Korea is always a fun place to visit with lots to see and do, but if you time it right, you can get involved in some awesome festivities and experience a piece of real Korean culture. If you want to get to know Korea a little better, then join KKday as we break down the best annual festivals and celebrations over all four seasons.
Ice Fishing Festivals
Hwacheon Sancheon Ice Festival is the biggest ice fishing festival in Korea, the water is clear and the ice thick. Many tourists will attend the festival and to help those less familiar with Korean ice fishing, the event organizers have kindly set up a specific area where they’ll throw in a few extra fish to help the foreign beginners out! The festival also runs a bare-hands fishing event. Contestants wear short sleeves and shorts, and when the whistle goes everyone jumps into the icy pool together and grab fish with their bare hands! Once the time limit is up, the contestants can jump into a nearby warm pool to recover. When ready, the participants can bring their hard-earned fish to be cooked or turned into sashimi.
Located 700 meters above sea level, 2018 Winter Olympics host Pyeongchang is the coldest place in Korea and the earliest to see snow fall. It’s also hosts the Trout Fishing Festival. In addition to the ice fishing, you can also bring your freshly caught trout to be prepared into a delicious meal. The festival also includes a huge range of fun activities such as sledding, snow rafting and snowmobiles!
If you want a real icy, winter experience get yourself to Korea during January and get involved in one of the ice fishing festivals, remember to wrap up warm!
Garden of Morning Calm – Lighting Festival
Another great Korean winter festival is held in the huge Garden of Morning Calm. The gardens are open all year round with different exhibitions and events throughout the year. In winter, it’s time for the Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival, the biggest festival of light in Korea that’s very popular with couples and photographers. Every evening after sunset the garden’s 3 million light decorations are switched on together, illuminating the trees, paths, plants and bushes to spectacular effect.
If you find yourself waiting for nightfall at the Garden of Morning Calm, why not try one of these nearby activities:
Jinhae Gunhanjie Cherry Blossom Festival
Japan is famous for cherry blossoms, but Korea should be too! Every year, in spring, the naval port city of Jinhae hosts the Gunhanjie Festival, the largest of it’s kind in Korea, to celebrate the arrival of the beautiful beojkkochl (cherry blossom). When the sakura are in full bloom, the streets of Jinhae become flooded with the delicate pink flowers. The flower tunnel is especially spectacular, there are a range of activities and things to do and see, including, a market and visiting the naval base. The Naval base is usually not open to the public but during the Gunhanjie Festival, the gates are opened and the public are allowed to enter, enjoy the blossoms, see the base, the ships, and are also treated to performances from the military marching band.
Jindo Miracle Sea Road Festival
Every spring, on the island of Jindo, a Moses-like miracle occurs. This “Miracle” is due to the tide falling back, which reveals a 40 meter wide sand road leading the 2.8 Km back to the Korean mainland. The road appears every year, sometime between the end of February and mid-June and lasts for about 1 hour. Jindo island holds a festival to mark the occasion, attracting Koreans and tourists from around the world wanting to catch a glimpse of (and walk on), this phenomenon.
Note – Rain boots are a pretty good idea for crossing the Jindo Miracle Sea Road.
Haeundae Sand Festival
It’s summertime and time to hit the beach! There aren’t many better places to have fun in the sun than at the Haeundae Sand Festival in Busan. Check out the impressive sand sculptures, take a hot sand bath, run a marathon or play beach volleyball in the day and by night, enjoy the fireworks and concerts. The restaurants by the coast are also famous for their sushi! On top of this you also have the sun, sand and sea! What more do you need from summer?
Going to Busan? Try a Private Night Tour of Busan
Boryeong Mud Festival
Around 200 Km south of Seoul, the town of Boryeong attracts hordes of visitors for the annual Boryeong Mud Festival. At this festival there is no such thing as clean, only dirty and very dirty! Don’t worry though Boryeong mud is supposed to be very good for the skin and contains healthy minerals. So get in there!
Events and activities held at Boryeong Mud Festival include opening and closing ceremonies, mud wrestling, mud slides, mud training courses and the much more relaxing mud baths and mud massages. The celebrations spill into the night as festival goers move to the beach to enjoy fireworks and music.
Seoul International Fireworks Festival
Some of the best fireworks choreographers from around the world come together every autumn for the Seoul International Fireworks Festival and the results are spectacular! People will begin gathering in on the river banks of Yeouido Island’s Hangang Park at around midday, bringing picnics and blankets in anticipation of the festival. There are some shows to entertain the early birds and when sun goes down the main event can begin. Fireworks masters representing different countries put on a display, complete with music, to wow the audience.
Note – This festival attracts big crowds, if possible try to go early and bring a picnic blanket/mat. If you take the subway, come out at exit 2 and remember to grab one of the leaflets being handed out, they are for ordering fried chicken or pizza deliveries!
Andong Mask Dance Festival
Andong is sometimes referred to as Korea’s spiritual capital. One of the reasons, along with the many historical and cultural sites, is Hahoe Village and the Andong Mask Dance Festival. The festival is held in autumn and it is during this time that the many gingko trees will transform into a captivating yellow and brighten up the whole town in time for the celebrations. The mask dance is an important part of Korean history and on top of dance performances and competitions, visitors can also partake in mask dance lessons, mask making and watch puppet shows.
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