Recent Posts, Posted by Matt in Festivals & Holidays,Gangwon,Gyeongsang,Jeju,Jeolla,Seoul, 3 Comments
Think that winter is when you stay bundled at home? Think again! Korea’s distinct four seasons guarantees a packed winter festival season, a boon for travelers who enjoy ice fishing, sunrise watching and fireworks to ring in the New Year. As always, be sure to check out the Korea Tourism Organization’s great interactive festival website (Go here). So, without further delay here is my list of great winter festivals in Korea!
Boseong Tea Fields Festival of Lights (Boseong, South Jeolla Province)
December 11-January 31
Boseong is justly famous for its beautiful rows of green tea fields, and its most famous plantation has turned its dormant season into a light show. For seven weeks, from 17:30 until 24:00 every day, Boseong’s orderly rows of tea will host an elaborate light show. See computer-generated photos of this year’s show on the website.
(more info: call +82-61-1330 or visit here [Not a terribly helpful site].)
Seoul Festival of Lights (Gwanghwamun Plaza, Seoul)
December 19-January 24
Korea’s capital city has gone all out this year with its 6th Hi Seoul Winter Festival, which will turn Seoul Plaza, the Cheonggyecheon (video link), and other downtown areas of Seoul bright with light. In addition to three ice skating rinks in the center of Gwanghwamun Plaza, 300 trees decorated in white lights will line the streets from Gwanghwamun to Sungnyemun. The Hangang Bridge will also be brightly lit, as part of the 5-week festival.
(more info: call +82-2-1330 or visit here.)
Pyeongchang Trout Festival (near Jinbumyeon’s Odaecheon Stream, Gangwon Province)
December 22-January 31
Cut holes into a frozen streambed and catch your lunch or dinner with a line or by your own two hands. After doubling the size of this popular annual festival last year, in addition to fishing, you can play traditional Korean winter folk games, sled while pulled by a snowmobile, fly kites, or ride ATVs.
(more info: call +82-33-1330 or visit here [Korean only].)
Yangyang New Year Sunrise Festival (Naksan Temple & Beach, Gangwon Province)
December 31-January 1
“Yangyang” means “the place where the sun rises,” so it’s no surprise that this coastal town has long celebrated its beautiful sunrises. In fact, legend says that wishes made on New Year’s Day at Mt. Naksan, near Yangyang, will come true. Naksan Beach is located just south of Naksansa Temple. Festivities will include a ceremonial ritual honoring the god that protects the East Sea and balloon and kite flying. Also on tap is a fireworks show and the opportunity to eat some ddeokguk (떡국), a traditional meal to usher in the New Year.
(more info: call +82-33-1330 or visit here.)
Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival (Hwacheon, Gangwon Province)
This festival is in honor of the mountain trout. Being that the Hwaheoncheon Stream is among the first places in Korea to freeze over during the winter, it’s fitting that the five area villages collaborate on one of the biggest wintertime festivals. Cut holes and catch fish via line or by hand on the frozen 100-150 meter wide streambed. No license is required and you can eat your catch raw or grilled on site.
(more info: call +82-33-1330 visit here [Last year’s site].)
Taebaeksan Snow Festival (Taebaek, Gangwon Province)
Established in 1995, this is one of my favorite winter festivals. Located on Mt. Taebaeksan near the border of Gangwon and North Gyeongsang Provinces, this festival features ice sculptures, sledding, a Snowman Festival, an ice climbing competition and the opportunity to enjoy barbecue and soju in the snow. It’s also the home of the Polar Bear Run (formerly called the National Naked Marathon, tho it was neither a marathon nor run by nude joggers). Once you’ve had your fill of snow events, check out the excellent Taebaek Coal Museum.
(here’s a post I did for last year’s festival.)
(more info: call +82-33-1330 or visit here.)
Inje Icefish Festival (Soyangho Lake, Gangwon Province)
Some 700,000 attendees are expected at this festival celebrating all things cold and icy. Participate in snow horse riding, bowling via innertube or a “National Ice Soccer Competition.” Located on picturesque Soyangho Lake in Gangwon Province, this festival has become a winter tradition.
(more info: call +82-33-1330 or visit here [Last year’s site].)
Spring Welcoming Exorcism of Tamna (Jeju City, Jeju Island)
Tamna is an ancient kingdom of Jeju Island and “ipchun” means the first day of spring. The upcoming farming season inspired this “gut” or exorcism ritual to pray for a bountiful harvest. This authentic reenactment of many traditional rituals is held for two days. Events include a procession of citizens dressed in traditional clothing, lively music, a photo exhibition and hands-on cooking, mask-making and traditional games programs. The highlight is the exorcism ritual, performed according to Jeju’s unique local traditions.
(more info: call +82-64-1330 or visit here.)
Jeju Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival (Saebyeol Oreum, Jeju Island)
This fantastic festival is a must-see event for visitors and residents, alike. On the first full moon of the lunar New Year, locals have continued a tradition of burning fields to kill harmful bugs and encourage new grass for their cattle. To pray for a healthy and prosperous new year, this tradition is reenacted by setting an entire oreum (parasitic volcano)ablaze in a hot and smoky fire festival that’s not to be missed.
(here’s a post I did on last year’s festival.)
(more info: call +82-64-1330 or visit here [Korean only].).