Guide to Winter Festivals in Korea

Lighting Festival at The Garden of Morning Calm (Credit: The Garden of Morning Calm)
Lighting Festival at The Garden of Morning Calm (Credit: The Garden of Morning Calm)

Guide to Winter Festivals in Korea

by Korea Tourism Organization
Korea Tourism Organization

Winter in Korea means plenty of festive gatherings, from Christmas to New Year’s Eve parties. As December comes to an end and the year draws to a close, people gather at sunrise festival locations across Korea to welcome in the first sunrise of the New Year. January and February are perfect for reveling in the chilly weather by visiting snow and ice festivals. Each region has its own unique winter culture and specialty products as well as endless opportunities to enjoy an active winter in Korea.

December’s Lighting Festivals

Lighting Festival at The Garden of Morning Calm

Lighting Festival at The Garden of Morning Calm (Credit: The Garden of Morning Calm)

Period: December 4, 2020 - March 14, 2021
Venue: The Garden of Morning Calm
432, Sumogwon-ro, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do (경기도 가평군 상면 수목원로 432)

The Lighting Festival at the Garden of Morning Calm is one of the biggest light festivals in Korea, covering an area of nearly 330,000 ㎡ with lights. Decorated in different themes every year, the gleaming lights add a festive glow to the natural beauty of the garden throughout the winter season.

Boseong Tea Plantation Light Festival

Boseong Tea Plantation Light Festival

Period: Canceled for 2020
Venue: Korea Tea Culture Park,
775, Nokcha-ro, Boseong-gun, Jeollanam-do (전라남도 보성군 보성읍 녹차로 775)

The magical allure of Boseong Green Tea Plantation grows tenfold during the Boseong Tea Plantation Light Festival, as bright lights cast a cheery glow over the expansive fields. The themed spaces and exhibits bring the festive atmosphere to a whole new level.

New Year’s Sunrise Festivals

Seongsan Sunrise Festival

Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak

Period: December 30, 2020 - January 1, 2021 (All events to be contactless to prevent the spread of COVID-19)
Venue: Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone
284-12, Ilchul-ro, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do (제주특별자치도 서귀포시 성산읍 일출로 284-12)

Join the countdown and welcome the New Year at Jeju’s premier sunrise festival, Seongsan Sunrise Festival, taking place at Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone (also known as “Sunrise Peak”). In addition to the beautiful sunrise, the festival will also feature parades, performances, firework shows, the distribution of tteokguk (rice cake soup), and other events.

Ganjeolgot Sunrise Festival

Sunrise at Ganjeolgot Cape (Credit: Ulsan Metropolitan City)

Period: Undecided for 2020
Venue: Ganjeolgot Lighthouse
39-2, Ganjeolgot 1-gil, Ulju-gun, Ulsan (울산광역시 울주군 서생면 간절곶1길 39-2)

Ganjeolgot Cape is famous as a place to observe the earliest sunrise in Korea. People all across the nation gather to celebrate and watch the first sunrise of the New Year during the Ganjeolgot Sunrise Festival. Celebrations also include a wide array of events such as fireworks, eating tteokguk, and various performances. Attractions nearby include thick groves of pine trees, oddly shaped rock formations and Oegosan Onggi Village.

Homigot Sunrise Festival

Sunrise at Homigot Cape

Period: Canceled for 2020
Venue: Homigot Sunrise Plaza
136, Haemaji-ro, Nam-gu, Pohang-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do (경상북도 포항시 남구 호미곶면 해맞이로 136)

Homigot Sunrise Plaza at Homigot Cape is definitely one of the most popular places for watching the New Year’s sunrise due to its brilliant yellow and golden sunrise scenery. Main programs at the Homigot Sunrise Festival include various performances and fireworks as well as a tteokguk event that can feed up to 10,000 people.

Jeongdongjin Sunrise Festival

Sunrise at Jeongdongjin Beach

Period: Limited event for 2020
Venue: Sandglass Park at Jeongdongjin Beach
Jeongdongjin2-ri, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do (강원도 강릉시 강동면 정동진2리)

The large sandglass near Jeongdongjin Beach is a landmark of the area and the setting for Jeongdongjin Sunrise Festival. The sandglass takes one full year for the sand in the top bulb to completely fall to the bottom. When the clock strikes midnight, the sandglass is turned over once again as part of a grand ceremony, kicking off the brand-new year with fireworks and performances.

