It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The days are getting shorter, the air is crisp and icy, and 2016 is quickly coming to a close (already!). There’s something special about winter – something about the change in seasons brings families together and builds a general sense of excitement about the next year and the future in general.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Korea this winter, you’re in for a treat. Winter is the perfect time to visit Korea, because although it may be chilly, Korea is home to a long list of unique and exciting winter festivals that will help you get to know the country and experience a different side of Korean culture than you get to during the other three seasons. Read on for more information on the winter Korean festivals that you should add to your long list of things to do in Korea this winter!
The Garden of the Morning Calm Lighting Festival
Festival Dates: Dec 2, 2016 ~ Mar 26, 2017
Website: The Garden of the Morning Calm
If you’re staying in Seoul this winter, the lighting festival at The Garden of the Morning Calm is definitely worth making the one hour trek for. The garden is as beautiful as the name suggests – home to thousands of plants, the garden is full of beautiful walkways and scenic displays that are lovely to explore no matter what time of year you’re visiting.
The garden kicks up the beauty an additional notch in the winter, because the property is decorated with a seemingly infinite number of sparkling LED lights that make it feel like a true winter wonderland. Bundle up, and bring the whole family out to see the lights at the Garden of the Morning Calm this year – it’s the perfect activity to get everybody in the holiday spirit!
The Pyeongchang Trout Festival
Festival Dates: Dec 23, 2016 ~ Jan 30, 2017
Website: Pyeongchang Trout Festival
Are twinkling lights not really your style? Are you looking for a different, more rugged type of activity to get you in the mood for winter? If so, look no further than the Pyeongchung Trout Festival which is centered around – you guessed it – all things trout-related.
The main attraction at this festival is jumping into pools of frigid water to attempt to catch fish with your hands before they get numb (or frostbitten), so you can bet that only the toughest are successful. If bare-handed fish-catching isn’t exactly your style, fear not – there’s also traditional fishing (with poles), snow rafting, and a bunch of additional winter activities that you can do with mittens on.
The Herb Island Light & Fairy Tale Story Festival
Festival Dates: Nov 1 ~ Dec 31, 2016
What do you think of when you think of winter? If Santa, sleigh bells, and thousands of holiday lights are your style, be sure to check out the Light & Fairy Tale Story Festival that happens annually at Pocheon Herb Island. This festival is similar to The Garden of the Morning Calm Lighting Festival in that the focal point is the beautiful, twinkling LED lights, but the Herb Island festival also features hundreds of Santas that gather in Santa’s Village to add an additional holiday element to the festival.
If you don’t get in the holiday spirit until you see the jolly old man in red, this is definitely the festival for you. The island is also home to a number of spas and luxurious getaways, so make a weekend out of it and relax while you ease yourself into winter!
The Homigot Sunrise Festival
(호미곶 한민족 해맞이축전)
Festival Dates: Dec 31, 2016 ~ Jan 1, 2017
Website: Homigot Sunrise Festival
Unlike the above festivals that occur over the course of several weeks or months, the famous Homigot Sunrise Festival only occurs on the first of the year, so make sure you mark your calendars! If you didn’t know, Korea is a peninsula, and Homigot is on the eastern-most tip of the peninsula. This helps make the Sunrise Festival as popular as it is – Homigot is the first area on the peninsula to see the sun come up!
If you have a chance to check out this festival, you’ll see a bunch of fun concerts and cultural performances that will make your New Year’s Eve a truly unforgettable experience. Bundle up and make your way out to Homigot and ring in the New Year the right way!
Taebaek Mountain Snow Festival
Festival Dates: Jan 13, 2017 ~ Jan 22.2017
Website: Taebaek Mountain Snow Festival
Location: Taebaeksi, Gangwondo
It doesn’t get much more “winter” than a festival centered around the beauty of snow and all that you can do with it. Come check out the magnificent snow sculptures at this celebration of winter – the artists go all out and create intricate scenes using only snow, so they definitely put simple snowmen to shame.
After you’ve scoped out all of the snow creations, there are also plenty of concerts, performances, and opportunities to karaoke occurring throughout the town to keep the celebration going late into the night. Definitely add this festival to your list if you’ve made it through the holidays and you still can’t get enough of winter!
If you have exploring Korea on your to-do list for this winter, use this list of winter Korean festivals to help you get to know a beautiful season in an exciting country. There’s truly something for everybody, so whether you want to be trekking through ice and snow outside or enjoying winter beauty from the comfortable warmth of the indoors, you’ll definitely find what you’re looking for in Korea. Do you have a favorite Korean festival that’s not on the above list? Please let us know in the comments below so we can check it out!