Seoul Lantern Festival – A Lighting Event You Must See

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Nestled in the heart of Seoul, the Seoul Lantern Festival shines as a beacon of cultural brilliance and artistic beauty. Come and join us as we explore this breathtaking festival of lights under the South Korean sky.

Seoul lantern main
Festival highlights

About the Seoul Lantern Festival

The Seoul Lantern Festival is an annual light festival that features a vibrant array of LED lights and lanterns made from traditional Korean paper.

Since its inception in 2009, this captivating festival has drawn millions of visitors, both local and international, making this event a significant cultural phenomenon.

Each year, the festival celebrates different themes. Last year, the theme was “White Night in Seoul,” celebrating the upcoming Year of the Dragon with majestic light displays depicting the mythical dragons.

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An image inspired by the festive atmosphere at Seoul Lantern Festival

The brilliant installations of each edition not only capture the imagination but also beautifully meld tradition with modern artistry.

Aside from the visual spectacle, the festival also includes a variety of other attractions. Visitors can wander through a charming Christmas market, marvel at floating air balloons, or engage with interactive kinetic art.

Each of these elements contributes to a festive atmosphere that makes the Seoul Lantern Festival a must-visit destination during the holiday season.

Featured Lighting Displays:

  • Colorful Lanterns: A spectrum of brightly lit lanterns crafted in intricate designs, casting a warm glow along the stream and other locations.
  • Light Installations: Large-scale artworks and installations that animate the festival’s theme with dynamic lights and shadows.
  • Light Sculptures: Intricate sculptures illuminated from within, creating stunning visual effects that enhance the festival’s magical ambiance.

Festival Dates

The specific dates for the 2024-2025 edition of the Seoul Lantern Festival have not been announced yet, stirring a sense of excitement and anticipation. 

This dazzling event traditionally lights up Seoul’s winter landscape from December to January, transforming the chilliest months into a warm and inviting spectacle of luminous artistry.

The festival dates provide an ideal time to see the city in a different light, adorned with thousands of twinkling lanterns that breathe life into the long winter nights.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the official announcement, which is typically released a few months before the festival begins. Timing your visit to coincide with this breathtaking event ensures you won’t miss one of Seoul’s most spectacular annual attractions.

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An image inspired from the Seoul Lantern Festival in South Korea

Where It’s Located and How to Get There

The mesmerizing festival of lights takes place in Seoul, South Korea, captivating visitors with its enchanting displays across several locations such as the historic Gwanghwamun Plaza, the scenic Cheonggyecheon Stream, and the bustling Cheonggye Plaza

Each of these sites offers its own unique backdrop, enhancing the magical experience of the festival. With installations stretching through these central areas, the festival not only beautifies the city but also makes it easy for anyone in Seoul to join in the festivities and enjoy the radiant atmosphere.

The major gateway to Seoul is Incheon International Airport, which is well-connected to the city and the festival venues. Here are some convenient options for transferring from the airport to the heart of the light displays:

  • Airport Railroad Express (AREX): A direct train that takes you to Seoul Station in just 43 minutes, from where you can connect to various subway lines to reach the festival areas.
  • Limousine Bus Service: Offers comfortable rides directly to major districts near the festival venues, including stops near Gwanghwamun and Cheonggyecheon.
  • Taxi: Available directly outside the terminal, offering a more personal and direct route to the festival locations, though this option is pricier than public transport.
  • Car Rental: For those preferring to drive themselves, several car rental agencies are located at the airport.

For those coming to Seoul from other cities in South Korea by train, the following guidelines will help you reach the festival smoothly:

  • Arrive at Seoul Station: This major train hub connects to various parts of the country via Korea’s efficient KTX (Korea Train Express), as well as slower, regular train services.
  • Transfer to the Subway: From Seoul Station, you can easily transfer to the Seoul Metropolitan Subway. For Gwanghwamun Plaza and Cheonggye Plaza, take Line 5 to Gwanghwamun Station. For Cheonggyecheon Stream, Jonggak Station on Line 1 is a good option.
  • Local Buses: Numerous buses run through downtown Seoul and can drop you close to all festival locations. Check local bus routes for the most direct options.
  • Walking: If you’re up for a stroll, the festival areas are accessible on foot from Seoul Station, providing a pleasant walk through some of Seoul’s bustling streets.

If you liked this festival, you can also check out these other captivating festivals across Asia:

I Light Singapore

Pingxi Lantern Festival

Festival Hours

In its run, the Seoul Lantern Festival casts its spell over the city from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM every evening, lighting up the urban landscape with dazzling displays. This four-hour window offers ample time for visitors to meander through the glowing installations and absorb the festive atmosphere. 

Ideal for an evening outing, the event transforms a simple walk along the stream into a magical experience. Be sure to arrive with time to spare, allowing a full immersion in the radiance before the night concludes.

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An image inspired by the Seoul Lantern Festival

How Much Does It Cost to See the Seoul Lantern Festival

Attending the Seoul Lantern Festival is completely free of charge, making it an accessible celebration for all. This openness encourages people from all walks of life to experience the spectacular displays of light installations and vibrant lanterns. 

This free event is a perfect opportunity for families, friends, and solo explorers eager to immerse themselves in a cultural spectacle. Don’t miss the chance to partake in this enchanting Seoul tradition without spending a penny.

Weather and What to Wear

During December and January, Seoul, South Korea, embraces the winter season with temperatures that often dip below freezing. The climate is generally cold and dry, with the mercury ranging from -6°C to 3°C (21°F to 37°F). 

