Christmas In Seoul: The 2018 Holiday Guide To Markets, Lights & Events!
The Christmas season has begun and with that everyone is in search of where to get the holiday goods, gifts and more. I culled this list of markets to check out with mulled wine to quench the holiday thirst, gardens with twinkling lights and events with chili cook-offs and every other holiday event I could find. What will you get into this holiday season?
Check out this complete list of where to go and what to see for lights, ice rinks, food, fun and more this holiday season!
(This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a certain percentage of a sale at no cost to you.)
Christmas Markets & Events
Christmas Crafts & Carafes
December 8, 2018; 11:00am ~ 3:00pm
Join this event to get in holiday gear. Join others to eat on a delectable lunch menu from Vineworks, sweets including fudge and bundts from Sweet Seasons by Jayleen and sip on mulled wine, hot chocolate and English breakfast tea. While enjoying the festive spirit, piece together a number of crafts of your choosing including natural and paper wreaths, ornaments and mini Christmas trees or decorate some gingerbread cookies to take home. This event is open to children and adults and is a great way to make some decorations for your home or gifts to give to others. (Website)
The European Christmas Market
December 8 & 9, 2018: 12:00pm ~ 7:00pm
Located at Seongbukcheon Fountain Square, this market is a great place to find food and items from Bulgaria, Austria, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Finland and plenty more European countries. There will be food, ornaments, instrumental performances and singing, dances and a Christmas ginger bread auction. Don’t forget to take your own bowl or tumbler and you can get a W500 discount. (Website)
Marche de Noel
December 8, 2018: 10:00am ~ 4:30pm
The French Christmas Market takes place in the small Ginkgo Park next to the French School in the Seocho District of Seoul. The park is tiny so I highly recommend arriving early, getting the goods and moving to the outer edges to sit and munch. The delicious French treats are well worth the bumping. A clown will be on hand for children at 10:30am and 12:00pm and Pere Noel will be moving around at 11:30am and 2:30pm. (Website)
KLC: Holiday Party
December 8, 2018: 8:00pm
Join the Korea Legacy Committee at their annual holiday party. Drink cocktails, eat food from Lucky India and take part in a special auction of Christmas items. There is an all white dress code. All proceeds from this event will go toward purchasing Heat Tech and gloves for elderly currently living in poverty. (Website)
Kintex Christmas Fair
December 7-9 & 1-16, 2018
This is the largest Christmas fair in the country and it is THE place to stock up on all manner of decorative supplies, stationary, holiday desserts and more. There are more than 800 exhibitors and last ear the fair saw more than 100,000 visitors so expect a crowd but all the Xmas goods you’ll need if you’re hosting a holiday party this year. (Website)
Lycee Xavier International Christmas Market
December 15, 2018; 10:00am ~ 4:00pm
The Lycee Xavier International will be hosting a Christmas Market with food including foie gras and crepes as well as refreshments. Santa Claus will join in the fun and there will be gourmet produce to buy and a choir to listen to. (Website)
Twinkling Sparkling Lights!
From the Galleria Department Store to Seoul Plaza, Times Square and Lotte Department Store in Sogong-dong, there are a number of places to go in order to see a grandiose Christmas tree in all it’s splendor, but to get that much more into the spirit, head to these places for all of those twinkling lit up hot spots that will remind you of Christmas back home. Myeong-dong, where you’ll likely be headed for some Christmas gifts anyway also has numerous building facades lit up for the holidays so stay into the evening to see them in all their festive glory.
Santa’s Village at Herb Island
Through the month of December and into the spring
Back in the States, some families pile into their cars and drive along lanes of houses that are lit up every which way. In Korea… that’s a little tough to do, BUT that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the lights and Santa decor. Head to Herb Island and visit Santa’s Village located in a nut pine forest. The village takes their inspiration from Finland’s village of the same name and showcases 300 Santa sculptures, Christmas trees and a 300 meter long light tunnel. (Website)
- Take a tour with Klook for easy access and transportation and an afternoon into evening of fun that includes the Pocheon Art Valley before the gorgeous illuminations.
Lighting Festival at The Garden Of the Morning Calm
December 5, 2018 ~ March 31, 2019: From sunset to 9:00pm (Saturdays until 11:00pm)
Another garden to see some beautiful holiday lights twinkling in the night is Garden of the Morning Calm. Nestled in the mountains just outside of Seoul, this makes for a great day trip or weekend away from the city. More than 5,000 plants in the gardens, scenic walkways and 6 million LED lights are calling. Head to Gapyeong now! (Website)
- Take a tour with Klook that includes a stop at Nami Island made famous in the drama Winter Sonata before visiting the beautiful lights of Garden Of the Morning Calm.
