Discover Korea through its festivals!
Aside from its super addictive K-Drama series, KPop music and mouthwatering cuisine, there’s one other thing that South Korea does really well, which is festivals! Spanning from cultural, to entertainment and celebration festivals – there’s bound to be one that entices you.
Festivals in Korea are not just fun and entertainment; they also serve as an exciting way to immerse yourself in the local culture. With so many festivals taking place all year round, here’s a list of top festivals you should definitely check out the next time you’re in Korea!
1. Catch your own trout at the bizarre Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival
Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors brave the sub-zero temperatures to participate in trout ice fishing in the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival. Held on a frozen river in Gangwon Province, festival goers drop their fishing lines into the ice drilled with holes, and wait patiently for their catch.
As a way to celebrate their catch, participants bite into the head of the trout! Visitors who are brave can also try catching the fish with their bare hands.
This is one of Korea’s most popular winter festivals and features other winter activities aside from ice fishing. Other features include ice sled, bobsled, ice soccer, snowmen-building, and snow tunnels and slides.
2. Let loose and dance in mud at the Boryeong Mud Festival
Held at Daecheon Beach annually, close to half a million visitors flock to the annual Boryeong Mud Festival to dance, wrestle, slide and roll around in mud. This festival is so popular it’s become an international sensation in recent years attracting revellers from all over the world!
Started in the 90s as a way to promote the health benefits of mineral-rich mud, the interest for the festival was different from what it is today. It now includes other activities like mud wrestling, “mud king” contest, fireworks, and mega slides greased with mud. After the sun sets, the fun continues with a concert by the hottest KPop artists!
3. Play with fire at the Jeju Fire Festival
As part of a 3-day festival from late February to early March every year, a hill in Jeju city (Saebyeol Oreum) is set ablaze to welcome good health and a good harvest for the new year. It symbolises the ancient tradition of burning old grass to get rid of vermin before the new planting season.
Aside from the magnificent spectacle of the fire, the Jeju Fire Festival has other activities like folk games, torch marching, special performances and more. An impressive display of fireworks is also held to mark the end of the festival. What makes the festival even more special is the beautiful, natural landscape and scenery that surrounds Jeju Island.
4. Watch colourful explosions in the sky at the Busan Fireworks Festival
Garnering a million visitors every year, the Busan Fireworks Festival is a sight to behold! Every October, the sky along Gwangalli Beach is lit up with a breathtaking display of fireworks and pyrotechnics accompanied by music. There’s nothing quite like witnessing colours explode and scatter in the sky in perfect arrangement by famous fireworks companies.
Before the fireworks show, you can enjoy a cultural roadshow that includes mimes, magic and bubbles. As a teaser to the final display, there’s also a fireworks rehearsal and a special performance of pyrotechnic display by Parente Fireworks Italy.
5. Write down your wishes at the Jinju Lantern Festival
Vibrant, lit lanterns of various shapes, sizes and colours line up the Nam River for a stunning water display in the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival. On the river bank also are over ten thousands of red lanterns carrying personal wishes of local residents.
With a history dating back to 1592, the Jinju Lantern Festival originated from the custom of lighting lanterns to prevent Japanese troops from wading the Namgang River during the Japanese invasion. The festival also features the lighting of lanterns in remembrance of the Jinjuseong Fortress Battle veterans.
Besides that, you can enjoy an evening stroll, admiring the street parades and performances, grabbing a bite from one of the many street food vendors. There are also other activities like making your own lantern and writing your wishes to hang it up in the Tunnel of Wish Lanterns.
6. Get your breath taken away at the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival
Spring in Korea welcomes cool air and blankets of pastel blossoms spreading around the country. One of the more prominent spring festivals is the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival, which features two popular sites, Yeojwacheon (Romance Bridge) and Gyeonghwa Station.
Recreate your own Korean TV drama moment at the Romance Bridge, featured in the “Romance” K-Drama. The breathtaking scenery at Gyeonghwa Station is also one to witness in person. Watch as the train passes by, transforming the thousands of cherry blossom petals into pink snow.
Aside from the lovely view of the sights of the cherry blossom, there are also other events in the festival like cultural and military performances. You can also find food vendors selling all sorts of street food.
7. Make your own kimchi at the Gwangju World Culture Kimchi Festival
One does not go to Korea and not eat kimchi! Unsurprisingly, there’s a festival dedicated to all things kimchi. Held in Gwangju, the Gwangju World Culture Kimchi Festival features programmes like kimchi making, an art gallery, cooking experience, and other special performances.
The festival also has a Kimchi Master Competition and an extensive kimchi market where you can try and purchase a variety of kimchi. If this isn’t the place to get the best kimchi in the world, we don’t know where is!
8. Party and dance like never before at Ultra Korea
Aside from cultural festivals, Korea also does a killer EDM festival! Every June, top EDM artists from around the world gather in Seoul to throw the biggest party in the country for a couple of heart-pumping days.
As the first music festival in Asia, Ultra Korea is still dominating the scene with an exciting line-up each year. In the past, EDM artists like Dash Berlin, Tiesto, Avicii, David Guetta, Snoop Dogg, MIA, Skrillex and more have taken the stage in Ultra Korea!
9. Kickstart the new year right at the Seongsan Sunrise Festival
To welcome the first day of the year, spectators of the Seongsan Sunrise Festival hike up Jeju’s famous lookout point, Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, to witness the first sunrise of the new year. Also known as Sunrise peak, it’s also a UNESCO World Nature Heritage Site and boasts an incredible view, hence attracting visitors all year round.
The festivities begin on a day before New Year’s Eve with a nature tour and other events. It’s followed by a torch relay, performances by local artists, countdown and fireworks show at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Then, before the dawn of the new year, the hike to Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak begins. The festival symbolises good wishes and prosperity in the new year. It also serves as a way to promote Jeju Island’s Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak.
10. Get your dose of KPop fandom fever at the Busan One Asia Festival
Fellow KPop fans, the Busan One Asia Festival is your dream come true! It will feature artists like A Pink, ASTRO, B.A.P, GOT7, SF9, NU’EST W, Momoland, Black Pink, iKON, G-Friend, Wanna One and Sechskies.
Kicking off on 22 October 2017 with the opening ceremony, the festival will run for 10 consecutive days throughout the Busan area. As Asia’s top Hallyu (Korean Wave) festival, the star-studded lineup for the opening ceremony alone is worth a visit to Busan.
Plus, if you purchase a combo package from Klook, you can also visit other top attractions and festivals in the beautiful coastal city of Busan. Besides that, you can also access the Klook exclusive standing zone at BOF Busan One Asia Festival Opening Ceremony!
Having fun is good for the Seoul!
Join in the excitement and you’ll understand the love that Koreans have for their festivals. Besides that, whether you’re in Seoul, Jeju or Busan, there is plenty to see and do! To make your trip even smoother, make sure to book yourself an airport transfer and WiFi device from Klook.