Something… or a few things to look forward to this spring.
The start of the warmer weather in March always makes me itchy with excitement. Well, that could be itchy with allergies due to pollen, but we’ll say it’s excitement so it sounds more positive. Winter festivals are always a bit of hit or miss for me. I want to go but then I walk out my door and realize my parka will only keep me warm for about an hour in those negative temps and then I run back in before I can see anything. But, the spring, on the other hand, is warm enough for me to stand outside for longer and at this point I really just want to get back out of my house, it’s got that been inside all winter dusty smell that really needs a good spring cleaning with windows open to get rid of. For those reasons here is a list of the upcoming festivals to keep an eye out for, and so I don’t forget in the pollen frenzied excitement to go:
My Top 10 List in order of date:
1. Gurye Sansuyu Festival (March 17 – March 20)
In spring the sansuyu trees, Japanese dogwood trees, start blooming. Those pretty yellow flowered trees you see pop up all over the mountains here. This festival is held in Sangwi village in the foothills of Mt. Jirisan. Just the fact that this is near Mt. Jirisan makes it a must go so you can catch a fest and do some great hiking all in one weekend. These flowers are made into tea, alcohol and other food that you can taste at the fest. After you do some hiking the Jirisan Hot Springs area is also near by to relax with some friends.
Gurye Sansuyu Festival English
Reasons to go: Hiking, Hot Springs, Flowers made into edibles
2. Jindo Sea Parting Festival (March 19 – March 21)
This one has been on my ‘want to go to list’ every year for the past four, however, due to tides and weather always causing it to be mid-week when I was working I haven’t been able to go yet. This year is the year for people with jobs since it falls on the weekend finally! If you feel like going a bit further south than Gurye, this is the place to go and the sight to see, so I hear. In Jindo, in Jeollanam-do, the sea parts and you can walk from the mainland to an island once a year and they’ve made a festival out of it, why not?
Jindo Sea Parting Festival English
Reasons to go: Sea, Sea parting phenom, the SEA!
3. Jinhae Gunhangje Festival (April 1 – April 10)
This is just one example of the many cherry blossom festivals that will be happening around the country of Korea this spring. In Jinhae they have the largest of the festivals, they say when the wind blows the cherry blossom petals fall like rain. If you can’t get out of the city of Seoul not to worry there are plenty of cherry blossom trees on Yeouido Island. If you can get out, head to Jinhae for some great photos.
Jinhae Gunhangje Festival English
Reasons to go: cherry blossoms falling like rain
4. Nonsan Strawberry Festival (April 8 – April 10)
As someone who hails from the state of Ohio where we also hold a strawberry festival each year this one is near and dear to my heart. Nonsan is Korea’s largest strawberry producing region. If the rabbits haven’t found it like they always found my garden you’ll be in luck to get some great big juicy strawberries. You can go and pick as many strawberries as your baskets and bellies can hold as well as being able to sample the strawberry edibles the residents make. It’s only an hour and half from Seoul making it another reason this would be a great one day away from the city festival to attend.
Nonsan Strawberry Festival
Reasons to go: Strawberries, distance from Seoul
5. Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival (April 13 – April 17)
As mentioned earlier, if you can’t get out of Seoul to hit some big cherry blossom hot spots there’s always Yeoido to depend on. With an opening parade and street performances having it in our back yard, yes I live in Seoul, is pleasant.
Yeoido Cherry Blossom Festival
Reasons to go: In your backyard (probably), spring flowers everywhere
6. Gwangalli Eobang Festival (April 22 – April 24)
If you haven’t made it to Busan yet here is your chance. This festival celebrates the spirit of the fishermen in the coastal regions of Korea. You can try bare-hand fishing, show your skills at the cooking contest or just hang out on one of the many beaches and find a good restaurant to eat some fish in. Choose any one and it’s worth it. The trip down to Busan on the KTX isn’t so bad either. As someone who tries to go down to Busan for some reason or another at least 3 times a year this is a good enough one for me.
Gwangalli Eobang Festival
Reasons to go: Busan, Beaches, Sea, Fish
7. Damyan Bamboo Festival (April 30 – May 5)
In a 2.4 kilometer bamboo forest you can take part in activities such as log rafting and water bicycling. There will be a fair, music performances, bamboo cutting and a sword competition. You can make bamboo liquor, ride a bamboo raft and go fishing. Once you fill yourself with enough bamboo sightings to last the year you can head to some of the surrounding attractions. I added this one as some of my friends were really hoping to see some bamboo while they are here. Here’s your chance friends.
Damyan Bamboo Festival
Reasons to go: Bamboo, Bamboo Rafting, Bamboo liquor making, and more Bamboo stuff
8. Lotus Lantern Festival (May 6 – May 8)
Someone never to be missed if you live in Seoul. I have gone to this festival every year that I’ve lived here and every year it’s gotten bigger and better and I’ve partaken in more activities and events. To commemorate the birth of Buddha this festival allows you the chance to talk to Buddhists, read books, make your own lotus lantern, big or small, make stamps and boxes and all kinds of hands on activities which they’re always adding more of. It starts off with a lighting ceremony and over the weekend you can attend to make your stuff and meet people. At the end, the part which always lights my burner there is a huge parade with lanterns and floats to light up the dark skies. People line the streets climb up on top of the subway overhangs to sit and watch the magnificent sights. This is a must see if you’re around.
Lotus Lantern Festival
Reasons to go: Making your own Lotus Lantern, Learning about Buddhism, Parade of Lights
9. DJ Festival (May 6 – May 8)
The same weekend as the Lotus Lantern Festival, unfortunately, is the DJ Festival. Both are amazing experiences, so choosing may be difficult. This is the first time they’ve been on the same weekend to my knowledge. I’ve also gone to this one every year that I’ve been here as it started the first year I came here and they’ve never overlapped for me before. If I had to make a suggestion I’d say hit up the DJ Festival on Saturday and head to the Lotus Lantern festival for the parade of lights on Sunday.
This fest has only gotten bigger and better since the first year. It’s also gotten more and more expensive. If you’re reading this and just hearing about it now get online and request your ticket early. If you get it now it’s only about W30,000. If you wait until the day it’s W55,000. This outdoor event set on the Han River with three stages allows for some great fun. Check the website for whos coming and more info. I can’t say enough about this one.
Reasons to go: Live Music, Outdoors on the Han River, Massive amounts of people ready for a party
10. 2011 Hi Seoul Festival (May 5 – May 10)
This festival happens twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. I can’t really tell you what to expect as you’ll just have to get online and check out the events. They have things happeing all around the city from performances to music to activities, you name it. The website has me a little mystified as it hasn’t been updated yet but be sure to keep checking back.
Hi Seoul Festival
Reasons to go: Nearby, Free, Mind Broadening