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A Must-See While Teaching in Korea: Seoul Lantern Festival

Posted on Wed, Nov 05, 2014 @ 10:53 AM

Falling leaves, brisk temperatures, and light scarves? Autumn has absolutely hit Korea, which means one of my favorite festivals in Seoul is about to start. On display for the majority of November, the Seoul Lantern Festival will feature lanterns on platforms in the Cheonggyecheon stream in central Seoul. Read on to get an idea of what to expect from this year's festival including directions, and helpful tips for planning your visit!

seoul lantern festival

Lantern festivals are a must-see while you're in Korea. In April/May is the big Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul to celebrate Buddha's birthday (as well as smaller lantern displays at temples all over the country!), Jinju hosts their own stunning lantern festival in October, and then the Seoul Lantern Festival ushers in the colder temperatures in November. 

The Seoul Lantern Festival's sixth year kicks off November 7th with the theme "Seoul's Gleaming World Heritages." The displays of lanterns are divided into four sections, which will show off Korea's history as well as lanterns that represent other cultures and the festival's sponsors. Some of the displays are a single lantern on a platform in the stream, others are much larger installations. Some of them even move! It seems like each year, the lantern makers up the ante with their creations. 

seoul lantern festival

Directions & Information:

  • Festival dates: November 7th through November 23rd.

  • To get there: Jonggak Station, Seoul Metro Line 1, Exit 4 or 5; Euljiro 1-ga Station, Seoul Metro Line 2, Exit 2 or 3. From any of those exits, the entrance to the festival, Cheonggye Plaza, is about a 5 minute walk.

  • Hours: Lanterns are on display all day, though they are only lit up in the evenings. Closes at 11pm.

  • Admission: Free! Some hands-on experience programs will charge a small fee.

Tips for Attending:

  • The line to enter the festival is often quite long in the evenings, so get ready to wait. Usually, it moves fairly quickly, so it shouldn't be too bad.

  • That being said, be ready to battle crowds... If you're at all claustrophobic or don't feel too keen about slowly trudging along the sidewalk next to the stream, I would recommend going on a weeknight or during the day. On the weekend evenings, the paths on either side of the Cheonggyecheon are absolutely packed with people, so if you'll be visiting the festival during this time, come prepared with patience and maybe snacks.

  • Have fully charged batteries on any phones or cameras! There are tons of gorgeous lanterns every year, so you'll want to take pictures.

  • Budget about 2 hours to wander both sides of the Cheonggyecheon. 

  • Seeing the lanterns lit up is ideal -- I would recommend going in the early evening so you can see them in both daylight and at night.

seoul lantern festival

This festival was one of the first things I saw in Seoul when I arrived for Chungdahm's training week back in November of 2011, so it holds a special place in my nostalgic heart. Bundling up and leisurely strolling along the Cheonggyecheon is a wonderful evening activity, and the lanterns are truly beautiful. Make sure you check out a lantern festival while you're here! 

Have you been to any of Korea's lantern festivals? Which one is your favorite? Leave a comment below! 

Teach in Korea!


Between studying Japanese and Asian culture in university and setting her sights on a teaching career, it came as no surprise when Zannah Smreker announced that she was moving to South Korea to teach for Chungdahm Learning. In November 2011, Zannah accepted a position through Aclipse with the Songdo branch in Incheon, just southwest of Seoul. When she's not teaching, she keeps herself busy with exploring Korea, eating all the street food, and hunting down strange Engrish shirts. Check out her blog and her Instagram for more of her adventures!

Tags: Teach English in Korea, Teach Abroad, Teach in Asia, festival, festivals, seoul, things to do, lanterns, lantern festival, seoul lantern festival, Activities to do in Korea, Weekend activities in Korea

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