The Lotus Lantern Festival is This Weekend!
Many festivals, concerts and shows have been cancelled or postponed across the country due to the tragic sinking of the Sewol Ferry, but the Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul this weekend will continue on with no doubt an air of hope, cleansing and quiet contemplation. There has been question after question concerning the schedule, where to be and when and if it was even going to continue so, here are some answers for you.
The events will kick off this Saturday, April 26, 2014 at the Dongguk University Stadium with Eoulim Madang, or a Buddhist Cheer Rally. This is where all of the participants in the parade itself get revved up through cheers, dancing and singing to make the trek from there to Jonggak and then dance the night away. This event is open to anyone and you can get a first look at the costumes, props and smaller lanterns that will be in the parade here, however, I wouldn’t suggest staying the whole time as you’ll want to get a good seat on the Jongno strip for the actual parade. Also, the bigger lanterns that have to be pushed are lined up in Dongdaemun where they join in the parade. They are also set up early and you can get a closer look at them in Dongdaemun before the parade starts as well.
If you’re only going to attend part of the festival,the parade is the part to see. It starts at 7:00 with the participants that have just finished in the Cheer Rally at Dongguk University Stadium making their way from there to Dongdaemun, around the corner and then marching down Jongno Street to Jonggak. Along Jongno, from Heunginjimun Gate to Jonggak, seats are set up for viewers, but if you want to get the seats closest to Jonggak, you’ve got to get there at least an hour early. My recommendation is to grab some friends, grab some sandwiches or kimbob and drinks and grab some seats around 6:00 near Jonggak, Jongno 2-ga, Jongno 3-ga, or Jongno 5-ga for the best views of the Hanboks and lotus lanterns.
Once the parade passes you, don’t leave! To wrap up the night in the most festive way possible, Jonggak Intersection becomes a sea of people dancing and singing from 9:30 to 11:00. It is Hoehyang Hanmadang, the Post-Parade Celebration, and volunteers and participants from the parade will be scattered throughout the crowds dancing so that you can follow along. People link up and make long trains that maneuver through the crowds and get tangled up in each other and all the while everyone smiles and dances as confetti is shot above the crowd to fall like lotus petals. It’s beautiful and who doesn’t want to dance with hundreds of other people?
The events aren’t over yet, the next day on Sunday, April 27, 2014 the street in front of Jogyesa Temple from Anguk Station to Jonggak Station will be lined with tents. It is Cultural Experience Day. Visitors can make prints, their own lotus lanterns, strings of Buddhist beads and talk with Buddhists from many different countries. There will be performers along the street and a mini lantern parade will take place in the evening for those that didn’t attend the night before. Also, if you’re looking for some good food while you’re there, head into to the second floor of the TempleStay building, there will be some great vegetarian treats for a small fee.
This is a must see event and I hope you can get out, participate, learn and enjoy the views this weekend.
April 26 & 27, 2014
Check the time-table above for specific times for each event.
Eoulim Madang (Buddhist Cheer Rally): Dongguk University Subway Station (동대입구역), exit 6. Everyone will be going out the same exit, so you can just follow the crowds from here. Out exit 6 walk straight and you’ll see an escalator on your left, go up the escalator, this will lead you up to another street, follow it up and you’ll find the stadium.
Lotus Lantern Parade: Starts at Dongdaemun Station (동대문역), exit 9 or 10. You can find seats from Jongno 5-ga (종로5가) exit 1, 4, 5 or 8 & Jongno 3-ga (종로3가) exit 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, or 15 & Jonggak Station (종각역) exit 3 or 4.
Hoehyang Hanmadang (Post Parade Celebration): Jonggak Station (종각역) exit 3 or 4
Cultural Experience Day in front of Jogyesa Temple: Jonggak Station (종각역) exit 2 or 3-1 OR Anguk Station (안국역) exit 6, walk straight and turn left at the intersection. The road will be blocked off to traffic so it’s easy to spot.
All of the events are free to attend though some tents on Cultural Event Day will require small fees for certain things. Many tents offer free experiences though from painting your own plates or mugs or making block prints so be sure to check the signs.