Where to go for illuminations, other holiday fun in Korea!

Photo by Hyemin Lee
Photo by Hyemin Lee

Where to go for illuminations, other holiday fun in Korea!

by Hyemin Lee
Stripes Korea

One of the highlights of the holiday season in Korea is the beautiful illuminations that light up streets, malls, parks, and other venues across the country. Koreans fill the streets to enjoy the Christmas lights with family and friends and take memorable photos together! The following list are great places to enjoy the illuminations and other fun activities. I picked the spots everyone on Korean social media is talking about now, so take a look and then get out and make the holiday season one to remember!

SHOPPING MALLS

Like most countries, the holiday season is a big commercial event for shopping malls in Korea. Hanging out at a mall is great way to enjoy Christmas decorations and participate in cultural activities. The three big department store companies– Hyundai, Lotte and Shinsegae – have branches all over Korea, so you can simply pick whichever is closest. Here are seven of the most popular malls to visit now!

 

The Hyundai Seoul

This mall has a beautiful winter village featuring decorated wooden cabins, giant Christmas trees and tons of cute stuffed bears on the 5th floor. It also offers a special light show three times a day. It’s a good place for photos and for dates, so I must warn you that there will be long lines at the popular photo zones.

• Dates: Until Dec. 25 (can be extended)

• Hours: 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Mon-Thu)

    & 10:30 a.m.– 8:30 p.m. (Fri-Sun)

• Light show on the 5th floor: 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m.

    & 7:30 p.m. (5 minutes for each show)

• Reservation: Reservation needed to enter the 5th floor on weekends (available on-site)

• Address: Line 5, Youinaru Station Exit 1 NAVER MAP

• Other branches with the same concept: Apgujeong, Gangnam, Pangyo


Photo by Hyemin Lee 

 

Lotte Department Store (Myeong-dong)

Lotte Department Store has its main branch in Myeong-dong, one of the busiest streets during the holiday season. Lotte is inviting you on its Christmas Dream Moment Trip. The mall is decorated as a European-style hotel and garden with thousands of warm lights!

• Dates: Until Dec. 31 (can be extended)

• Hours: 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Mon-Thu) & 10:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. (Fri-Sun)

• Exterior lighting: 5 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

• Address: Line 2, Ulchiro1-ga exit NAVER MAP

• Another branch with the same concept: Jamsil


Photo by Hyemin Lee 

 

Shinsegae Department Store (Myeong-dong)

This is another main branch in Myeong-dong and has one of the must-see holiday lights. The exterior illumination display features over one million LED lights depicting colorful Christmas scenes.

• Dates: Until Dec. 31 (can be extended)

• Hours: 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Mon-Thu)

     & 10:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. (Fri-Sun)

• Exterior lighting: 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.

• Address: Line 4, Hoehyeon Station Exit 7 NAVER MAP


Photo by Hyemin Lee 

 

Times Square Seoul

This is a large multipurpose shopping mall which contains Shinsegae Department Store, a multiplex theater, cultural spaces, and a lot of stores and restaurants. It’s one of the best malls to find unique Christmas items at pop-up stores and enjoy a variety of holiday decorations.

• Dates: Until Dec. 31 (can be extended)

• Hours: 10:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.

• Address: Line 1, Yeongdeungpo station exit 6 NAVER MAP


Photo by Hyemin Lee 

 

Starfield COEX

Starfield COEX has a huge and beautiful library, and it’s a very famous spot to take pictures. The beautifully decorated giant Christmas tree in front the library makes it an even better photo op.

• Dates: Until Dec. 31 (can be extended)

• Hours: 10:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.

• Address: Line 2, Samsung Station Exit 7 NAVER MAP


Photo courtesy of Starfield COEX mall

 

Starfield Hanam

Many children beg their parents to bring them to this mall to meet Pokémon friends enjoying the snowy winter! See the special Pikachu tree, Santa, and snowman at Starfield Hanam. Better yet, all Starfield City branches are decked out in Pokémon Christmas decorations.

• Dates: Until Jan. 12

• Hours: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

• Address: Line 5 Hanam Geomdansan station exit 1 NAVER MAP

• Other branches with the same concept: Bucheon, Wirye, Myeongji (Starfield City)

 

Starfield Anseong (Lego Fantasy Garden)

Starfield Anseong is only eight miles away from Camp Humphreys and is a favorite among the locals and base community. This season, visitors can enjoy the mall’s Lego Fantasy Garden with many activities for the kids and whole family.

