Seoul Lantern Festival

This time, while living in Seoul, South Korea, I attended the Seoul Lantern Festival. While last year’s theme was the ” Illuminated Seoul Tour “, this year’s theme is ” Seoul Lantern Festival 2016 ( 서울빛초롱축제 )  . ”

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This festival is located in Cheonggyecheon Plaza (청계광장) to Supyogyo Bridge (수표교). To go there you can use Google Map or Naver (if you understand Korean of course ) and just copy-paste : 14, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul ( 서울특별시 종로구 서린동 14 ). The duration of the festival is from November 4, 2016, to November 20, 2016, so you can still make it ! The performance time (Lighting hours) is from 17:00-23:00 and the admission is free !

Regarding the Seoul Lantern Festival, it is sponsored by a lot of organisms such as Seoul Metropolitan Government (서울특별시), Cultural Heritage Administration (문화재청), Seoul Lantern Festival Joint Promotional Committee (서울빛초롱축제조직위원회), Seoul Tourism Organization (서울관광마케팅).

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You can find on the website a quick description who gives the big picture of what you can expect: ‘’ Since its inception in 2009, the annual Seoul Lantern Festival, one of the representative festivals in Seoul, is held throughout the period from the first Friday of November to the third Sunday of November. Every year nearly 3 million visitors can expect to see lanterns along the 1.2km Cheonggyecheon Stream with various things to see stretching all the way from Cheonggye Plaza and Supyogyo Bridge. ’’

While walking through The Seoul Lantern Festival, you can see a lot of elements of the past, mixed with cultural traditions and evolution through the decades. The big huge lanterns you can see all over the Hangang River are presented in a Museum way. By that, I mean that you can have the same feeling you can feel while visiting a historical museum. But this one is kind of unique because you experience all those colorful lanterns on the river. I was speaking with an old couple who explained to me that The Hangang River is a very central signification for Seoul people because ‘’Hangang means ‘large river’, and the river has been a vital part of the daily lives of locals over many years and generations ”( ) .

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If you believe that there are only giant lanterns, you are wrong. Indeed, some of them are ‘mechanical’. By that, I insinuate that some are made of metal and can move. The best example to illustrate what I want to share with you is a giant peacock bright and illuminated which opened and closed its tail. All passengers of the festival have to stop taking a picture or to take a self-image (selfie) and share it on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapshat, etc.

Also, if you are hungry, you have the choice between several small stands offering the yummy ” street food ” which is a thousand times better than the junk food you can find in western countries. At the sides of these foods stands, there are several others that provide other services. For example, you can find travel agencies that offer great promotions, a stand who offers glasses to correct your vision with super fashionable ones, a company that will print your photo in 3D to create a collection of figurines, and more!

What other things you can do or expect in that festival ? Actually, you have four others ‘Additional activities’ related to that festival such as 1) Lantern-making contest (prior-program), 2) Hanging a wish lantern (registration required in advance), 3) Floating a wish lantern (advanced registration / on-site purchasing), and 4) Hanging a new year’s wish paper (on-site purchasing).

With all those activities, it is worth the walk !


Article by Malek from Canada


Sources :


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