Lotte World’s “Christmas Miracle”
November 10 ~ December 31, 2018
Lotte World really goes all out for holidays so if you want to jump head first into the jingle bells and lights, this is the place to do just that. Highlights include the Miracle Santa Village with a large Christmas tree and loads of performances and characters for the kids or the kid in you to enjoy. Frolic with the fairies in the Christmas parade at 2:00pm and 8:00pm and sing along with the musicals. This would be some good family fun. (Website)
Seoul Christmas Festival
December 8, 2018 ~ January 1, 2019
Set along the Cheonggyecheon Stream in central Seoul from Cheonggye Plaza to the Jangton bridge, this festival hosts a giant tree at Changgyecheon Plaza followed by zones of lights and holiday decor. If you’re downtown, this would be an easy enough stop off to feel the holiday spirit with loads of lights and performances too. (Website)
Everland Christmas Fantasy
November 11, 2018 ~ December 31, 2018
Everland is hosting a Christmas Fantasy Festival in conjunction with the lighting festival Romantic Illumination. Head into the park via a 500 meter long “Christmas Avenue, Ever Milky Way” that is lit with 120,000 LED lights. Artificial snow even falls during the White Christmas Parade. From day to night, Everland might just be hosting the brightest fest in town. (Website)
- Get tickets and transportation via Klook for easy access to this park south of Seoul.
There are a few different places in Seoul to get out and about, strap some ice skates to your feet and flit around on some ice. Be prepared for lines on the weekends but fun on the frozen water!
If skiing is your jam instead, check out this comprehensive guide for resorts to ski around Seoul and how to get to them.
Grand Hyatt Ice Rink: TBD (Website)
Seoul Plaza Ice Rink: Dates to be announced (Website)
Olympic Park Ice Rink: TBD but probably end of December to beginning of February (Website)
World Cup Park Rink: January 1, 2019 ~ February 17, 2019 (Website)
MBC Plaza Sangam: December 21, 2018 ~ February 6, 2019 (Website)
Lotte World Ice Rink: All Year (Website)
Mokdong Ice Rink: All Year (Website)
Taereung International Skating Rink: All Year(Website)
Korean Children’s Center Snow Sledding Field: December 15, 2018 ~ February 24, 2019 (Website)
One Mount: Ice Skating and Christmas Land indoors year round (Website)
Food & Fun
5th Annual Route 66 Chili Cook Off
December 8, 2018; 3:00pm ~ 7:00pm
Route 66 will be hosting their fifth annual holiday chili cook off. Pay just W30,000 and you’ll get to eat more than a dozen chilies and vote for your favorite. Last year there were some standard chilis, lamb, vegan, bacon chipotle, pulled pork, super spicy, smoked duck and more different kinds of chilies. Only 70 tickets will be sold so if chili screams winter goodness to you, don’t miss this event! (Website)
Santa Pub Crawl (The 10th Seoul Santacon)
December 15, 2018 at 8:45pm
Dress up like Santa Claus and toast the town… or get toasted, one of those. Join hundreds of others in red and white gallivanting around the city spreading cheer and merriment wherever they go. Just remember to drink responsibly. (Website)
Holiday Concerts & Performances
Christmas With Camarata: December 8, 2018 at 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Under the heading “Let All the World, Sing!”, this years performance will include selections from Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on Christmas Carols”, “Jingle Bells”, “Joy to the World”, Schubert’s “Gloria”, Hark the Herald, “Hallelujah”, “Do you Hear What I Hear”, “Silent Night”, “Somewhere In My Memory”, “Let All the World in Every Corner Sing”, “Seal Lullaby”, “Arirang”, and SO MUCH MORE! A portion of the proceeds of this concert will go to support North Korean Refugees and the deaf community. (Website)
The Nutcracker: December 15 – 30, 2018
The Universal Ballet and the National Ballet will be presenting this well known holiday piece that will no doubt have everyone tapping their feet and dancing into the streets afterward. Find the location nearest to you and enjoy this Christmas ballet classic.
WhiteLies Presents: Winter Holidays: December 15, 2018: 9:00pm
Hosted by the WhiteLies Burlesque Revue, this event will bring some holiday cheer through some festive and fun holiday acts. 100% of the proceeds from this event goes to support the Dding Dong, an LGBTQ+ community center. Bring non-perishable items to donate to the local food bank. (Website)
The Little Singers of Paris Christmas Concert: December 19 & 20, 2018 at 8:00pm
Enjoy this year’s “Happy Christmas Concert” sharing the message “All in One”. Twenty-four boys make up the a cappella choir that has more than 110 years of history and tradition. The will will sing works from Mozart’s “Berceuse de Mozart” along with other Christmas carols and chants.
Ronn Branton Jazz Christmas Concert: December 24 & 25, 2018
Head over to the Changcheon Art Hall in the Gangnam area to see Ronn Branton’s annual jazz Christmas concert with Martin Jacobsen on the sax, Sean Pentland on bass, Manual Weyand on drums and of course Ronn Branton on the piano. (Website)