For the first time in four years, the vibrant Spark Carnival is scheduled for August 2023.
The Spark Carnival combines pulsating samba with a traditional type of Japanese summer festival, where portable shrines are carried through the town. It is on August 1st annually, regardless of what day of the week it is, and always follows the Omiya West Gate Summer Festival. Both the Spark Carnival and the proceeding Omiya West Gate Summer Festival are part of a collective of matsuri (Japanese for festival) known as the Omiya Summer Festival.
The organizers advertise this as the 36th annual Spark Carnival, but the 33rd, 34th and 35th actually weren’t on – they were cancelled due to the pandemic! Before the pandemic, approximately 220,000 people attended this carnival annually. It is held around Omiya station, near Tokyo, so many Tokyo-ites come out to the boons for this carnival! Moreover, it appeals to many as it is on a weekday when there are few other festivals on.
The street performers are donned in colourful costumes as they parade around Omiya Station. Not just samba dance either. Usually there are also Yosakoi performers, at the very least. In addition, portable shrines are paraded around the streets. Furthermore, there is taiko drums, stage performances and festivities galore!
The above image, of the festival, is from the official Saitama Tourism and International Relations website (STIB). The featured photo at the top of this post is just an image (stock photo) of a samba carnival dancer and not from this particular festival.
Event: Omiya Summer Festival Spark Carnival 2023 大宮夏まつり 第36回スパークカーニバル
Date: August 1st annually
Time: 5 pm to 10 pm
Venue: Omiya Station West exit, 1 Chome Sakuragicho, Omiya Ward, Saitama, 330-0854. View on Google Maps.
There is no parking for this event. It is advised you come by public transport. The festival area is right by the West exit of Omiya Station.