I‘m getting more than a little excited about the prospect of all the upcoming festivals here in Korea. Winter was pretty brutal with temperatures dropping to -24 at times and more snow than you could shake a stick at. Leaving your house without gloves was a death wish and the amount of times I fell flat on my ass thanks to the ice is not even funny. Although it was hardly “4 months of Hibernation”, it was tough. So as the snow thaws and the temperature slowly rises, the look of relief, above all else, is prominent among my students, colleagues and friends.
Spring, probably the best season of the year, is on it’s way at last! And with Spring come festivals. Lots and lots of fantastic, joy-filled, dance-filled, sunshine-filled festivals! Here is a low-down on the top 5 festivals (in my opinion) to watch out for this spring, and be warned they are not all your typical music festivals! I have included festivals for all the senses…touch, taste, smell, see and hear!
No 5- St Patricks Day Festival Seoul (Sat 19th March 2011)
So what if St Patricks day is actually on Thursday the 17th! Most Irish people, other “wannabe Irish” foreigners and even Koreans who wish to celebrate all things green and Irish will most likely be slaving away at work on the thursday, dreaming of creamy pints of Guinness and luminous shamrock shakes so having the festival on the nearest Saturday is a fantastic idea!
Held annually by the Irish Association of Korea the festival and parade takes place at the aptly named “Dublin Terrace” in Gangnam. There will be an Irish food section, a Guinness sampling corner, face painting and even am “Introduction to Ireland” section for those who have not a clue what St Patricks day is all about (hug a leprechaun if you must!). There will be an after party event in The Sheraton Grand for all those hardcore party-goers!Being Irish and all, Paddys day isalways a highlight of my year. I celebrated it in Melbourne last year and am excited to celebrate in Seoul this year!
No 4- Jindo Sea-parting Festival (19th-21st March)
Here is another festival somewhat related to religion (if St Patricks Day can still be associated with religion, considering it’s more about Saint Guinness these days..!). The Jindo Sea-Parting Festival, “Mystic Sea Road Festival” in English, happens once a year in Jeollanam-do Province when the seas mysteriously part and visitors can walk through the sea from the mainland to a nearby island.
This phenomenon is caused due to the difference in high tides and low tides, which creates a 2.8-kilometer-long road measuring 40 to 60 meters in width and creating a scene similar to that of Moses parting the Red sea in the Bible. The festival is apparently well known with people coming from all over Korea to witness this annual “miracle”.
No 3- Jinhae Gunhangje Festival (1st- 10th April)
Jinhae Gunhangje Festival, which takes place the beginning of April is Koreas biggest cherry blossom festival. Over 2 million tourists come from all over the world to walk along the tree-lined streets and picturesque mountain paths. According to Visit Korea, “There are so many cherry blossom trees in Jinhae that when the wind blows it seems as if it is raining cherry blossom petals.”
I cannot wait to walk down those tree lined paths and see all the beautiful petals with my own eyes. We have a small blossom tree in our garden at home with a swing hanging off it and it has always been my favorite chill out spot, especially come spring time.
No 2- World Dj Festival 2011 (6th-8th May)
With big name music acts/ DJs from all over the world (Freemasons,Jesse Jamz, Will Bailey, Lazy Rich etc) this festival is set to be banging! Taking place over a long weekend in May in YangPyong resort and with weekend camping included this may well be one of the festival highlights of the year!
If you buy your tickets this week there are ridiculously cheap options to promote advance purchase. Or even better, if you want to get more involved in the music scene here in Korea you can volunteer with the preparations for the festival. Not a bad thing to have on you CV, eh?
No 1- Nonsan Strawberry Festival- (8th-10th April)
Do I REALLY have to give reasons why I want to go to this festival?? Okay fine here goes…
Nonsan’s strawberries are supposedly the most delicious in Korea, and at the festival I can pick as many as my basket, or stomach, can hold. BRING IT ON!! There are also plenty of original strawberry creations for visitors to sample, such as strawberry rice cakes and even strawberry hot sauce, as well as established treats like strawberry pancakes and strawberry jam. Yum, Yum in my tum.
One other festival that deserve a mention… CheongDo Bull-fighting Festival, supposedly this “korean tradition” is over 1000 years old. Who needs to fly to Pamplona, Spain when we have this on our doorstep. Don’t know if I could actually sit and watch this due to my fear and hatred of violence but I guess it would be a good experience.