Seoul Lantern Festival

Kamari Koonce

             Every year the city of Seoul has a huge festival in November called Seoul Lantern Festival. This year the festival runs from November 2nd through November 18th. I thought it would be a great way to spend the weekend, so I gathered some friends and we went on a Saturday night. I think the best time to get there might be around 7 pm or when the sun fully sets. This year the festival began at 5 pm and ends at 11 pm. To find the beginning of the festival you will take Exit 2 or Exit 3 of Euljiro 1-ga Station and then walk for about 5 minutes. In total the walk lasted about 30-45 minutes and was slightly rocky at times so it was a really good decision to wear sneakers that night.

The festival has dance performances, street vendors, and lights along the stream. One really cool thing they let visitors do is light “Make a Wish” lanterns. They were only 5,000 won and you could set one afloat into the stream. Some of my friends were more interested in the street food, so we spent a lot of time above the stream. One of them got dried octopus and I ate a corndog with the rest of the group. I would’ve liked to try something else instead, but there were so many people that we just found the closest booth with an average number of people waiting in line.

The lights were all grouped into 4 different themes this year. The four themes are: The Launch Point for a New Dream, Seoul’s Dream for the Future, Seoul’s Shining Memories, and Seoul Filled with Traditions. My favorite theme was probably the Seoul Filled with Traditions. At a lot of cultural sites in Korea there isn’t English subtitles or information boxes for every artifact. That’s why I appreciated this festival because under each lantern float there was a description both in English and Korean. At times, it was hard to stop and take pictures while we were walking along the stream because it was so busy. But it was definitely worth the wait to get the pictures of the floats. When the festival finished my friends and I went bowling nearby because it was still early into the night.

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Overall I do recommend going to Seoul Lantern Festival this year or the next if you cannot make it. The best time to go is probably early November rather than later since the weather is starting to drop. The festival is a great time to relax with friends and the best part is that the event is free. You will have the opportunity to try so many new foods and see many different performances from local artists at the festival. Additionally, you will see what Korea has planned for the next generation.

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