South Korea is known for its memorable festivals. While many of these festivals have been canceled due to COVID, it is only a matter of time before they are all fully open. What makes South Korean festivals so special is that they offer something different for every traveler. However, all the festivals incorporate a bit of South Korea’s rich and unique culture. We arranged the list according to the time it takes place so feel free to check back often to see which festival will be coming up. While there are hundreds of festivals in Korea, we narrowed the list down to the best of the best. We will continue to update the list if we come across any other festivals in Korea worth adding to the list.
Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival
The Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival takes place on a frozen river of Gangwon Province. It is one of the most unforgettable winter festivals in Korea. People come here mainly for trout fishing. You can catch the fish with your bare hands or from drilled ice holes. This is one of the most popular winter festivals in Korea. You can eat what you catch which makes this an unforgettable experience. Other activities include building a snowman, sledding, snow tunnel building, and ice soccer. The Ice Festival takes place between January 9 – 31.
Address: Gangwon-do, Hwacheon-gun, Hwacheon-eup, Jung-ri, 196
Jeju Fire Festival
If you visit South Korea, it is a must to also visit Jeju island which is the “Hawaii” of South Korea. It takes a little over an hour by plane. The best time to go is from February 28 – March 3. This is when the Jeju Fire Festival takes place. The festival is for welcoming the new year and burning away old grass before the next farming season. It is amazing to see the huge fires at night. During the day makes sure to check out the folk dances, torch marches, and tribal games throughout Jeju.
Address: Saebyeol Oreum San 59-8, Bongseong-ri, Ayeol-eup Jeju-si, Jeju-do
Cherry Blossom Festival
The best place to see cherry blossoms is in Yeouido. They hold their famous Cherry Blossom Festival from April 1 – 15 every year. While cherry blossoms can be seen all around Seoul, come to Yeouido because they close down streets so visitors can enjoy the cherry blossom in a peaceful setting. At night they light up the cherry blossoms and hold street performances and exhibitions.
Address: Yeouiseo-ro, Yeoeuido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul
Boryeong Mud Festival
Boryeong Mud Festival takes place between July 17-27. It is one of South Korea’s most popular summer festivals. Many international travelers come to South Korea just for this festival which takes place in Boryeong (a few hours south of Seoul). It is near Daecheon Beach which is known for its nutrient-rich mud that offers a variety of health benefits for the skin. There are many activities you can do at the mud festival such as rides, sports, arts and crafts, and skin therapy. Don’t forget to check out live Kpop performances and EDM music at the Mud-M event.
Address: 897-15, Daehae-ro, Boryeong-si, Chungcheongnam-do
Muju Firefly Festival
The Muju Firefly Festival happens every fall in Muju which is a natural habitat for fireflies. This is because Muju also has marsh snails which the fireflies feed on. There are many activities during the Muju Firefly Festival, however, the must-see attraction is the night walk which really showcases the fireflies. The festival lasts 9 days and occurs between August 31 – September 8. It is best to go September 3-4 which is when the fireflies are at their max capacity. In addition to the night nature walk, remember to also check out dance performances, talent shows, taekwondo exhibitions, trout catching by the river, and flying lanterns.
Address: 326-17, Hanpungnu-ro, Muju-gun, Jeollabuk-do
Gwangju World Culture Kimchi Festival
You can’t come to Korea until you at least check out one Kimchi Festival. The biggest kimchi festival takes place in Gwangju. The Gwangju World Culture Kimchi Festival features various activities related to kimchi. This includes kimchi-making tutorials/competitions and cooking classes. There is also a large kimchi market where you can purchase a variety of kimchi styles. Gwangju is also a great place to find some of the best pensions in Korea. The festival takes place in early October so make sure you check it out.
Address: Gwangju Kimchi Town 60, Gimchi-ro, Nam-gu, Gwangju
Busan International Film Festival
Those that loved the Academy Award-winning Korean film Parasite will love the Busan International Film Festival. Think of it as the Sundance Film Festival for South Korea. It takes place between October 21-30. It is a 10-day festival that brings together Korean celebrities from both film and drama. In addition, international media and fans come from around the world to check out the latest Korean films.
Since it is located in Busan it is also a must to check out Haeundae Beach which is one of the most popular beaches in Korea. Many of the film screenings take place at the Busan Cinema Center which is located in Centum City. It offers over 30 screens and during the festival over 300 films are showcased from over 70 countries.
Address: 120, Suyeonggangbyeon-daero, Haeundae-gu, Busan
Busan Fireworks Festival
In 2020, the Busan Fireworks Festival was canceled due to COVID. However, there is a high chance that the festival will be back in 2021. It is held at Gwangalli Beach between Oct 21 -29. It is one of the biggest fireworks festivals in all of Asia. On average, the festival uses over 10,000 fireworks which in combination with lasers really light up the sky in harmony with theme songs. On average the festival attracts 2 million visitors a year. Therefore, most hotels and beaches are filled which causes major traffic jams. This is the only negative aspect of the festival. However, if you go early and avoid the busy streets, this will be one of the most memorable events to visit in Korea.
Seoul Lantern Festival
Every year in early November, there is the Seoul Lantern Festival along Cheonggyecheon which is a man-made stream near Myeongdong. Here you will see impressive lantern structures along the kilometers-long stream. The themes are different every single year but all incorporate some elements of Korean culture. In addition, you can make your own floating lantern and set it afloat along the stream. The lanterns are lit between 5 to 11 pm every night.
Address: Cheonggyecheon Stream, Seoul South Korea
Pyeongchang Trout Festival
The Pyeongchang Trout Festival can be enjoyed for the whole winter season. The festival takes place between December 28th and ends the following year on February 2nd. Pyeongchang is where the 2018 Winter Olympics were held. It is about 3 hours drive from Seoul and is located on the east coast of South Korea. There you can do some open-ice fishing as well as bare-banded fishing. Fishing rods can be bought at the festival. However, ice fishing which is the main attraction might not be open if the ice is too thin. Moreover, it is also great for children as there is snow tubing, ice skating, and sledding. Don’t worry about finding a place to eat as there are food courts and food stands all around the festival.
Can you think of other interesting Festivals in Korea? Please let us know in the comments and we will update the article!