Home See & Do 18 Winter and Spring Festivals to Enjoy in South Korea

18 Winter and Spring Festivals to Enjoy in South Korea

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South Korea being a country with four distinct seasons is well-known for its wide-reaching K-pop scene, strong cultural background, as well as being a haven for foodies.

But the popular travel destination truly comes alive when the first pure white snowflake shows itself. When winter cometh, the festivities begin. And the joyous occasions doesn’t slow down after winter either. Spring is a time for rebirth, rejuvenation, and a whole host of unique experiences too!

The Land of The Calming Sun is the venue for a myriad of enriching festivals held during the long winter and spring months. From food parades to one-of-a-kind cultural experiences to distinctive illuminated landscapes, there is a festival for everyone.

So the next time you are visiting South Korea during winter or spring, you may consider attending a few of these local festivals — aside from visiting the obligatory places of interest, of course.

Festivals for the Gastronomy Enthusiasts

From the universally beloved kimchi to the spicy tteokbokki to the well-balanced bibimbap, Korean cuisine has managed to seep into the hearts of food lovers the world over.

And a visit to South Korea wouldn’t be complete without sampling the country’s finest local dishes. Here are some food festivals you may consider attending during winter and springtime.

Nonsan Strawberry Festival

Come spring, Nonsan’s fields are blanketed by the bright scarlet hues of Korea’s local berries. Lovers of the red fruit will definitely be enamoured by this locale.

Nonsan city in the South Chungcheong Province is blessed with rich soil, clean waters, and ample sunshine. And these conditions create the perfect environment for growing high-quality strawberries.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that the city organizes its very own Nonsan Strawberry Festival each year. The award-winning festival typically entails many strawberry-related activities for guests to partake in. These activities range from making strawberry rice cake to cooking events to strawberry nail art and face painting.

 

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Moreover, visitors will also be able to sample the wide range of succulent strawberries Nonsan has to offer.

When To Go: March to mid-April

Boseong Green Tea Festival

 

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Featuring rolling hills of verdant shrubbery, Boseong is famous for its green tea farms and picturesque scenery. The county — located in the South Jeolla Province — is a mainstay in many visitors’ travel lists and receives plenty of travellers throughout the year.

But otherwise, Boseong does host a tea festival from early to mid-May each year which also serves to boost its popularity as a tourist destination.

 

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During the Boseong Green Tea Festival, visitors may join in on the various exciting tea-related activities. These activities may include visitors trying their hands at picking the tea leaves, as well as making and tasting the tea itself.

 

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If you’re a tea lover, be sure to add this to your to-do list the next time you’re in Korea in spring. All the fun tea-centric activities, in addition to the tea-licious green tea products, would indeed make one tea-lated.

When To Go: Early to mid-May

Yeongdeok Snow Crab Festival

 

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Ah yes, crabs are known to be a luxurious delicacy in most parts of the world. But take it up a notch, and you’ve got snow crabs — an opulent variant of the crustacean critters.

So if the chance presents itself, and you find yourself in the charming county of Yeongdeok, then you ought to take part in the Yeongdeok Snow Crab Festival.

Yeongdeok, in particular, is well-known for its snow crabs. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the seaside area hosts an annual event in appreciation of the fresh seafood. Whether you are a lover of snow crabs or a budding seafood enthusiast, this is certainly a not-to-be-missed festival.

 

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Take the opportunity to stroll through the public snow crab auction — and if possible, try to snag a couple of the hefty crabs! But if you aren’t up for participating in the auction, don’t worry – there are plenty of other activities to enjoy, such as getting on a snow crab fishing boat or participating in a lively snow crab cooking competition.

Though, the highlight of the festival has to be the sampling of the snow crabs. You will be presented with the rare opportunity to taste a variety of different Korean snow crab dishes here.

When To Go: March

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Enjoy Your Very Own Winter Wonderland

For many of the inhabitants of Southeast Asia, getting to experience their first winter is a joyous occasion. There’s much to be said about seeing and touching snow for the first time, as well as taking part in the wintertime activities that follow.

For a taste of winter wonderland, the following festivals are great experiences for first-timers.

Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

 

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Experience a taste of what true winter feels like at South Korea’s Gangwon province. Specifically, the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival is a winter festival you should make an effort to attend if you’re in town.

