FLAMING torches, crazy costumes, and fireworks to ring in the new year at Niseko Grand Hirafu.
The festivities started with skiers and boarders holding burning torches, forming a giant ‘11’ to symbolise the approach of 2011. These lucky skiers and boarders applied early and secured a spot in this unique opportunity.
Eventually in the darkness, they made their way down the Kogen Course, one-by-one with nothing but their flaming torches to illuminate the way.
It was the first time in a while that the weather has been nice for this annual event. 2008 ended with heavy snow, making watching and participating unpleasant. 2009 ended with a blizzard, forcing the event to be cancelled.
Once all the riders had made their way to near the Kogen Hotel, the skies burst with hundreds of fireworks as the clocks struck midnight, giving a most unusual view of Hirafu.
There were also similar events in Niseko Village and Niseko Annupuri.