The Nagaoka Festival is held from August 1st to August 3rd around the Shinano River in Nagaoka City. Its main attractions are the portable shrine float parades and folk dance processions during the day with large-scale fireworks displays in the evening on the final two days.
The festival has food tents with traditional Niigata cuisine: Kanzuri (a special seasoning made by leaving chili peppers exposed on snow, then adding flour, salt and yuzu), Hegi-Soba (soba with a special kind of seaweed), Sasa-dango (Japanese rice cake filled with red bean paste, seasoned with mugwort and wrapped in bamboo leaves) and others.
The main fireworks viewing areas require tickets to enter. However, as with most fireworks festivals in Japan, if you’re prepared to watch from slightly further away, you can watch for free. Organisers claim over 1 million spectators attend over the three days, so make sure you have your transport and accommodation organized in advance.
Nagaoka is directly accessible from Tokyo via bullet train in an hour and forty minutes, costing ¥8,400 for an unreserved seat. If you want to keep costs down you can catch local trains for ¥4,750 although this will take nearly six hours. There are buses available from Tokyo with prices starting from about ¥3,900 and a journey time of around three and a half hours.
With a cluster of business hotels located around the main station in Nagaoka, choices here are similar oth cost and room wise. For a simple room you can choose from the Hotel Hokke Club or the Hotel New Otani which both have Western rooms and economy options. If you want to up the comfort level head to the Teradomari Misaki Onsen Hotel which is out on the coast.