As the Hwacheon stream freezes over in the winter, locals and tourists alike flock to try their hands at ice fishing. Carving a hole in the ice, hooking up a bunch of sancheoneo (Masou salmon) is the end goal. This trout species is known to only live in high-quality freshwater, which means the quality of its meat is second to none.

 

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There are two main ways for visitors to enjoy the sancheoneo fishing activity — ice fishing above the thick ice or bare-handed fishing in a pool. (Yep, bare-handed. In the cold. During winter.)

 

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Additionally, visitors may take their spoils to be cooked or prepared for a fee at the local food centres. And while sancheoneo fishing is the main activity during the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, there are also other snow and ice activities in store.

For one, visitors may take a thrilling sledge ride down the icy hills. And the more sporty/active participants will also enjoy the many winter sports held during the festival. Lastly, there is also a zipline set up over the frozen stream for the adrenaline junkies.

When To Go: January

Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival

 

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Featuring the mountainous region Taebaeksan, the Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival is a free annual affair which presents large-scale snow sculptures on display for the public to admire (and snap photos of).

 

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These sculptures can be found sitting rather idly in a few locations in town including Taebaeksan’s national park, Hwangji Pond, and other downtown areas.

 

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Also, various programs are held in conjunction with the yearly festival. From hiking contests to snow sledging and tubing, you will find yourself strapped for time when attending this festival. We’d also suggest trying out the igloo/snow café where one can’t help but feel like an Eskimo sipping on a cup of hot coffee.

When To Go: January to early February

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Nature Lovers Will Love These

Step out of the cold and into the warm embrace of Mother Nature this coming spring. Among the many festivals held in Korea, some of the ones that stand out pertain to an appreciation of nature.

And when it comes to spring, cherry blossom-watching springs to mind!

Cherry Blossom Festival

 

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The very definition of spring in Korea, the cherry blossom season presents a lovely scenery that travellers come far and wide to admire. And like Japan’s own cherry blossom festivals, Korea’s pink-leaved trees does leave one in awe of its short-lived beauty.

 

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And when we said short-lived, we meant it — the cherry blossoms only lasts for a very short period for each location. But as mentioned, there are a few locations that you may visit at some point in April to view the much-relished cherry blossom scenery.

 

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The most famous cherry blossom festivals are the Jinhae Gunhangje Festival and the Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Festival in the south of the country. Alternatively, there is also the Yeouido Spring Flower Festival held in Seoul that you could also consider attending.

When To Go: End of March to April

SeokChon Lake Cherry Blossom

 

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And speaking of popular cherry blossom festivals, the Seokchon Lake Cherry Blossom Festival is not to be missed! The scenery of both the Lotte World Tower and Magic Island’s (an amusement park) cherry blossoms come together to create a stunning scenery perfect for couples as a dating spot.

Plenty of events are held during this time which includes concerts, busking, music performances, singing contests, markets, etc. So you’ll surely be spoilt for choice when it comes to things to see and do during the festival period.

When To Go: Early to mid-April

Gwangyang Maehwa Festival

 

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Featuring a small, charming village tucked in the city of Gwangyang in the Jeolla province, the self-named Gwangyang Maehwa Festival is up next.

Also known as Seomjin village, the locale is a mere stone’s throw away from Seomjin River — considered one of the cleanest rivers among Korea’s five largest rivers.

 

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Each spring, the riverside transforms into a picturesque scene akin to something straight out of a postcard. The 100,000 blooming plum trees covering the wide and hilly Seomjin Village makes for the perfect spot for a short picnic. Or otherwise, the idyllic location is also obviously an excellent backdrop for photoshoots.

When To Go: Late March to early April

Eungbongsan Mountain Forsythia Festival

 

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Come spring of each year, pretty forsythia, royal azalea petals, and cherry blossoms blanket the mountainous regions of Eungbong-dong in Seongdong-gu. This wave of yellow (from the forsythia flower) signals the beginning of Eungbong-dong’s own flowering festival — The Mount Eungbong Forsythia Festival.

The festival is one of the typical cultural festivals in Seongdong-gu in which family, couples, and residents come together to enjoy the crisp freshness of early spring. During the event, plenty of activities is held for the residents and visitors to take part in.

Some of which, include drawing contests, children’s composition, ballon art shows, live music concerts and more!

When To Go: Early April

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Instagrammers, Unite!

