Darth Vader and his loyal Storm Troopers took centre stage in Hokkaido's annual festival of snow and ice sculptures on Thursday (February 5).

The Sapporo Snow Festival is a festival held annually in Sapporo, Japan, over seven days in February. Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome are the main sites of the festival.

The Storm Troopers were created by some 400 Japanese Self-Defence Force troops, who volunteered for the month-long operation of piling up 3,500 tons of snow and carving it into an artwork of 15 meters (49 feet) in height, the biggest ever in the 66-year old annual festival, organizers said.

The festival also featured Olaf the snowman from Disney's animation hit Frozen.

The snow sculpture of Xingtian Temple, one of the most popular temples in Taipei, Taiwan, was among the 204 artworks in the festival.

Hundreds of Self-Defence Force personnel worked on the snow sculpture of the 8th-century UNESCO World Heritage, Kasuga Taisha Shrine of Nara, Japan for 29 days, organizers said.

Organisers expect the seven-day festival to attract over 2.5 million visitors.