It’s fall, almost winter, in Korea which means tons of outdoor festivals. In the summer it’s too hot and wet to plan events outside, but in the cool, dry fall, there is absolutely no shortage of things to do.
In the spring, I attended the Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival but that is a parade whereas the fall event is held for about three weeks in November and consists of stationary displays set up along the stream that runs through a large portion of Seoul. Saturday night was perhaps not the best time to go in terms of crowding, but my group of 6 friends never felt crushed or too rushed along.
What probably helped was the enormity of the lanterns. Even if you couldn’t stop exactly in front of a lantern, with Optimus Prime in the children’s section standing tall over the bridges and a replica of the Dongdaemun Seoul city gate so large the crowds could walk underneath it, there was no struggle to see the lanterns.
My favorite display was not one of the larger ones, but a small forest of trees that had been set up in the stream with each tree decorated in different lanterns. Some were the more traditional looking paper style but others seemed to just be glowing orbs hanging from the branches.
Other favorites were a group of swans floating on the water, a larger than life peacock with moving tail feathers who periodically (and for no real reason) shot flames out of his mouth, and a Japanese entry of a woman sitting amongst gigantic lotus blossoms.
On a personal note, this festival was a fantastic last night as a 23 year old! Afterwards, we all went out to a hof (a Korean pub that serves food, not unlike a Japanese izakaya) and drank beer, ate tidbits, and let off some steam about school. Nothing wrong with that!