While nature can be a wonderful subject, the end of the year calls for an atmosphere with a certain festive feel to it. And Korea undoubtedly has its fair share of merry festivals.

The following festivals serve as a great reminder of the joyous and merry season. As an added bonus, they’re pretty Instagrammable too!

Busan Christmas Tree Festival

 

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No year-end festival would be complete without lighting up a Christmas tree for one and all to enjoy. And the Busan Christmas Tree Festival is an annual winter event that is near-unrivalled in this regard.

Get into the holiday spirit by visiting and admiring the humongous Christmas tree decorated by glimmering LED lights set up in the Jung-gu district of Busan.

This event also transforms the streets of Gwangbok-ro into a festive affair, with concerts, street performances, and other events rounding up the yearly festival activities.

When To Go: Mid-November to December

The Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival

 

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This festival is touted as one of the biggest festivals of lights in Korea.

Held annually at The Garden of Morning Calm, the 30,000 illuminating lights cover a 100,000 pyeong (Korean unit of area and floorspace) area within the garden — effectively enveloping the snowy grounds and turning it into a winter wonderland at sunset. Undoubtedly, the gleaming lights do add a festive flair to the garden during the winter season.

Remember to take the time to properly explore the various main gardens at the arboretum. The main gardens here include Hakyung Garden, Hometown House Garden, Bonsai Garden, Moonlight Garden, Sky Path, and Garden of Eden.

When To Go: December to March

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Light and Fairy Tale Story Festival

 

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Akin to a scene straight out of a children’s storybook, Pocheon’s Herb Island in Gyeonggi-do is a beautiful eden in its own right. But come nightfall, the garden transforms into a romantic set illuminated by countless colourful LED lights.

 

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Specifically, from the months of November to April, the Light and Fairy Tale Story Festival begins to take shape. During the festival, the theme of fairy tales is apparent, the attractions endless, and the visitors are aplenty. From hopeless romantics to friends looking to make new memories, this whimsical festival is THE place to be!

We’d also suggest visiting the popular Santa’s Village when you attend the festival. Here you’ll find a 300m long lit pink wish tunnel paving the way to the village — offering the perfect spot for a great photo-taking sesh.

When To Go: November to April

For the Culture Buffs

Last but not least, for the culture aficionados, Korea is home to a rich and mystical culture that will surely spark excitement. From fiery age-old traditions to natural wonders, these festivals bring in massive crowds of tourists and locals alike each year.

Jeju Fire Festival

 

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Jeju Island is a paradise found off the southern coast of South Korea. It is home to marvellous UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites including a stunning coastal scenery.

But come March of each year, the island literally transforms into a fiery landscape. More particularly, attending the traditional Jeongwol Daeboreum Field Burning Festival is a must the next time you’re on the island during springtime.

Also known as the Jeju Fire Festival, this festival follows the tradition of bangae — a tradition in which farmers set their pastures alight to remove the old grass, in addition to exterminating harmful pests. The tradition is said to renew the grass for the cattle and horses to graze on.

 

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A typical highlight of the Jeju Fire Festival is the burning of the daljip — a large bonfire structure made of pine tree branches and other logs which are set ablaze in conjunction with the rise of the full moon. The burning of this wooden home is said to help deliver the villagers’ prayers for good fortune, protection, and a good harvest.

In addition to the huge bonfire, a number of other events and cultural activities are held to keep the thousands of visitors occupied and entertained. These activities include fireworks displays, K-pop concerts, and even strength competitions.

When To Go: March

Sunrise Festivals Around Seoul

 

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While cultural experiences around the world may differ from destination to destination, one common joy everyone looks forward to is the rise of the sun. That is to say, the sunrise signals the dawning of a brand new day — which means more adventure awaits!

And when it comes to the sunrise, South Korea is home to a ton of vantage points that’ll allow you to fully bask in the first rays of the day (and the year in this case).

There are several sunrise festivals organized in the vicinity of the city around the new year’s period. During this time, attendees may participate and immerse themselves in the Korean tradition of shouting at the sunrise with others, as well as to join in on the other festivities.

The Eungbongsan Sunrise Festival is one of the best festivals to attend to welcome the new year. Alternatively, the Seongsan Sunrise Festival in Jeju Island and the Haneul Park Sunrise Festival are also great options.

When To Go: End of December to early January.

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