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Korea is a vibrant kaleidoscope. With towering buildings and grand monuments, on one hand, the cultural variety and heritage of the country are also worth experiencing. Its customs, community, individuals, rituals, and culture are as stunning and magnificent as its natural beauty. To truly understand and experience these, nothing beats the indigenous celebrations. While you explore and witness the natural essence of the country, try to revel in some of these renowned Korean festivals that provide a deep insight into the nation’s history and heritage.
Renowned Korean Festivals
Take a glimpse at these incredible Korean festivals and witness the native culture. Try to participate in some of them and immerse yourself in the atmosphere and spirit of the festivities.
Cultural Festivals In Korea
- Jeju Fire Festival
- Jinju Lantern Festival
- Seongsan Sunrise Festival
- Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival
- Boryeong Mud Festival
- Gwangju World Culture Kimchi Festival
Music Festivals In Korea
- Ultra Korea
- Busan One Asia Festival
Cultural Festivals In Korea
Here are some of the most popular cultural festivals in Korea that you can participate in:
1. Jeju Fire Festival- Embracing Optimal Health & Harvest
This is one of the most renowned festivals in Korea celebrated over 3 days in late February and March. The beautiful city of Jeju is set ablaze to pray for and welcome the new year with good health, happiness, and abundant harvest. It symbolizes the ancient practice of burning old grass to eliminate pests before the next farming season begins. This is a unique celebration and the sight of the hilly city on fire appears breathtaking and stunning. The festival is also marked by folk dances, torch marches, and tribal games and activities.
Location: Jeju IslandDate: Annually on Feb/Mar (TBA)
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2. Jinju Lantern Festival- Make A Wish
Popularly known as Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival, this is one of the oldest festivals in Korea, showcasing the country’s traditions and culture. The local people light thousands of red lanterns along the Nam River and make wishes for the well-being, health, and prosperity of their loved ones. The custom originated back in 1592, coinciding with the practice of lighting lanterns to prevent Japanese troops from crossing the Namgang River during the Japanese invasion. Therefore, these lanterns also honor the veterans of the Jinjuseong Fortress Battle. Along with the surreal sight of countless illuminated lanterns, one can enjoy street parades, performances, local street food, and even create their own lanterns to hang in the Tunnel Of Wish Lanterns.
Location: JinjuDate: February 5th, 2023
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3. Seongsan Sunrise Festival- Embracing The New Year
Every year, on the initial day, local residents hike up to the Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, also known as Sunrise Peak, to witness the first rays of the Sun of the year and extend wishes for joy, well-being, and success to everyone. Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak is one of the most stunning vantage points in Korea, renowned for its breathtaking panorama of the surroundings and designated as a World Nature Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Seongsan Sunrise Festival starts on New Year’s Eve with a natural trail, torchlight procession, folk dances, and music performed by local artists, followed by midnight fireworks.
Location: Seongsan Ilchulbong, Sunrise Peak- JejuDate: December 31st – January 2nd
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4. Hansik- Honoring The Ancestors
The Hansik festival, also known as the Cold Food Festival, is a popular celebration. On this occasion, locals engage in cooking without the use of fire and enjoy cold dishes throughout the day. According to Korean mythology, the entire country performs rituals at Jongmyo, the Royal Shrine, and Neungwon. Community members hold personal memorial services and visit the ancestral graves of their families. They also plant trees near the graves and offer prayers. The Hansik festival marks the beginning of the agricultural season, and farmers scatter seeds from their fields to commence farming.
Location: South KoreaDate: To be announced
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5. Yudu- A Distinctive Celebration
Yudu is one of the most remarkable festivals in Korea. During this event, households offer the first harvest of the season to God and begin gathering crops and fruits for their annual household supply. One of the most unconventional aspects of the Yudu festival is that locals visit nearby streams to wash their hair, symbolizing the removal of negative energies and misfortune from their lives. As Yudu takes place in the peak of summer, people celebrate the festival by indulging in ginseng chicken broth and other nourishing soups.
Location: South KoreaDate: To Be Announced
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6. Seollal- Joyful New Year
Seolnal is the Korean new year and celebrated on the initial day of the Korean calendar. This is one of the joyous Korean festivals celebrated by the entire nation. Individuals commence their celebration by conducting ancestral ceremonies and paying homage to them. The locals don traditional attire, savor authentic traditional cuisine, engage in folk games, and listen to folk tales. Everyone exchanges greetings, wishes, blessings, as well as gifts and sweets.
