Festivals and Events
Encompassing everything we know and love about the Far East, festivals in South Korea delicately mingle religion, culture and cuisine, invariably offering spectators an event to remember. Always characterised by elaborate dress, bright and dazzling colours, music, dancing, food and high spirits, there is little not to enjoy when it comes to South Korean festivals. Here are some of our favourites to whet your appetite.
Chuseok is known as the Korean Thanksgiving and falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. Originally, the festival was for the people to give thanks to their ancestors for a plentiful harvest. Nowadays it is celebrated by exchanging gifts as the women of each family prepare a variety of special dishes, most of which include the newly harvested rice, for which Koreans are so thankful. Songpyeon, a cake made from ground rice and stuffed with red beans, chestnuts and sesame seeds, is a traditional dish eaten during this festival.
BIFF (Busan International Film Festival)
One of Asia’s biggest and most influential films festivals, BIFF
aims to showcase and promote the work of up and coming directors, particularly from Asia, and screen some of the newest and hottest films around. The festival takes place at the Busan Cinema Centre and includes a number of different talks and masterclasses in addition to showing films from a variety of different genres and styles. Awards are given out in various categories, such as the two best feature films, best actor and actress, the film that gained the most acclaim from the audience and the best world documentary film. Prizes are all in cash as a way to help film-makers with their next projects.
FIFA U-20 World Cup
Everyone goes wild when the World Cup takes place but since 2002, when they played host to this global phenomenon, South Korea has remained relatively quiet on the football front. In 2017, however, prepare to see the stadiums ignite once more as football fans flock here for the biennial world youth championship that is the FIFA under 20s World Cup
. Qualifying teams are decided by smaller tournaments, such as UEFA, which separate the wheat from the chaff. If you weren’t able to get to Rio in 2014 but still want to see some world class football, it’s time to book a flight to South Korea.
Ultra Korea Music Festival
Seoul welcomes to the stage some of the hottest artists and DJs in the world during the Ultra Korea Music Festival. Past performers of this global music extravaganza have included Deadmau5, Chase & Status, Afrojack, Armin van Buuren and Avicii. The vibe at the festival is always electric, and not just because of the electronic beats coming from the gigantic speakers at the front. Hundreds of thousands of music lovers make their way to the capital for this event as they pay homage to some of their best loved rhythm-makers.
Gangneung Dano Festival
The Dano festival is celebrated across both North and South Korea but the Gangneung
branch has gained special recognition by spectators and UNESCO who designated it one of the “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”. Traditionally, during this festival, women would wash their hair with water that has been boiled with sweet flag (a wetland plant) while men engaged in wrestling matches. Blue and red traditional clothes are also worn for the duration of the festival and music, singing and wine all make generous appearances.
Boryeong Mud Festival
Each year, the muddy shores of Boryeong see an influx of visitors as hordes of locals and foreigners head to the Mud Festival
for the chance to blow off some steam while they get their hands dirty (literally). Mud sliding, mud massages and mud wrestling are just some of the messy events that take place during this unique festival. The mud itself is sought after for its curative properties and whilst celebrating, men and women cake themselves in it with the hopes that their skin will be all the better for it afterwards.