village commence operations.
  • Average temperatures: -7°C to -1°C
  • Night skiing: Night skiing is typically available at this time of the year at 4.30 pm – 8.30pm daily.
  • Backcountry gates: Open (depending on weather conditions). Tip: Make sure that you’re familiar with the Avalanche Danger Scale, and check the day’s avalanche report before you head out to the slopes.
  • Monthly observed snowfall (2018 / 2019 season): 333cm
  • Lift lines: While there is an increase in vacationers, the lift lines are still fairly short at this period.

Restaurants, nightlife and events: All seasonal restaurants have commenced operations at this period. Popular restaurants may require a reservation, or it may be difficult getting a table if you haven’t made a booking in advance. We recommend making reservations, even if you’re planning to dine out at less popular venues. The nightlife scene is also livelier, and you may chance upon small events in the resorts.

Accommodation costs: Low seasonal rates, discounts may be offered. Costs may vary depending on whether your stay runs into the next season.

Villa Finder’s tip: Advanced bookings for accommodations and services are recommended, particularly if you’re planning to stay until Christmas. It’s best to book at the time of release (April), or by early June.

niseko ski season - skiing in niseko
Credit: @annupurimonkey on Instagram

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Peak season: Late December – mid-February

  • The peak Niseko ski season offers the best snow conditions, excellent night skiing and abundant dry powder. It’s also the busiest period, particularly around major holiday periods. Temperatures may dip to -10°C in the town, and to -25°C at the peak of the mountains.
  • Average temperatures: -7°C to -1°C (December) & -10°C to -2°C (February)
  • Night skiing: Available between 4.30pm – 8.30pm daily.
  • Backcountry gates: Open (depending on weather conditions). Tip: Make sure that you’re familiar with the Avalanche Danger Scale, and check the day’s avalanche report before you head out to the slopes.
  • Monthly observed snowfall (2018 / 2019 season): 333cm (Dec), 285cm (Jan), 198cm (Feb)
  • Lift lines: Expect a surge in tourist numbers during the Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year holidays. Countries like Australia are having the school summer holidays at this point in time too, so Niseko can feel crowded in general.

Restaurants, nightlife and events: Most restaurants will require reservations. The nightlife scene is lively, with nightly events held across the resorts.

Accommodation costs: Peak season rates.

Villa Finder’s tip: We recommend booking at the time of release (this typically occurs at the start of April, although the dates may vary from March till May depending on the accommodation or service provider you’re looking at).

niseko ski
Credit: @yamasportniseko on Instagram

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Shoulder season: Mid-February till end-March

  • The shoulder season offers favourable skiing conditions, a vibrant nightlife scene and a drop in prices. There’s still a great snow base, although weather conditioners may vary.
  • Average temperatures: -10°C to -2°C (February) & -7°C to 1°C (March)
  • Night skiing: Available from 4.30pm – 8.30pm daily, until late March.
  • Backcountry gates: Open (depending on weather conditions). Tip: Make sure that you’re familiar with the Avalanche Danger Scale, and check the day’s avalanche report before you head out to the slopes.
  • Monthly observed snowfall (2018 / 2019 season): 198cm (Feb), 45cm (Mar)
  • Lift lines: Niseko is still fairly busy until early March. After early March, there is a general decrease in tourist numbers (with the exception of the Easter and school spring holidays), and the lift lines are fairly short.

Restaurants, nightlife and events: Most seasonal restaurants remain in operation until early March, and some may begin to shut down at the end of the month. While restaurants will begin to have more walk-in seating available, making a reservation is still recommended.

During February, the ambience remains lively and there are events being held at the resorts. Things start to quieten down in March, with end-of-season events being held occasionally.

Accommodation costs: Accommodation costs remain high until early March, after which there will be a dip in prices, along with an increase in discounts.

Villa Finder’s tip: Advanced bookings are recommended if you’re planning to visit Niseko between mid-February till mid-March; you’ll likely have a good selection of accommodation options to choose from if you make a booking by July.

Planning to be in Niseko after mid-March? You’ll still have plenty of options to choose from if you make a booking during the months of November, December or January. But we do recommend making early reservations if your trip coincides with the school spring holidays, as there tends to be a spike in tourist numbers then.

best time to go to niseko
Credit: @pswizzle17 on Instagram

End of season: April – May

  • During this period, you’ll find few tourist crowds and plenty of affordable accommodation. However, skiing is limited, as are dining, nightlife and entertainment options.
  • Average temperatures: 0°C to 9°C (April) & 5°C to 15°C (May)
  • Night skiing: Not available.
  • Backcountry gates: Backcountry gates are open (depending on weather conditions), and may be closed for the season in April. Tip: Make sure that you’re familiar with the Avalanche Danger Scale, and check the day’s avalanche report before you head out to the slopes.
  • Monthly observed snowfall (2018 / 2019 season): 5cm (April)
  • Lift lines: Lift lines are fairly short during the start of April. Closer to the end of the season, there won’t be any lift lines – and if you’re lucky, you could be the only skier on the slope. Depending on weather conditions, most of the lifts will be closed during April. Do check out the Niseko United website for updates on the weather and lift status.

Restaurants, nightlife and events: You’ll still find a good number of seasonal restaurants in operation during April, but most will close for the season at the month end. Restaurants that remain open through the year will have walk-in seating, but do note that some venues will prefer that diners make reservations.

Across the resorts, there are fewer events being held (with the exception of the Easter and spring school holidays, where there are more activities and events available). End-of-season events may be held occasionally.

Accommodation costs: Lower seasonal rates are available in early April. From mid-April onwards, prices drop to the lowest rates across the year, and discounts are often available.

Villa Finder’s tip: In early April, you’ll still have plenty of options to choose from if you make a booking during the months of November, December or January. But we do recommend making early reservations if your trip coincides with the school spring holidays, as there tends to be a spike in tourist numbers then. From mid-April onwards, there will be few other tourists, so you’ll likely be able to secure accommodations even if you make a last-minute booking.

Additional tips

How long should I stay in Niseko? Most vacationers stay between a week to two weeks during Niseko ski season. Beginners and experienced skiers may like to stay on longer; this gives beginners get more time to practice skiing before hitting the slopes and allow experienced skiers to have ample time to visit multiple ski fields.

Going backcountry skiing? Make sure you’ve read the Niseko rules, and check the avalanche report daily. For beginners or first-time skiers, visiting Niseko from March to early April can be a great option; the snow conditions are still favourable, there aren’t too many tourists and you’ll be able to take advantage of the lower seasonal rates.

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