Location: South KoreaDate: February
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7. Dano- An Exquisite Korean Tradition
Similar to other traditional festivals in Korea, Dano holds great significance. Local individuals celebrate with utmost enthusiasm, and it is declared a national holiday in the country. Women rinse their hair with water boiled with a sweet flag to give it a radiant shine. The local people adorn themselves in red and blue attire and use iris roots to ward off misfortune and malevolent spirits. People partake in traditional folk games such as swinging and stone battles, while relishing local delicacies like surichitteok, ssuk tteok, and herb rice cakes.
Location: South KoreaDate: To Be Announced
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8. Hwacheon Sancheoneo- Ice Festival
Located in a frozen river in Gangwon Province of Hwacheon County, this is another captivating and enchanting Korean festival. Individuals brave the sub-zero temperatures to partake in trout fishing. Some even catch fish bare-handed from the drilled ice holes. This is one of Korea’s most popular winter festivals, celebrated across the country. Alongside ice fishing, other activities at this festival include building snowmen, snow tunnels, and snow slides, as well as engaging in ice sledging and ice soccer.
Location: Hwacheon CountyDate: TBA
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9. Boryeong Mud Festival- The Joy of Messiness
Organized at Daecheon Beach, thousands of individuals come together once a year and enjoy dancing, sliding, and wrestling in mud. Sounds chaotic? Actually not! The festival began in the 90s to promote the therapeutic advantages of mud rich in minerals, but now the festival is celebrated with a variety of activities and adventures that bring joy and excitement to everyone. Mud wrestling, fireworks, mudslides, and a mud king competition are some of the highlights. One can even enjoy diverse music concerts by talented KPop artists, which bring extra enthusiasm to the celebration.
Location: Daecheon Beach, Boryeong-siDate: TBA
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10. Gwangju World Culture Kimchi Festival
As one of the renowned food festivals in Korea, Gwangju World Culture Kimchi Festival offers various activities related to kimchi. From kimchi-making competitions and painting to a Kimchi master contest and cooking classes, everything there is delightful and exciting. One can even experience a sprawling Kimchi market and choose exotic varieties of Kimchi from around the world.
Location: GwangjuDate: October
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Music Festivals In Korea
Here are some of the most vibrant music festivals in Korea that you simply cannot miss if you are a music lover:
11. Ultra Korea- You Cannot Resist Dancing
Ultra Korea is not only one of the popular music festivals in Korea, but in the world as well. It is also the first-ever music festival in Asia. With a dazzling performance by globally renowned EDM artists, this music carnival makes everyone sing, sway in happiness, and tap their feet. This diverse festival brings music enthusiasts together for a few days from different parts of the world. Undoubtedly, this is the grandest and most happening music festival in the country.
Location: SeoulDate: 26th to 28th March
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12. Busan One Asia Festival- Seamless Blend Of Music Culture
Busan One Asia Festival is another delight for music enthusiasts. It is a renowned Korean pop music carnival and one can enjoy the incredible stage performances. Being one of the most exciting Korean festivals of 2019, it saw artists like A Pink, Black Pink, iKon, Wanna One, Momoland and SF9, NU’EST W. The festival allows everyone to get a detailed glimpse of Korean pop culture through concerts, exhibitions, and fan meetings. The music festival of Korea presents fusion music and music genres from other Asian countries.
Location: BusanDate: (Date yet to be announced)
Further Read: 26 Destinations To Visit In Korea During Winter That Would Hook You With Their Charm
Planning a vacation in Korea with Travel Triangle? Organize in such a way so that you witness some of the famous Korean festivals, which are an experience of a lifetime.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Korean Festivals
Name the popular music festivals in Korea?
The popular music festivals in Korea are UItra Music, Purple Cow Music Festival and World DJ Festival.
Which is the oldest festival in Korea?
The oldest festival in Korea is Jinju Lantern Festival which started in 1592.
Which are the most famous festivals in Korea?
The most famous festivals in Korea are Bonfire Festival, Wangin Culture Festival, Chuseok- Harvest moon festival and Busan One Asia Festival.
Name the tribal festivals in Korea.
Samjinnal, Hansik, Dano, Yudu, and Sambok are the popular tribal festivals in Korea.
Which is the best time to visit Korea?
The best time to visit Korea is in the spring and autumn. April to June and September to November is the best time to explore Korea.
Why do people prefer South Korea over the North?
North Korea is largely uninhabited with minimal economic development. On the contrary, South Korea is highly developed with industries, commercialization, and tourism.
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