I did it! After three years, I finally got to check out the Seoul Lantern Festival. Every year I planned to see it, but I always got the dates wrong or just totally forgot. So, I finally got my chance to gaze upon the luminous wonder that is the lantern festival and it did not disappoint.
The festival opened on Friday, November 2nd over by 청계천 (Cheonggyecheon) and with the weather being super unpredictably rainy lately and the nights getting colder, I didn’t want to take any chances. So being the genius that I am, I went on Saturday night and was I in for a surprise. The crowd was enormous! There were event staff members everywhere trying to organize lines out of mobs and trying to prevent line cutting. There were even time markers to let you know how long the wait was from your point. I saw one for three hours, but lets be realistic… I wasn’t about to wait that long when everyone was cutting their way through this jungle of people.
Eventually, we found a spot in line and made our way through the festival. The first part takes you through the various aspects of life during the 조선 (Joseon) Dynasty, from royalty to commoners. Everything has a label in both korean and english, so it’s a pretty interesting way to brush up on your Korean History, perhaps even become en”light”ened? As you go further down you’ll start to see cartoon characters, animals and even a giant pineapple. Aside from the lovely displays themselves, I really loved the way the colors reflected off the water, giving the atmosphere an almost dream like state. It was a feast for the eyes.
Overall it wasn’t too bad, as the crowds of people thickened and aired out at various points along the stream. There were booths that sold lanterns, and also areas where you could make lanterns, write a wish on them and float them out onto the stream. It was so beautiful, but definitely a LOOOONG walk, so make sure you give yourself enough time to see everything if you decide to check it out. Ready or not, all the lights go out at 11pm. It really is quite the spectacle and surly something you should experience at least once in Korea. If you need more info, check out the official website HERE! The festival ends this weekend November 18th, so don’t miss out!