Moving Through South Korean Festivals: A Yearlong Journey

Diya Nair, Kochi, Kerala

With South Korea being the powerhouse of the Hallyu wave that has swept the world; the spotlight has mostly been thrust upon the music, fashion and the highly intricate K-Dramas while its rich and colourful diverse culture and traditions are mostly overlooked. Read below to find festivals that celebrate the diverse culture of the country.

January – Homigot Sunrise Festival

Starting the New year with watching the first sunrise, the Homigot sunrise festival is a crucial part of new celebrations for South Koreans; it is organized as a symbolic gesture for new year resolutions and one of the activities also includes the releasing of ‘Hope Balloons’ as the wishes for the new year. You can also get a flavour of ‘tteokguk’ (rice cake soup) traditional new year meal after watching the sunrise over the giant hand which reaches up from the sea.

February – Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival

The Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival is another festival that celebrates the country’s beautiful winter. The festival is hosted in February at Taebaeksan National Park, with large-scale snow sculptures serving as the major attraction. Other activities include Taebaeksan Mountain Snowflake Hiking Competition and snow sliding. One of the other unique attractions is the Igloo Café, which serves hot chocolate inside an igloo.

Video Credits: Visit Korea

March – Jindo Sea Parting Festival

In the South Jeolla Province in the south-western region of the country, the sea parts are due to the ‘Moses Miracle’ which is triggered by the tides and people cross it to a nearby island using this strip of land. This anomaly is celebrated at the Jindo Sea Parting Festival. In addition to watching this event, people can enjoy concerts, cuisine, and performances.

Video Credits: Visit Korea

April – Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

The most well-known and beautiful of South Korea’s cherry blossom festivals is Jinhae Gunhangje; the cherry blossoms bloom in two locations in town. Gyeonghwa Station and Yeojwacheon (Romance Bridge) are some places where the festival is celebrated and with exhibits of cherry blossoms as trains travel past. drinks and snacks which are inspired by cherry blossoms are also served.

May – Lotus Lantern Festival

The yearly Lotus Lantern Festival held at Yeon Deung Hoe, which translates to “lantern-lighting ceremony” is conducted annually during Buddha’s Birthday celebrations; staggering parades take place from Dongdaemun Gate to Jogyesa Temple. Buddhist monks and community members carry spectacular lantern displays of animated tigers and dragons along the road making it the most aesthetically attractive customs.

June – Gangneung Danoje Festival

Gangneung Danoje or Dano is a day which signifies the end of the sowing season and sky deities are revered as a form of thanks. A variety of rice cakes (tteok), including those made with local herbs like surichi and ssuk (mugwort). Traditional wrestling such as ssireum and daekkyon for men and folk games like swinging for women are played. Historically, Sweet Flag Changpo water is used by women to wash their hair and gunggungee flowers are placed in the hair to make it lustrous to ward off evil spirits.

Picture Credits: UNESCO

July – Boryeong Mud Festival

Every year millions of people flock to Daecheon Beach for ten days of music, dancing, mud wrestling, mud skiing and mud pools. The festival began as a way to promote the health advantages of mineral-rich mud from the Boryeong mud flats, which contains naturally occurring bentonites and germaniums and has now evolved into a popular spot for locals and foreigners alike.

Picture Credits: UNESCO

August – Muju Firefly Festival

Thousands of fireflies fill the summer night sky with their lovely natural glow above the hilly hamlet of Muju in North Jeolla Province. The residents celebrate the presence of fireflies in the area because it is believed that fireflies only stay in places that are clean and in a nonpareil environment. The celebration promotes environmental awareness with the inclusion of street food, souvenir booths and entertainment.

Picture Credits: firefly.or.kr

September – Andong Mask- Dance Festival

Haehoe Folk Village in Andong, eastern Korea hosts thousands of people who travel to see the Andong Mask Festival every September. Masks have a long history in Korea and these centuries-old performances called talchum (masked dances) are showcased in Andong. “Seonyujul Bulnori,” an attraction where fireworks rain down, making stunning reflections on the river are also equally enjoyed by the people.

Picture Credits: Korea Tourism Organization

October – Jinju Lantern Festival

South Korea’s oldest and most popular lantern festival is the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival; drawing visitors to see the spectacular displays of paper lanterns floating on the Namgang River. The lanterns come in a variety of shapes, colours and sizes and are reminiscent of those that were lit during the Imjinwaeran War’s Jinjuseong Fortress Battle in 1592. With floating lanterns, a torch-lit procession and fireworks, it’s a truly stunning festival.

Picture Credits: Visit Korea

November – Seoul Lantern Festival

Every fall, the colourful Seoul Lantern Festival takes place at Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon Stream. It features a variety of lantern sculptures that are organised around a theme that changes every year. Thousands of intricately decorated lanterns are put along the stream with themed regions for onlookers to see from Autumn through Winter; cultural activities, games, and lantern-making workshops are also organized.

Picture Credits: Wikipedia

December – Herb Island Light Festival

Pocheon Herb Island is a Mediterranean-themed herb museum and botanical garden in the scenic highlands of Gyeonggi-do. As the sun sets, the island transforms into a sea of LED lights that illuminate the entire park. From pink wish tunnels to European-style Christmas Market and Santa’s Village, so the atmosphere is lovely.

Picture Credits: Visit Korea

Tell us in the comments which of these festivals would you like to attend?

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Jubby Kumar says:

    This article was insightful!
    Save it and you won’t miss any important festival of Korea!
    I would love to attend the herb island light festival during Christmas 🌲 and also Cherry Blossoms and Lantern festival!

  2. Being an Indian, we are always thrilled and excited about festivals. Reading about this yearlong festivals of Korea, it totally intrigued my thoughts. And the festivals i would personally like to attend are Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival, Lotus Lantern Festival, Muju Firefly Festival, Andong Mask- Dance Festival, Jinju Lantern Festival, Seoul Lantern Festival and Herb Island Light Festival.

  3. Moumita Mondal says:

    Woww wanna attend all this festivals once in my life♥️

  4. Tirna says:

    I got to know so much about Korean festivals. It’s always a pleasure reading about how South Korea celebrates its festivals, and the rituals they follow. This article further gave me knowledge about Korean festivals. ❤️ if given a chance I would like to attend Lotus Lantern Festival and Cherry Blossom Festival.

  5. Mamoni says:

    I like all of them but the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival🌸😍

  6. anishanath says:

    Just like India South Korea is also filled with so many beautiful festivals which citizens of Korea can enjoy throughout the year. This article is so detailed and informative.

  7. All these festivals sound so beautiful🥺🧡 I would love to attend all of them😍

  8. Sonali Singh says:

    Got to know so much about Korean culture, I wish I can see, feel and experience all the festivals in korea

  9. Sunanda ghosh says:

    Wahhhhh…. Nice…. I love festivals nd koreans festivals I have seen in dramas only… So i really wanna attend…..

  10. DJ says:

    Woah 🤩🤩 ,I would love to attend all festival 💜💜💜

  11. AYUSHI VERMA says:

    I would love to attend all festival 💗💗 thankyou for such lovely article 💜

  12. Drishti Belkhede says:

    Beautiful

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