Summer in Korea is a time for ice cream, sunscreen, and of course enjoying the unique and unforgettable summer Korean festivals. What better way is there to spend enjoying the longer days and warm weather?
Korea is home to a variety of festivals that you won’t find anywhere else, and they definitely help give insight into various aspects of Korean culture that you may be unfamiliar with. The summer’s not over yet – see how many of these you can hit before the weather starts cooling down again!
1. The Gwangju Toechon Tomato Festival – 퇴촌토마토축제
Festival Dates: June 17 ~ 19, 2016
Website: Gwangju Toechon Tomato Festival
Toechon is known for the tomato crop native to the region, and locals and tourists alike join together to celebrate the amazing fruit during this festival unlike any other (yes, tomatoes are fruit!).
A variety of activities take place at the Tomato Festival including picking tomatoes, learning to craft (or purchase) a variety of tomato-based products, and swimming in a giant pool full of tomatoes and tomato juice. Yes, you read that right! Check out this festival if you’re a tomato fan, and please tell us your experience in the comments below if you’ve actually swam in the tomato pool!
2. Boryeong Mud Festival – 보령머드축제
Festival Dates: Jul 17 ~ 25, 2016
Website: Boryeong Mud Festival
If you survived the aforementioned Tomato Festival and swimming in a pool full of tomato juice wasn’t crazy enough for you, be sure to check out the Boryeong Mud Festival, a true highlight of summertime in South Korea. This festival takes place on a beach and is supposedly motivated by the health and beauty benefits related to lathering up in this thick, cold mud. If you ask me, it’s really just an excuse to get down and dirty and cross covering yourself in mud from head to toe off of your bucket list!
Check out the Boryeong Mud Festival if you’re in the area and feeling adventurous, but be sure to wear clothes you’re not super attached to. This mud is notoriously difficult to get completely out of clothing!
3. Pentaport Rock Festival – 인천 펜타포트 락페스티벌
Festival Dates: Aug 12 ~ 14, 2016
Website: Pentaport Rock Festival
Pentaport Rock Festival is one of the biggest international music festivals hosted in all of Asia during summertime, and it is DEFINITELY worth checking out if you’re a fan of energetic crowds and fun rock music. Fall Out Boy, The Monkees, and Suede have all played in recent years – talk about an amazing lineup!
This festival is super easy to access via public transportation, so you won’t have to worry about finding parking or dealing with intoxicated drivers after the night is over. Check out Pentaport Rock Festival, and give crowd surfing a try if it feels right!
4. Haeundae Sand Festival – 해운대 모래축제
Festival Dates: May 27 ~ May 30, 2016
Website: Haeundae Sand Festival
It doesn’t get more “summer” than the Haeundae Sand Festival. This festival celebrates all things summer, ocean, and most importantly, sand! You’ll find sand sculptures, beach volleyball, sand baths, and a bunch of other activities that are guaranteed to leave you covered in sand and in love with summer. Take a couple of days to enjoy the Sand Festival and then some rest & relaxation in this popular beach destination – you deserve it!
5. The Buyeo Seodong Lotus Festival – 부여서동연꽃축제
Festival Dates: Jul 8 ~ 17, 2016
Website: Buyeo Seodong Lotus Festival
As a huge flower lover myself, I can always appreciate a festival centered around blooming wildlife like the Buyeo Seodong Lotus Festival. The Lotus Festival is home to sprawling displays of bright, beautiful lotus blossoms as fun, food, and crafts for the entire family.
Checking out this festival means spending the day making lotus-inspired beauty products, paper flowers, and learning about wildflower preservation. Bring the whole family, because there’s something for everybody!
6. Gangneung Danoje Festival – 강릉단오제
Festival Dates: Jun 5 ~ 12, 2016
Website: Gangneung Danoje Festival
If you’re looking for a festival that will teach you something new about an aspect of South Korean culture, look no further than the Gangneung Danoje Festival, an annual celebration of the rich and vibrant culture of the Joseon Dynasty. The Danoje Festival is pretty traditional as far as festivals go – it features traditional Korean food, art, and even puts on traditional Korean wedding etiquette displays! Gangneung is also a beautiful area and perfect for beach lounging, so you can easily turn experiencing this fun, historic festival into an extended beach vacation.
7. Pohang International Fireworks Festival – 포항 국제불빛축제
Festival Dates: July 29 ~ 31, 2016
Nothing makes me think of summer quicker than the smell, sound, and beauty of a fireworks display! People come from all over the world to enjoy the Pohang International Fireworks Festival, which celebrates the magic of fireworks with competitions, parades, and fireworks shows set to music performances.
Pohang is known as “The City of Light and Fire,” so it’s only fitting that this out of this world fireworks festival is hosted in this beautiful beach town. Be sure to check out this festival this summer and practice your fireworks photography!
8. Muju Firefly Festival – 무주 반딧불축제
Festival Dates: Aug 27 ~ Sep 4, 2016
Website: Muju Firefly Festival
Do you remember catching fireflies as a child? It’s an activity that felt so magical, so carefree, and so summer. That’s the type of feeling that the Muju Firefly Festival captures for millions (that’s right – MILLIONS) of attendees every year. This festival is one of the most popular summer festivals in the country, and it celebrates light, laughter, and spending warm summer nights with the people you hold near and dear. Be sure to stop by this festival to check out traditional performances and concerts as well as fireflies, of course!
9. Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival – 부천 국제판타스틱영화제
Festival Dates: Jul 21 ~ 31, 2016
If you’d rather enjoy a summer festival that boasts air conditioning rather than allowing your makeup to melt off, the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival is the festival for you! This festival focuses on up and coming movies ranging from live action to documentary to video game and animation, so there’s something for everybody and a ton to experience. Check out this festival and enjoy the excitement of summer without the heat that comes with it!
What’s your favorite Korean summer festival? Be sure to let us know in the comments below so we can check it out before summer is over!