• Dates: Until Jan. 10 

• Hours: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

• Address: 3930-39 Seodong-daero, Anseong, Gyeonggi-do NAVER MAP

• Another branch with the same concept: Starfield Goyang


Photo by Jian Lee

 LIGHT FESTIVALS  

The holiday makeover goes beyond the shopping areas, so you’ll find many of Korea’s famous streets, rivers, beaches and parks also get the festive treatment. The sparkling light displays transform the chilly winter areas into warm, special places, with some giving off a romantic vibe. Take your loved ones to one of these spots to make beautiful memories and snap some photos!

 

Cheonggyeocheon Stream Light Festival (Seoul)

Cheonggyeocheon Stream is a famous destination during Christmas season because it has two light festivals: Seoul Light Festival (Gwanghwamun Square) and The Light of Cheonggyeocheon (Cheonggyeocheon Square). You can enjoy both in the same area!

• Dates: Dec. 16 – Dec. 31

• Hours: 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

• Address: Line 5, Gwanghwamun Station Exit 2-5 NAVER MAP


Photo courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization 

 

Suseong Light Festival (Daegu)

This event is held at Suseongmot Lake, which is about 2.5 miles from Camp Walker and Camp Henry. You won’t regret taking a walk in the chilly winter near the lake once you see the colorful lights reflecting on the lake.

• Dates: Dec. 9 – Jan. 2

• Hours: 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.

• Address: (Daegu) Suseongmot Station Exit 1 NAVER MAP


Photo courtesy of Suseong district office 

 

Haeundae Light Festival (Busan)

The night view of Haeundae Beach is filled with countless warm lights during the holiday season.

• Dates: Until Jan. 24

• Hours: 5:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.

• Address: (Busan) Line 2, Haeundae Station Exit 5 NAVER MAP


Photo courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization 

 

Busan Christmas Tree Cultural Festival

This popular annual winter event in Busan has an energetic festive vibe. Locals flock to this street for beautiful holiday decorations, concerts, street performances and good food!

• Dates: Dec. 17 – Jan. 29

• Address: (Busan) Line 1, Nampo Station Exit 1


Photo courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization 

 

THEME PARKS

Korea’s many theme parks are arguably some of the best spots for enjoying the Christmas lights and holiday season. The theme parks themselves tend to be in the mountains or outside of the cities, so they make for a great holiday destination. All the gardens on the list have starlight gardens lit up every day of the year except the Garden of Morning Calm.

Pocheon Herb Island

Pocheon Herb Island is 11 miles from Camp Casey and features a starlight garden, Santa’s Village, Venice Village, dinosaur park and herb aroma healing events. Herb Island features a light festival year-round but it’s even more fantastic during the holiday season.

• Dates: Until Mar. 31

• Hours: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. (Sun-Fri)

    & 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. (Sat) / Closed (Wed)

• Lighting: From 5:30 p.m.

• Ticket: 9,000 won ($6.70) for adults

• More information: Visit Korea website

• Address: Cheongsin-ro, Pocheon-si, Gyeonggi-do NAVER MAP


Photo courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization 

 

The Garden of Morning Calm

The Garden of Morning Calm is a popular attraction because of its peaceful atmosphere and beautiful plants and flowers. The holiday season, however, is certainly the best time to visit because this is when the garden hosts one of the largest light festivals on the Peninsula.

• Dates: Dec. 9 – Mar. 19

• Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. (Sun-Fri)

    & 8:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. (Sat)

• Lighting: From 5 p.m.

• Ticket: 11,000 won ($ 8.2) for adults

• Address: Sumokwon-ro, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do NAVER MAP

Website


Photo courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization 

 

Paju First Garden

Paju is one of the best cities for lovebirds because it has a lot of romantic attractions such as Provence and Heyri Art Village, but First Garden is the best dating spot! The garden is composed of a Greek park, flower garden, water garden and more. Also, it has an amusement park, drive-in theater and fun event areas to play with animals and experience traditional games.

• Dates: Until Jan. 1 (Can be extended)

• Hours: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

• Lighting: From 5:30 p.m.

• Ticket: 9,000 won ($ 6.7) (Mon-Fri) & 12,000 won ($ 9) (Sat-Sun & Holidays) for adults

• Address: 260 Tapsakgol-gil, Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do NAVER MAP


Photo courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization 

 

Ansan Starlight Village Photo Land

This starlight garden features Animal & Heart Village Light Festival year-round. In Animal Village, you can take a wild adventure with over 200 illuminated animals, giraffes, lions, pandas, elephants and more. The village is also decorated with thousands of romantic lights so many couples hang out here in the evening. And, for an extra charge, you can also try exploring a mirror maze and riding bumper cars!

• Hours: 3 p.m. – 11 p.m.

