Whew, get ready for a picture heavy post! Since coming to South Korea, I’ve been on the hunt for things to do. One of the great things about South Korea is that there are so many festivals and activities happening all over the country all year long! It’s super easy to find something do. Since I just started a new job, I wanted to find some very cheap or even free things to do until I got my first paycheck.When I heard that the Seoul Lantern Festival was taking place from November 1st to the 17th along Seoul’s famous Cheonggyecheon stream, I knew I had to check it out. Better yet, it was free!
Score for someone waiting for their paycheck. The Seoul Lantern Festival is just a cheap subway ride away! 😀
Since the Seoul Lantern Festival is a free event the queue was extremely long! I waited in line for two hours. I went on the weekend in the evening so it was even worse. I was getting agitated at the line moving so slowly but I hoped that seeing the lanterns would be worth it. Considering how many people were queuing, the line was actually going pretty fast. This year’s theme for the festival was Baekje culture, one of the three kingdoms of South Korea from 18 BCE to 660 CE.
I was armed with my camera to take pictures but right when I was able to enter the Cheonggyecheon stream there were workers yelling at people stopping. They wanted to keep everyone moving but I was insistent that I should get some pictures and actually enjoy the lanterns! What is the point of queuing for so long if you can’t even take a good look at them? I can understand that they want people to get through as fast as possible… but still!
The lanterns were beautiful! I read online that both local and international artists contributed lanterns for the festival. They all represented different parts of Korean culture. My favorite lantern was the circle design on the side of the bridge! So beautiful. I had to really rush to take a good picture of it because it was a very popular lantern and the workers were really fierce about people moving along. 🙁 After we passed this part, there was a nice place under the bridge to sit on the steps and enjoy the stream. There were so many couples being all lovey dovey.
A lot of the lanterns changed colors and moved. There were even a few light shows on the sides of the walls as well. I was really enjoying the variety in size, color and theme. But honestly I was starting to get very agitated by people shoving and stopping in tight areas, making it hard to pass. The Cheonggyecheon is just too narrow at many parts for that many people! There were so many people stopping to take pictures and things like that, so traffic kept getting jammed. To make it worse, it started raining when I was about halfway through. You can’t even exit easily, you have to follow the crowd until you find an exit. There aren’t that many for the Seoul Lantern Festival.
After it started raining, I decided to just exit because I didn’t have an umbrella. Even if I did it was too crowded to really use it easily! I finally go through to the exit and then I realized the whole reason that it was so crowded is because that path was too narrow and people were exiting there. So actually it was way more open after the exit! I was so annoyed… even though I saw most of the Seoul Lantern Festival, I missed the very last part.
I wish it wasn’t so crowded, so I could really enjoy it. The lanterns were beautiful! Near the end, they had this absolutely gorgeous tree all lit up. The color combination was beautiful! Even though it was so crowded, I still enjoyed it. It is free after all, so a lot of people were going to the Cheonggyecheon stream to see everything. If you are visiting Seoul in 2014, the Seoul Lantern Festival is definitely worth a visit! Try going in the morning during a weekday so that you can hopefully beat the crowd.
To get to the Cheonggyecheon stream and enjoy the Seoul Lantern Festival, get on the subway and exit at:
Euljiro 1-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 2 or 3.
Jonggak Station (Subway Line 1), Exit 5.
Gwanghwamun Station (Subway Line 5), Exit 5
Q: Have you ever went to the Seoul Lantern Festival? What was your impression?