Every year, Busan (Korea's second largest city) plays host to the Busan International Fireworks festival. With over one million people (including many English teachers) flocking to Gwangali Beach where the fireworks are staged, it makes it one of the largest festivals in South Korea, and is certainly worth a visit. In fact, this is my second year attending the festival. and when you see the pictures you'll know why.
(some of the amazing colors from the fireworks, reflecting off the sea).
Last year, when I and the other English teachers from my school attended the fireworks festival we got a 7am KTX from Daegu, which we had booked in advance. We then arrived at Gwangalli Beach at around 3pm to pick a prime spot. We stayed there until the start of the festival, which was at 8pm. While you may think this is rather early, it proved essential – by the time 6pm came around, there was not one patch of sand visible. The entire beach was taken over by people waiting to see the fireworks, likewise, every café, bar and restaurant on the beach front was full (every table booked weeks in advance).
(Amazing sunset reflecting off Marine City, Busan).
This year, with the help of my good Korean friends, we decided to book a table on the beach front. So, instead of arriving hours in advance, we were reassured that we would have a spot in a good location without the need to wait for hours and hours to beat the crowds. We arrived at our table just in time to see the sunset, which was amazing. While booking a table was kind of expensive, $50 per person, it did include all of our drinks and food for the entire evening. Which, if you factor in time and convenience was not too bad seeing that we ate our fill, and we certainly did not go thirsty!
(selfi-sticks, all the rage in South Korea these days).
Once the fireworks got underway at 8pm (after a couple of pre-show teasers which the crowds really enjoyed) it was amazing. One hour filled with all kinds of fireworks, from different shapes including hearts and even some Korean writing, to some of the largest explosions I have ever seen, the music accompanying the show was also very good, with hits ranging from English, Korean and even Italian. It made the whole festival feel really magical. Having been last year, I had high expectations; however, this year was even better than last year’s Firework festival:
(some of the amazing colours and different fireowkrs)
(Love Hearts: to accompany a traditional Korean love song)
After the fireworks, our night was just beginning. We stayed at the restaurant for an hour, until the crowds outside had gone, and then we headed to a fish market at the corner of Gwangalli for some Hwe (traditional Korean raw fish). We selected our fish and they cut it up for us there. We then got some Soju and sat by the water, which overlooked the bridge (it was amazing) We spent the night talking about how good the festival was, and started planning where we will sit for next year’s one.
(traditional Korean sushi, or Hwe caught 20 minutes prior - so delicious).
(Amazing view, the lights on the bridge change color, it's a show in itself).
We did not know what time we would return to Daegu the following day so did not reserve any tickets. The following day we decided to visit a very famous temple in Busan, which is located right on the sea; Haedong Yeonggungsa, and even though it was a Sunday, it was very busy. Both the temple and the views were amazing.
(amazing weather on Sunday, ideal for a temple visit).
I knew that this festival was going to be good, and I was not wrong. The whole weekend was amazing. From the fireworks, to sitting by the bridge after the festival, to visiting the water temple the following day, everything was just perfect. The weather was also great. Even though last year was good, the weather was a little chilly. However, this year the weather was perfect. One of the best things about living, and teaching English in South Korea, is that there are festivals like this all around the country, whether it’s the Seoul, Pohang or Busan, Fireworks festival, or the Andong Mask festival or the Seoul Lantern Festival, or finally even the Daegu Chicken festival to name a few. South Korea is filled with fun and interesting things to do on a weekly basis, and best of all; these festivals are usually free. This is just one of the reasons why teaching English in South Korea is so great.
John May grew up in Dublin, Ireland where he is from & went to Trinity College – one of Irelands best known universities. He graduated from here in November 2012 with a B.A. (Mod) in Geography & Sociology. John has always had a passion for travelling and having been to most of Europe, he decided to explore Asia after Uni. He has always wanted to teach and thought what better way to travel than teaching English on the way. John is currently teaching English for CDI in Daegu, South Korea a position he found through Aclipse; John felt nervous before his departure, but now that he is in Korea he loves every minute of it. For more information follow his blog.