The Lotus Lantern Festival: Event Guide

The Lotus Lantern Festival in celebration of Buddha’s birthday is coming up this weekend and oh is it a sight to behold.Seoul, Korea: Lotus Lantern Festival

The festival takes place over a few days with events around downtown Seoul from morning into the eve. Lanterns have been strung up around the city in anticipation of the event and then over 100,000 more lanterns will be lit and paraded down the road from Dongguk University to Gwanghwamun Square. Lotus lanterns, elephants, dragons and more will be marched down the road to culminate in a dance party in the streets. Make your plans now and use this nifty guide to do it:

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Seoul, Korea: Lotus Lantern Festival 2013,

Eoulim Madang

Seoul, Korea: Lotus Lantern FestivalAs the first event of the festivities, the Eoulim Madang is all about getting people movin’ and groovin’ and ready for a good time… and a long walk. All of the participants in the parade gather together at Dongguk University Stadium in their Hanboks and other traditional garb, gather their lanterns and dance, sing and pray to get into the spirit of celebrating Buddha’s birthday. Spectators are welcome and may even pick up a free lantern, but if you want to get the best seats for the parade, you’ll want to make a mad dash from the stadium down to Jonggak before the end of the stadium festivities. Seeing the Eoulim Madang is a fantastic way to really get into the spirit of the event with everyone though.

Where: Dongguk University Stadium, (Dongguk University Station, Line 2, Exit 6)

When: April 29, 2017 from 4:30pm ~ 6:00pm

Lantern Parade

Seoul, Korea: Lotus Lantern FestivalIn the past, around 300,000 people have gathered together to witness the beauty that is the Lantern Parade. With over 100,000 lanterns to see in all shapes and sizes from the traditional lotus flowers to the long dragon and large elephants and fire breathing peacocks, there are some sights to enjoy, not to mention the beautiful and colorful Hanboks groups will be wearing. Though the parade starts in Dongdaemun, the most popular place to grab the free seats that will be placed along the route is closer to Jonggak Station. People start filling up the seats 30-60 minutes in advance near the end of the route so grab some friends, get some drinks and get there early. That said, sitting near the beginning near Dongdaemun/Jongno 1-ga means you’ll get to see all of the lanterns and Hanboks while there is still daylight. Really, there’s no bad seat along the route.

Where: From Dongdaemun down to Jonggak

Transport: Dongdaemun Station (Line 1, Exit 9 & 10), Jongno 5-ga Station (Line 1,  Exit 1, 4, 5 & 8), Jongno 3-ga Station (Line 1, 3 and 5, every exit), Jonggak Station (Line 1, every exit).

When: April 29, 2017 from 7:00pm ~ 9:30pm

Hoehyang Hanmadang

Seoul, Korea: Lotus Lantern Festival 2013, confettiAfter the parade, though some people head home, the participants in the parade will gather together to fill Jonggak Sageori (the intersection just outside of Jonggak Subway Station), and dance for another couple of hours. Dancers on stage will show you the steps so you can jump on in too. People link hands to shoulders and massive snages zig-zag through the crowds. There’s laughing, dancing and singing until an explosion of confetti falls overhead. This is a merry event to experience and there is NO way you will want to be there without jumping in and shaking your groove thang.

Where: Gwanghwamun Plaza, Gwanghwamun Station (Line 5, Exit 2, 3, 4 & 7)

When: April 29, 2017 from 9:30pm ~ 11:00pm

Traditional Culture Events Day

Seoul, Korea: Lotus Lantern FestivalTents line the street in front of Jogyesa temple and visitors can paint, glue and stamp a variety of Korean Buddhist crafts either for free or a very minimal cost that covers the material costs. You can make lotus lanterns, Buddhist prayer bead bracelets, traditional dolls, paint bowls and plates and stamp prints of Buddhist images. You can visit tents with Buddhists from not only Korea but visiting Buddhists from other countries that will answer questions and showcase their own specific and unique cultural Buddhist rites.

Where: In front of Jogyesa Temple, Jonggak Station (Line 1, Exit 2) and Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 6)

When: April 30, 2017 from 12:00pm ~ 7:00pm


Seoul, Korea: Lotus Lantern Festival 2013To finish off the entire event, a mini parade heads around the block from Jogyesa temple, down Insa-dong’s main drag and back to the temple to culminate in a final celebration with dancing and music. It’s a beautiful and more intimate event than the night previous and a great way to end the entire weekend celebrating the birth of Buddha. If you only want to spend one day downtown, go Sunday to partake in some crafts and the street party AND you can still witness a nice, though smaller, lotus lantern parade and concert.

Where: In front of Jogyesa Temple, Jonggak Station (Line 1, Exit 2) and Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 6)

When: April 30, 2017 from 7:00pm ~ 9:00pmLotus Lantern Festival, Seoul, Korea 2014

If you’ll be visiting Seoul in time to see the Lotus Lantern Parade, check out Ramada Hotel & Suites, Lotte Hotel or Royal Hotel. All of them are located downtown in the heart of the city and within walking distance of this amazing cultural event!

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