• Lighting: From 5 p.m.

• Ticket: 8,000 won ($ 6) for adults

• Address: Line 4, Jungang station exit 1 NAVER  MAP


Photo courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization 

 

Icheon Starlight Garden Universe

If you’re driving along the Yeongdong Expressway, stop at the Deokpyeong Eco-Service Area, for beautiful illuminations. During the day, it’s free to enter and you can enjoy taking a walk in beautiful European Gardens. At night, it transforms into starlight universe with fabulous lights and displays.

• Dates: Until Mar. 31

• Hours: 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. (can vary due to the weather)

• Ticket: 12,000 won ($ 9) for adults

• Address: Deokpyeong Eco-Service Area NAVER MAP


Photo courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization 

 

Cheondo Provence

Cheondo Provence is about 16 miles from Camp Walker and Camp Henry, and features Santa Village Light Festival with over 100 photo zones. It’s a wonderful place to visit with friends and family and great for an overnight stay in one of the many travel trailers or hotels because Cheongdo county boasts other good attractions like a wine tunnel and bullfight stadium.

• Dates: Until Mar. 31

• Hours: 3 p.m. – 10 p.m. / Closed (Wed)

• Ticket: 10,000 won ($ 7.5) for adults

• Address: 272-23 Iseulmi-ro, Cheongdo-gun, Gyeongbuk NAVER MAP


Photo courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization 

AMUSEMENT PARKS

A musement parks offer different themes for the holiday season, but all have wonderful holiday illuminations! Discounted ticket prices run from 20,000 to 40,000 won ($15-30) for an adult day pass. Scan the QR codes.

Lotte World – Miracle Winter

• Dates: Dec. 19 – Dec. 31

• Hours: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. (Mon-Thu) & 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. (Fri-Sat)

• Ticket: Discount available on Klook

• Address: Line 2 & 8, Jamsil Station Exit 4 NAVER MAP


Photo courtesy of Lotte World 

 

Everland – Winter Wish

• Dates: Dec. 3 – Mar. 1

• Hours: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Mon-Thu) & 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. (Fri-Sat)

• Ticket: Discount available on Klook

• Address: 199 Everland-ro, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do NAVER MAP


Photo courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization 

 

Seoul Land – Light Festival at Lunar Park

• Hours: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Mon-Thu) & 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. (Fri-Sun)

• Ticket: Discount available on Klook

• Address: Line 4, Seoul Grand Park Station Exit 5 NAVER MAP


Photo courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization 

 

Daegu E-World illumination

• Dates: Until Feb 28

• Hours: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. (Mon-Thu) & 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. (Fri-Sat)

• Ticket: Discount available on Trazy

• Address: (Daegu) Line 2, Naedang Station Exit 2 NAVER MAP


Photo courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization 

ICE SKATING RINKS  

What’s the winter season without a little ice skating? There are many rinks around Korea and ice rinks at Olympic Park and Han River are popular, too. Here are my favorite top three spots where you can ice skate until late night with illuminations nearby. All ticket prices include skate rental.

Seoul Plaza

The plaza transforms into a big outdoor ice-skating rink every winter. It’s a great winter attraction where you can enjoy ice skating at low price and brilliant Christmas decorations in the evening!

• Dates: Dec. 16 – Feb. 5

• Hours: 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. (Sun-Thu) & 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. (Fri-Sat)

• Ticket: 1,000 won ($0.74) for an hour

• More information: Visit Korea website

• Address: Line 2, City Hall Station Exit 5 NAVER MAP


Photo courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization 

 

Lotte World Ice Rink

Lotte World has an ice rink open 365 days a year, and it’s absolutely one of the best spots to enjoy Christmas lights and ice-skating at the same time. You can see thousands of holiday lights in Lotte World, Lotte World Tower and Lotte Department Store close by the rink.

• Hours: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. 

• Ticket: 19,000 won ($14) (Mon-Fri) & 21,000 won ($15.6) (Sat-Sun & Holidays) for adults

• Address: Line 2 & 8, Jamsil Station exit 4 NAVER MAP


Photo courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization 

 

Grand Hyatt Hotel

Grand Hyatt is a great spot to spend a luxury holiday vacation. The outdoor swimming pool turns into a big ice rink for the winter season. It’s beautiful to ice skate with the thousands of warm Christmas lights decorated in the hotel garden.

• Hours: Noon – 9 p.m.

• Ticket: 48,000 won ($36) (Mon-Fri) & 53,000 won ($39.5) (Sat-Sun & Holidays)

• Address: 322 Sowol-Ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul NAVER MAP


Photo courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization 

 

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