Spring is just around the corner! I look forward to the blooming cherry blossoms, blue skies and delicious strawberries everywhere! Korea is a popular travel destination during the months of April and May, because of the great weather and stunning Spring atmosphere. The scenery is magnificent, from the Canola flowers growing inside Mt. Hallasan's crater to the perfectly pictured Yeoido Cherry Blossom trees. Korea really is superb during this season and there are a lot of festivals to celebrate the arrival of Spring in Korea!
When you living and teaching in Korea you will become accustomed to a ''festival culture". Korea has many festivals to celebrate various holidays and seasons. Unlike other countries, Koreans really get-involved in their culture. Korean people support local communities and smaller rural towns by traveling countrywide to hosted festivals, where they enjoy the various delicacies and activities they have to offer. This helps generate tourism in the rural areas and help the smaller communities prosper.
There are plenty of Spring festivals coming up, beginning around March 19th till May 28th! Here are a list of the top 5 festivals to experience this Spring!
Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival April 1-10
If you live in Korea you have to experience a Cherry Blossom festival! Tourists usually choose Japan when thinking about where to see cherry blossom trees, but in recent years Korea has become hot on the radar for boasting some beautiful scenic cherry blossom festivals. There are plenty of regions and festivals to view cherry blossoms, especially down south in Jinhae, however the Yeouido Cherry Blossom festival located on the Han river in Seoul is just as good and easy to travel to from anywhere in Korea.
The festival runs from Yeongdongpo to Yeoudio along the Han River, and in the beginning of April it is just absolutely stunning! The cherry blossom trees line up the street for at least 5 km’s and cover the circumference of the island. The weather is favorable with blue skies and temperatures ranging around 16C and there is a sweet smell of Japanese apricot trees too. If you are in the area you should also take a stroll to Seoul Forest and Children’s Grand Park, where you can see cherry blossom trees and other colorful flowers in full bloom.
Where: Yeoido, Seoul
How to get there: Yeoido Station, Line 5 or 9, Exit 5.
Boseong Green Tea Festival May 4-8
A unique and traditional festival is the Boseong Tea Festival in South Jeolla province. Boseong and Hadong are known as the biggest green tea commercial areas in Korea. Boseong, the birthplace area of Korean green tea industry, is a rustic town that is growing with wild tea fields that date back to the Silla dynasty.
One of the best things to do is enjoy all the treats that Boseong Green Tea valley specifically makes. These treats include the delicious green tea ice-cream, green-tea noodles, green tea pork and plenty of green tea samples from all over the country. Of course you have to sample the local green teas of Hadong and Boseong in a traditional tea house!
When you are visiting Boseong you should take a trip to Mt. Jirisan. Jirisan National Park is famous for hiking and being one with nature. Plenty of Koreans and tourists alike travel down to South Jeolla province during the Spring and Fall, to enjoy the beautiful colors of the cherry blossoms and fall leaves. The park is filled with wildlife and one of the few places left in Korea where you might be able to spot a bear.
Where: Boseong-gun, Jeollanam-do
How to get there: Seoul Express Bus Terminal, 3hrs30mins
Nonsan Strawberry Festival March 30 – April 4
Oh my, if you love strawberries, then you will love this festival! The Nonsan Strawberry Festival is one of the most memorable festivals I have experienced while living and teaching in Korea. It was a unique festival that had delicious strawberries and strawberry-EVERYTHING! Korean cake bakers, come from all over the country, to bake traditional ttok cakes (rice-cake) with strawberry fillings and toppings. There is a cake competition on display where all bakers proudly discussing their creations.
Nonsan is home to some of the most delicious strawberries in Korea, and the festival allows visitors to pick and eat as many strawberries as they would like! However, if you would like to pick strawberries you must buy a ticket in advance, as the festival gets about 1,000 people per day!
The festival also boasts an array of ecological displays and colorful spring flowers! There is a great atmosphere at the festival and you can even buy a cake base and decorate the cake yourself with strawberries and cream! Other activities include face painting, cooking strawberry pancakes, and listening to festival music.
Other things to see in Nonsan include Gwanchosa Temple and Eunjin Meurak Buddhist statue dating back to the Goryeo period.
Where: Nonsan Stream, Nonsan, Chungcheongnam-do
How to get there: Seoul Center City Terminal, 2hrs40mins
Jindo Miracle Sea Road Festival April 7-10
The popular Jindo Miracle Sea Road Festival is one of the most traveled to festivals among tourists in Korea. People from all over the world come to see this exceptionally unique phenomenon known as “tidal harmonics” as the Jindo sea parts and visitors walk along the ocean floor in gumboots.
The Jindo Sea, surrounding Jindo Island in South Jeolla province, parts due to extremely low tides caused by the gravity of the moon and the sun. The festival was founded in 1975 after a French Ambassador, Pierre Landy. labelled it as the “Korean Version of Moses.” The sea opens up about 2.9 km’s of pathway from Jindo Island to Modo Island.
It is recommended that you take a leisurely walk from Jindo Island to Modo Island as you watch the local Koreans collect seafood, shells and seaweed out of the rock pools.
Jindo Island is also famous for the locally bred dog called the Jindo. There is a breeding center on the island for any dog lovers, and interestingly enough the Jindo dog is under a Cultural Properties Protection Act, where no other dogs may come to the island unless they have been sterilized beforehand.
Where: Jindo Island, Jeollanam-do
How to get there: Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, 4hrs30mins
Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival May 6-8
The Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival is to celebrate Buddah’s birthday. In Jong-ro district, people walk along a street in Seoul holding lanterns, starting from Dongguk University and ending at Jogyesa Temple in Insadong.
The parade is filled with large paper sculptures with Asian relics on them such as dragons and fish, and all along Jogyesa Temple and Cheongyechon Steam there will be colorful paper lanterns on display. This festival is probably one of the most joyous festivals in Korea, filled with color and beautiful Korean women dressed in traditional Hanbok’s carrying bright lotus lanterns made from traditional lighting materials.
The festival began nearly 1,300 years ago, during the Silla dynasty, and was formally known as the Yeon Deung Hoe festival.
Where: Jogyesa Temple, Jongno-gu, Seoul
How to get there: Jonggak Station, Line 1, Exit 2
It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people. After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email email@example.com to request more information on teaching in Korea!