Spring is coming! Spring is coming! As the end of winter approaches and people across the country start to shed their many warm layers in favor of lighter brightly colored pieces of clothing, the streets start to fill up with everyone who had hidden away and the search begins for outdoor events to enjoy. There are certainly plenty of things to see from flowers blooming to miraculous seas parting. Where will you go this spring?
*Some dates have been updated to reflect the cancellations and postponements due to the tragic sinking of the Sewol Ferry. If there has been no updated date, the festival is slated to continue as planned. Update is as of April 23, 2014.
1. Gurye Sansuyu Festival 구례산수유축제
March 22, 2014 – March 30, 2014
The beautiful yellow Sansuyu, or Japanese Dogwood, flowers blanket the Jirisan mountain range and visitors to the area in the spring can partake in sansuyu makkoli tasting while watching traditional dances, rites and musical performances. If Gurye is a bit too far for you, there is a smaller, but no less fun, Sansuyu Festival in Icheon. Try some sansuyu pancakes, makkoli and soup and play some traditional Korean games with a beautiful yellow backdrop.
To Gurye: Take an intercity bus to Gurye Terminal and from there catch a bus to Jungdong (중동). There are many buses that depart to this location so take your pick.
To Icheon: From Dong Seoul Bus Terminal take an intercity bus to Icheon Terminals. Buses run from 6:10AM – 11:00PM in 20-40 minute intervals and the trip takes an hour. From Icheon Terminal there are free shuttle buses outside of the terminal and to the right in front of the Grand Wedding Hall.
2. Jindo Miracle Sea Road 진도 신비의 바닷 축제
March 30, 2014 – April 2, 2014
This is not the festival for those looking for an easy weekend getaway but for those that choose the trek, it is definitely worth it. Set down in the southwest corner of the country, Jindo offers up a spectacular event centered on what some call a miracle akin to the Moses sea parting. The waves part and on the muddy road that connects the mainland to an island 2.8 kilometers off the coast spectators don thigh high galoshes and head out to scrounge for shellfish, find star fish and just enjoy the generally awesome event. Concerts and good eats on the shore keep visitors busy while the path is wet.
Take a bus to Jindo from Central City Express Bus Terminal, there are only 4 per day at 7:35AM, 9:00AM, 3:30PM and 4:35PM and the trip takes 5 hours and 40 minutes.
3. Cherry Blossom Festivals
Spring would not be complete without cherry blossom festivals and there is sure to be one near you. Here are just a few, find the nearest one near you! Not all of the dates have been listed for these yet, but expect to see these flowers blooming in April.
Jinhae Gunhangje Festival (April 1, 2014 – April 10, 2014): This is the largest cherry blossom festival in the country and not only celebrates the blossoming of spring but also celebrates the Admiral Yi Sun Shin.
Take and intercity bus to Jinhae and from the terminal, follow the millions of people. OR take a train to Jinhae Station and walk/ follow the people to the festival venue.
Hwagae Cherry Blossom Festival : ‘The 10ri Cherry Blossom Road’ is the draw for this festival. 10 ri equals approximately 4.5 kilometers of cherry blossoms to enjoy and it is said if lovers walk down this road holding hands they will live happily together forever.
From Nambu Bus Terminal take a bus to Hadong at 6:30AM, 8:00AM, 9:30AM, 11:30AM, 1:30PM, 3:30PM, 5:30PM, 7:30PM or 10:00PM and get off at Hwagae Terminal.
Gyeongpo Cherry Blossom Festival : Gyeongpo has a 4.3 kilometer long walk around a gorgeous lake that is lined with cherry blossoms and that’s not the only thing worth a visit, the beach that sits just beyond the lake is gorgeous as well. There are various cultural events and flower exhibitions and if there’s extra time a pretty nice gramaphone museum nearby.
Take an intercity bus to Gangneung and outside the station catch bus 202 to Gyeongpodae.
Hangang Yeouido Spring Flower Festival: If you have no time to get out of the city, a popular place to head to welcome the spring with cherry blossom festivals is Yeouido. Around 1,500 cherry blossom trees bloom and the roads are blocked to traffic to allow visitors full access. An added bonus is that these flowers are lit up at night, so enjoy the flowers from day into night this spring.
Access via the Seoul Subway: Dangsan Station exit 4, Yeouinaru Station exit 1, Yeouido Station exit 5 or National Assembly Station exit 1 or 6.
4. Nonsan Strawberry Festival 논산딸기축제
April 2, 2014 – April 6, 2014
Who doesn’t like filling their bellies with delicious strawberries? The Nonsan Strawberry festival is the place to do that and more. Sculptures of strawberries and strawberry displays greet visitors to fair grounds where they can buy strawberry jams, strawberry hot sauce, strawberry pancakes and many more delicious strawberry delicacies as well as partake in mask making, painting and more, but the highlight by far is hopping aboard one of the shuttle buses and heading out to the strawberry fields where you can pick and eat strawberries to your bellies content.
