Festivals To Base Your Trip Around.
Hwacheon Ice Festival (January) – Held on a frozen stream, where hundreds of people pierce the ice and fish for trout in the snow. Other local events include catching trout by hand in freezing cold water, skating, ice driving and the consumption of live minnows dipped in spicy sauce. A lot of visitors pay a small amount to sleep on local grannies floors – great fun.
Taebaeksan Snow Festival (late January) – South Korea’s snow festivals are something to behold, and Taebaek is one of the best, including ice sculptures, traditional dough production, snow sports and all sorts of drinking games in the igloo. That, and climbing Taebaek Mountain itself on snow shoes.
Cherry Blossom Festivals (April) – Many towns have their own Cherry Blossom Festivals, taking place in parks to mark the arrival of spring. The trees themselves are stunning, especially against a backdrop of some of the nicer sights such as the capital’s palaces. Enjoy!
Buddha’s Birthday (May) – The nation’s biggest religious event sees a millions people walk through Seoul in a huge parade, as well as huge lantern roofs adorning the temples and loads of related festivities. A huge scale event that’s well worth checking out in Seoul, as well as celebrations elsewhere.
Boryeong Mud Festival (late July) – Coat yourself in technicoloured mud, slide along the beach front, mud wrestle, try to win the title of Mr. or Mrs. Mud, and finally indulge in a nice mud massage all in the name of entertainment. Not to mention the music that takes the town by storm every evening. One of the most lively and bizarre events of the summer.
Pentaport Rock Festival (late July) – South Korea’s biggest music festival has drawn a lot of major international acts to its two stages in Incheon over the years. Muse, Travis and Chemical Brothers have provided some of the highlights, alongside a host of big name local acts. A must-do for music fans, especially expats missing their western music fix.
Jisan Valley Rock Festival (early August) – A serious rival to Pentaport that’s taken a large number of the bigger names over recent years, and only looks like getting bigger. Jisan takes advantage of the proximity of Japan’s infamous Fuji Rock to draw in the likes of Massive Attack, Muse, Pet Shop Boys and Vampire Weekend.
Andong Mask Festival (late September) – The city of Andong is famous for its masks, and September sees the place come to life, fusing with a folk festival with balls and craft displays relating to the slightly creepy looking wooden masks, one of which you’ll definitely want to take home as a souvenir. As strange as it is interesting.
World Martial Arts Festival (September/ October) – A celebration of martial arts that takes place in Chungju, the home of Korea’s martial art taekwondo, or at least its predecessor. Watch exhibition bouts and learn a few moves yourself along the way. It’s a truly international event that attractions aficionados from around the world.
Gwangju Kimchi Festival (October) – If you’ve somehow managed not to have enough Kimchi during your time in Korea, why not head along to the festival, discover how it’s made and take the chance to explore every type of fermented cabbage under the sun. As you do.
Busan Film Festival (October) – A renowned international film festival that’s easily Korea’s biggest, and also one of Asia’s. It’s great for film buffs, and often showcases some of the best movies coming out if the impressive Korean cinema market. It’s hugely impressive even if you’re not a massive movie fan.