Korea has four clearly defined seasons, and wedged neatly between the bitterly cold winters and the hot, humid summers is spring. In spring, the temperature rises, snow and ice melt, beautiful flowers bloom and some brilliant festival’s kick off the season in style making this a terrific season to visit Korea.
Show Off Your Lantern Making Skills
Yeon Deung Hoe (Lotus Lantern Festival) is held every year in honor of Buddha’s Birthday. Celebrations are held across Seoul, at various times over three days, in Jongno Street, Cheonggyecheon Stream, Jogyesa Temple and Bongeunsa Temple. Spread out over these three days are a host of performances, dances and entertainment, activities such as lantern making and food sampling are also on offer. On the evenings of the 29th and 30th be sure to stick around for the main attraction, the superb illuminated lanterns coming in all shapes, sizes, themes and colors.
- April 28 – Traditional Lantern Exhibition (runs until May 7)
- April 29 – Lantern Parade (7 p.m.) sandwiched between performances and celebrations starting from 4:30 p.m. and continuing until 11 p.m.
- April 30 – Traditional cultural activities and performances begin at 12 p.m. and continue on until the final celebrations and lantern parade at 7 p.m.
Pick Your Own Tea
Boseong, in the southwest of Korea, is the largest producer of tea in the country. In addition to the many tea exhibitions to browse, events going on during Boseong Green Tea Festival include tea ceremonies, music, and a hanbok (traditional Korean dress) fashion show. There are also various hands-on, tea related activities to get involved in, make your own green tea rice cakes, green tea soap and tea cups, not forgetting, picking tea, brewing tea and yes, drinking tea!
Dates: May 3rd – 7th
Go Strawberry Picking
Towards the end of winter, beginning of spring, Korean strawberries are at their ripest and finest. Take advantage of the large and super sweet berries by taking a trip to a peaceful strawberry farm and picking your own. It’s an easy day trip from Seoul too, with strawberry farms not far outside the city in Ilsan and Yangpyeong.
Eat like a King
In the past, snow crabs used to be a dish served to Korean royalty. So if you’d like to literally “Eat like a king”, head to the eastern province of Gyeongsangbuk. There are actually two separate snow crab festivals in neighboring counties, Uljin and Yeongdeok both celebrate their local delicacy, the snow crab, with a series of crab-related events. On the crabby (sorry) festival schedules are fishing, sampling, auctions, markets, cooking competitions, performances and local fishing boat rides too.
- Yeongdeok Snow Crab Festival – March 23rd – 26th
- Uljin Snow Crab Festival – March 2nd – 5th
Walk Over a Miracle
The island of Jindo, just off the southwest corner of Korea is the stage for an annual “Miracle”. A Moses-like parting of the sea reveals an almost 3 km long sand road that attracts visitors to walk from from Jindo’s larger main island to a nearby smaller island. The road appears due to the difference between the low and high tides and Miracle Sea Road Festival is held in honor of the occasion and as well as performances and parades, festival-goers can also try scooping up abalone from the sea bed.
Dates: April 26th – 29th
Burn Away Your Bad Luck
The beautiful island of Jeju holds a spectacular fire festival to pray for good harvest and health for the new year. The origins of this fiery tradition comes from farmers burning village pastures to get rid of old grass and kill pests. Folk songs and games take place around the huge fire in the middle and in between scattered flames. The goal of the festival is to burn all of the year’s bad luck, leaving only good luck.
Dates: March 2nd – 5th
See the Cherry Blossoms
While cherry blossoms might be something you’d automatically associate with Japan, Korean springs however, are also blessed with plenty of the beautiful pink and white petaled flora. A couple of the most popular cherry blossom spots in Korea are on Yeouido Island in Seoul and Jinhae-gu, just west of Busan.
Yeouido Island celebrates the season with the Yeouido Spring Flower Festival. In addition to almost 2000 cherry blossom trees, there are also azaleas, forsythia and other seasonal flowers injecting a beautiful burst of color into central Seoul. The nighttime illuminations are equally dazzling and well worth sticking around until sundown for.
The naval port town of Jinhae-gu is the stage of possibly the biggest cherry blossom celebration in the country. During the Gunhangje Festival people come from all over to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy art, performances and of course the cherry blossoms that provide the perfect backdrop. Alongside the Gunhangje Festival, the Jinhae Military Band and Honor Guard Festival takes place at the same time, they join in on the celebrations with military music and parades.