Catch an intercity bus from Seoul Express Bus Terminal. They run every 40 minutes from 6:30AM to 11:45PM. Once there, follow the crowds and the balloons lining the street, it’s a short walk, or catch a local bus 515, 516, 601, 701 or 712 to Daegyodong (대교동).
5. Gijisi Juldarigi Festival 기지시 줄다리기축제
April 10, 2014 – April 13, 2014
Have you ever wanted to participate in a massive tug-of-war? If your answer is yes then you should head to Dangjin this spring. From February 1st of the Lunar calendar the rope for the festivities begins to be spun from straw. The main rope measures in at 200 meters in length and 1.8cm in diameter and weighs up to 40 tons. When I said massive, I meant it! Anyone can take part in this festival that wishes for a good harvest and prosperity
From Seoul Central City Bus Terminal catch a bus to Dangjin and get off at Gijisi (1 hour 40 minutes) and take a taxi from there to the festival grounds.
6. Gwangalli Eobang Festival 광안리 어방축제
April 25, 2014 – April 27, 2014 (Update as of April 23, 2014: Postponed indefinitely)
Not that you need an excuse to head down to Busan, but if you want a fun festival while you’re there, here’s one. The Gwangalli Eobang Festival celebrates the coming of spring and the ocean with bare-hand fishing, cooking contests and lots of good food to eat. Be sure to visit the nearby fish market where you can choose your own fish to eat for dinner and then head back to the beach to watch the bridges light up the night sky.
Busan: Gwangan Station exit 3 or 5 and walk straight until you get to the beach.
7. Lotus Lantern Festival 연등회 연등축제
April 26,2014 – April 27, 2014
It is one of the biggest and most colorful festivals in Seoul and it’s a draw for Koreans and foreigners alike. The festival is in celebration of the Buddha’s birth and the celebration includes a massive parade, opportunities to make a lantern of your very own, a dance party in the street, traditional music and experience tents to make boxes, Buddhist prints and more. This is a highlight of the year and should NOT be missed. Be sure to sign up for larger lantern making opportunities early!
The street festival is on the street outside of Jogyesa temple and can be accessed via Seoul subway stations: Jonggak Station exit 2 and Anguk Station exit 6. The parade runs from Dongguk University to Jogyesa Temple and can be seen along Jongno. Check their site for specific information.
8. Damyang Bamboo Festival 대나무축제
May 1, 2014 – May 6, 2014 (Update as of April 23, 2014: Postponed to June 27, 2014 – June 30, 2014)
A 2.4 kilometer bamboo forest becomes the backdrop for a festival full of things to do from river sports such as log rafting and water bicycling to playing in a bamboo musical instrument contest, a bamboo cutting sword championship and more. Visitors will also be able to try some of Damyang’s cuisine and while in the area it wouldn’t be a bad time to see some other sites in the area such as Damyang Soswaewon, Damyang Gwanbangjerim and Metasequoia.
Take a train from Yongsan Station to Gwangju Station, the KTX and Saemaeul train lines run throughout the day in 25 minute intervals. From Gwangju Station take bus 311 to Juknokwon. OR take a bus from Central City Bus Terminal to Damyang and from there cross the road and catch a bus to Bongsan-Damyang and get off at Juknokwon.
9. Boseong Green Tea Festival 보성 녹차대축제
May 2, 2014 – May 6, 2014
The largest green tea producer in the country has a festival celebrating just that. Green tea fields are sprawling and visitors can pick leaves, make tea and eat a variety of green tea delights. There will be traditional performances and tea ceremonies as well as music concerts and tea exhibitions to fill your time in Boseong. With or without a festival, this is a must visit in Korea.
From Seoul catch a bus from Express Bus Terminal to Gwangju, they depart every 15 minutes or so. From Gwangju U-Square Bus Terminal catch a bus to Boseong, they depart every 40 minutes and from there take a bus to Daehan Dawon.
10. Chuncheon International Mime Festival 춘천 국제마임축제
May 25, 2014 – June 1, 2014
This festival that takes place just a hop, skip and a jump outside of Seoul is eight days of performances by Korean and international teams. There is not only miming, but also music, dance, installation art and short films for the enjoying pleasure of visitors. This festival is the perfect way to head into the summer music and art festival fun that is sure to come.
Take the subway out to Namchuncheon Station and take exit 1. Outside take bus 9 to Yaksa Apartment
*All pictures on this article are either mine or from the sites linked to.