Gyeongpo Sunrise Festival

Sunrise at Gyeongpo Beach

Period: Limited event for 2020
Venue: Gyeongpo Beach
514, Changhae-ro, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do (강원도 강릉시 창해로 514)

Gyeongpo Beach is well-known for its beauty, which shows itself in different lights throughout the year. On New Year's Eve, people gather for Gyeongpo Sunrise Festival as they wait for the first sunrise while enjoying fireworks and participating in an array of programs and cultural events.

Yeosu Hyangiram Sunrise Festival

Sunrise at Hyangiram Hermitage

Period: Undecided for 2020
Venue:  Hyangiram Hermitage
60, Hyangiram-ro, Yeosu-si, Jeollanam-do (전라남도 여수시 돌산읍 향일암로 60)

Yeosu Hyangiram Sunrise Festival is an annual overnight festival attended by those who want to enjoy the view of the New Year’s sunrise. Various events, such as lighting of wish lanterns and a candle ceremony, are prepared for visitors to enjoy.

Active Festivals to Keep Warm

Pyeongchang Trout Festival

Pyeongchang Trout Festival (Credit: Pyeongchang Trout Festival Committee)

Period: Canceled for 2021
Venue: Odaecheon Stream festival grounds
562, Gyeonggang-ro, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do (강원도 평창군 진부면 경강로 3562)

Pyeongchang Trout Festival takes place annually in Pyeongchang-gun, the largest trout producer in Korea. Trout cultivated in the clear waters of Pyeongchang are popular for their rich and chewy texture. At the festival, visitors can enjoy ice fishing along with other fun activities such as barehanded fishing and sledding. The festival venue is also close to Alpensia Ski Resort and Yongpyong Ski Resort, where PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games took place.

Gapyeong Singsing Winter Festival

Gapyeong Singsing Winter Festival

Period: Undecided for 2021
Venue: 119, Gapyeongjebang-gil, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do (경기도 가평군 가평읍 가평읍가평제방길 119)

Gapyeong Singsing Winter Festival is famous for ice fishing for trout, where your catch can be eaten right away, raw or grilled! Other activities include ice sledding, riding bumper cars on snow, traditional experiences, and more. It is easy to reach Gapyeong simply by taking the ITX Cheongchun train from Yongsan Station. There are also popular attractions nearby such as Namiseom Island, The Garden of Morning Calm, and Petite France.

Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

Period: Undecided for 2021
Venue: Hwacheoncheon Stream festival grounds
137, Sancheoneo-gil, Hwacheon-gun, Gangwon-do (강원도 화천군 화천읍 산천어길 137)

Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival is held in the pristine natural environment around Hwacheoncheon Stream, the natural habitat of mountain trout and otters. One of the most popular programs at the festival is ice fishing, where people cut a hole through thick ice and try their luck at catching trout. Visitors can also brave the icy water and try catching fish barehanded. Helpful staff are available to ensure that even first-timers get a catch. Freshly caught fish can be consumed either raw or grilled on-site.

Inje Icefish Festival

Inje Icefish Festival (Credit: Inje-gun)

Period: Canceled for 2021
Venue: Inje Icefish festival grounds
555-2, Bupyeong-ri, Inje-gun, Gangwon-do (강원도 인제군 남면 부평리 555-2)

At Inje Icefish Festival, visitors can enjoy ice fishing and other exciting programs such as ice sledding, large icefish sledding, and snow slides. All the icefish caught by participants can be served as hoe (sliced raw fish) or deep-fried for a warm treat.

Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival

Taebaeksan Snow Festival (Credit: Taebaek-si)

Period: Canceled for 2021
Venue: Taebaeksan festival grounds
162, Cheonjedan-gil, Taebaek-si, Gangwon-do (강원도 태백시 천제단길 162)

Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival offers guests an array of events and activities that are sure to entertain everyone. In addition to performances and exquisite snow sculptures, visitors can participate in snow sledding with the beautiful Taebaeksan Mountain covered in snow as their backdrop.

Jeju Fire Festival

Jeju Fire Festival

Period: Undecided for 2021
Venue: Saebyeoloreum Volcanic Cone
San 59-8, Bongseong-ri, Aewol-eup, Jeju-si (제주시 애월읍 봉성리 산59-8)

Jeju Fire Festival is held annually to wish for a healthy and prosperous new year. Long ago, Jeju farmers would set fire to their fields to kill harmful bugs and encourage the growth of new grass for their cattle to graze on. In addition to a reenactment of this tradition, visitors can also experience the traditional lifestyle and practices of Korea's farmers, including a traditional wedding ceremony at the festival.

* Festival programs and schedules are subject to sudden changes based on the weather. Please check the information before visiting.

* This column was last updated in December 2020, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.


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