Ten Great Festivals to Find in Korea This Summer!
Summer is definitely upon the peninsula and with that comes loads of things to get out and about for and participate in. Here they are: the top 10 festivals this summer you shouldn’t miss, ordered by date.
1. Haeundae Sand Festival (June 7-9)
It’s not really summer until it’s time to play in the sand and swim in the ocean, is it? As one of the most popular beach destinations in the country, this is the perfect place to kick off the summer season and with a sand festival no less. This festival includes a hot sand bath, beach volleyball competitions, a fireworks display, concerts and many more fun events on the beach.
From Busan Station, take bus 1003 and get off at Haeundae Beach, or take the subway to Haeundae Beach Station and take exit 3 or 5.
2. The Gangneung Danoje Festival (June 9-16)
For those people that hope to attend a more cultural event, there is the Gangneung Danoje Festival. This festival serves to preserve the folk culture from the Joseon Dynasty and was designated a ‘Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO in 2005. There are folk performances, traditional Korean games and sports and the opportunity to witness a traditional wedding ceremony as well as make rice cake and other items to take home.
From Seoul Express Bus Terminal or Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, catch a bus to Gangneung Bus Terminal. They leave every 20-30 minutes. From Gangneung Terminal take a taxi to the festival grounds at Danojang.
3. The Gwangju Toechon Tomato Festival (June 21-23)
Townie festivals based around food are my favorite and this one is sure to make anyone’s taste buds water. Toechon has been growing tomatoes since the 70s and offers up the goods at a 30% discount during the festival. One can harvest their own tomatoes, make chili pepper paste and even swim in a pool of tomatoes. For anyone that enjoys a good tomato, this is the Korean festival for you!
Take an intercity bus 13-2 from Gangbyeon Station Exit 1. Get off at Toechon Nonghyeop (1hr40m) and transfer to bus 38-4 and get off at Jeongji 2-ri and follow the signs.
4. The Buyeo Seodong Lotus Festival (July 18-21)
The flowers haven’t stopped blooming yet. If you missed one of the many cherry blossom festivals around the country to celebrate the coming of spring, not to worry, you can still celebrate summer with some floral festivities. This festival not only celebrates the lotus flowers but also focuses on the importance of preservation of wild flowers. You can make paper lotus flowers, lotus flower soap among other hands on experiences. A great weekend away spot.
From Seoul Nambu Bus Terminal, catch an intercity bus to Buyeo (6:30AM-7:20PM; 40 min. intervals) takes about 2 hours. From the Buyeo Terminal, take a taxi to Gungnamji (1.5km).
5. Boryeong Mud Festival (July 19-28)
This festival is always a big hit with the foreigners in Korea and really doesn’t need too much explaining. The purported benefits of a good soak in the mud are most likely not the reason most people head to this beach, but let’s just say they are. There is mud wrestling, mud sliding and swimming in, you guessed it, mud. If you wanted a reason to get down and dirty this summer, this is the place to do it!
From Seoul Central Bus Terminal take an express bus to Boryeong. Once there, catch a bus to Daecheon Beach, OR take a train from Yongsan Station/ Yeongdeungpo Station and get off at Daecheon Station and take a local bus to the beach.
6. The 17th Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival (July 23-28)
If the heat and the sun don’t beckon you outside and you’d rather stay indoors in the dark, aka a movie theatre, this is the event for you! This is one of the five major animated film festivals in the world and is right in our backyard. Tickets are W5,000 for adults with special events at W10,000. Online reservations can be made through CGV, Ani-Cinema and Max Movie from July 13-24 as well as be purchased in person at CGV Myeongdong or Seoul Ani-Cinema during that same time period.
Samseong Station on Seoul Subway Line 2, exit 5 or 6.
7. The Ansan Valley Rock Festival (July 26-28)
So far the line-up includes: The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Coheed and Cambria, Fun., DIIV, Polyphonic Spree, Vampire Weekend, WHOwho, Skrillex, My Bloody Valentine, Achime, Galaxy Express, Hologram Film, #1 Korean, Pia, Foals, Common Ground, Hurts, Idiotape, Steve Vai, Yellowcard, and Romantic Punch + many more. Need I say more?
Shuttles are provided from multiple places in Seoul. Check out their website for more info.
8. The Busan Sea Festival (August 1-9)
Held at various beaches across Busan, this festival sports everything from sand castles to fireworks. This festival encompasses the Busan International Rock Festival, the Busan International Dance Festival, the Korean Sea Literature Festival and about 30 other small festivals to make this one huge festival taking place all over the city of Busan. There is definitely something for everyone at this huge festival in the south.
Where: Haeundae Beach, Gwangalli Beach, Songdo Beach and Songjeong Beach.
9. The Hamyang Wild Ginseng Festival (August 1-5)
You can’t come to Korea and not have ginseng candy, ginseng juice, or just plain ginseng handed to you at some point to eat. The Hamyang area is known for its high quality wild ginseng and other herbs. This festival is the opportunity to learn about some healthy alternatives to medicine as well as have fun with a fireworks show, flower pot making, ginseng liquor and rice cake making among other programs. As the area is also home to Jirisan and Deogyusan mountain, it could be a great weekend to get away to the festival and enjoy a good hike.
From Dong Seoul Bus Terminal or Nambu Terminal, take an intercity bus to Hamyang. Buses don’t run often from either location, so check times. From Hamyang Terminal, take a taxi to the festival venue at Sangnim Park.
10. Pentaport Rock Festival (August 2-4)
Currently lined-up: Suede, Fall Out Boy, Blood Red Shoes, Gogo Star, Mamas Gun, Man With a Mission, Monkees, Peter Pan Complex, Romantic Punch, Skid Row, Story of the Year, SteelHeart, Testament, Wiretap In My Ear, Windy City, YB and Yellow Monsters + more to come. Check out their website for more info.
Incheon Subway Line 1, Campus Town Station, Exit 3. From the bus stop next to the subway elevator take bus 92 to Canal Walk (13 stops). From the stop, go right towards the intersection, cross the road and go straight until you hit the site. Follow the crowds.
There’s definitely plenty to get involved in this summer, whether it’s any of these festivals or other events around the country, summer is here and it’s time to start enjoying it.
On a personal note, I know there are loads of townie festivals around the country that don’t seem to get all of the posters and attention. If you know of any, please let me know about them! I know there’s a watermelon festival, but I don’t know where it is. The townie ones are my favorite, any information would be appreciated.