Visitors should be prepared for the chilly weather, especially in the evenings when exploring the Seoul Lantern Festival’s dazzling displays. Although snow is not frequent, occasional snowfalls add a magical touch to the festive lights.

To comfortably enjoy the festival, here are some clothing recommendations:

  • Thermal Underwear: A base layer of thermal underwear will keep you warm as you stroll through the festive lights.
  • Winter Coat: Opt for a heavy, insulated winter coat to shield against the cold winds.
  • Hats and Gloves: Don’t forget a warm hat and a pair of gloves to protect your head and hands from the cold.
  • Warm Footwear: Waterproof boots with thermal socks are ideal to keep your feet warm and dry.
  • Scarf: A thick scarf can help protect your neck and face from chilly breezes.

Where to Sleep – Hotels Nearby

Finding a comfortable place to stay near the Seoul Lantern Festival is essential to fully enjoy the festivities. Below are three hotel options that cater to different preferences and budgets, each providing a cozy retreat after a night spent among the festival’s dazzling lights:

Fairfield by Marriott Seoul (4-star hotel)

  • Location: Gyeongin-ro, 870 Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
  • Description: Located in the bustling Yeongdeungpo-gu district, this modern hotel offers a seamless blend of comfort and convenience for travelers.
  • Amenities: Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi, a well-equipped fitness center, and air-conditioned rooms for a restful stay.

K-POP HOTEL Seoul Tower

  • Location: 20 Toegye-ro 2-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
  • Description: Located near the vibrant Myeongdong shopping district and the iconic Namsan Seoul Tower, K-POP HOTEL Seoul Tower offers a thematic accommodation experience tailored for K-pop enthusiasts and visitors keen on exploring Seoul’s dynamic urban scene.
  • Amenities: Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi, ensuring connectivity throughout their stay, comfortable air-conditioned rooms to relax after a busy day, an on-site restaurant that serves a variety of local and international dishes, and a smoke-free environment to ensure a healthy stay.

Seoul N Hotel Dongdaemun (2-star hotel)

  • Location: 21 Jong-ro 66ga-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
  • Description: This budget-friendly hotel is conveniently situated close to the Dongdaemun area, known for its shopping and entertainment options.
  • Amenities: Guests have access to free Wi-Fi, dining options at the hotel’s restaurant, and the comfort of air-conditioned rooms.

Where to Eat – Restaurants Nearby

Exploring local cuisine is an integral part of any festival experience, and the Seoul Lantern Festival is no exception. Here are three diverse dining options near the festival area, each offering unique flavors and dishes that cater to a range of tastes:

Maple Tree House

  • Location: 26 Itaewon-ro 27ga-gil, 이태원1동 Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
  • Description: A stylish Korean barbecue restaurant that offers a high-end dining experience in a modern, lavishly decorated setting.
  • Foods Served: Specializes in pork short ribs, grilled jumbo prawns, and seafood soft tofu stew among other delectable dishes.

Seoul Dining

  • Location: 272 Dongho-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
  • Description: This modern European restaurant blends fine dining with creative culinary innovations in a chic atmosphere.
  • Foods Served: Features dishes such as meatball tartare, abalone with tomato, and fried rice ball with mushroom.

Jyoti Indian Restaurant

  • Location: South Korea, Seoul, Mapo-gu, Sinchon-ro 20-gil
  • Description: A vibrant Indian restaurant offering a range of traditional and vegan dishes, perfect for those seeking a flavorful meal.
  • Foods Served: Guests can enjoy ginger black tea, chili chips, and pani puri, among other flavorful options.

More Things to Do in the Area

While enjoying the Seoul Lantern Festival, take the opportunity to explore some of the city’s other top attractions nearby, each offering unique experiences and insights into the culture and excitement of Seoul:

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N Seoul Tower

  • Location: 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
  • Description: Known as Namsan Tower, this iconic communication and observation tower stands on Namsan Mountain, offering panoramic views of Seoul’s skyline from its 236-meter height.
  • Activities to Explore: Visit the observation deck for breathtaking city views, lock your love at the famous love lock fence, or dine in the revolving restaurant.

National Museum of Korea

  • Location: 137 Seobinggo-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
  • Description: As South Korea’s flagship museum, it houses extensive collections that showcase Korean history and art, making it the largest museum in the country.
  • Activities to Explore: Explore the extensive galleries featuring artifacts from Korea’s past, including the famed ten-story pagoda, attend special exhibitions, and wander through the peaceful outdoor gardens.

Lotte World

  • Location: 240 Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea
  • Description: A major recreation complex in Seoul, this theme park is packed with thrilling rides, an ice rink, and various other attractions suitable for all ages.
  • Activities to Explore: Enjoy the indoor and outdoor amusement parks, take a magical parade, visit the haunted house, or skate at the Olympic-size ice rink.

An Illuminating Conclusion: Final Thoughts on the Seoul Lantern Festival

The Seoul Lantern Festival is more than just an event; it’s a dazzling journey through a sea of lights that captures the essence of South Korean creativity and tradition. 

As you wander along the illuminated paths, every lantern and light display tells a story, weaving unforgettable memories into the fabric of Seoul’s historic heart.

Make your winter unforgettable by experiencing this magical festival, where the glow of lanterns lights up the night and warms the spirit. It’s a captivating celebration that not only brightens the season but also deepens your connection to the vibrant culture and rich traditions of South Korea.

FAQ

Is there parking available at the festival?

Parking is very limited; using public transport is highly recommended.

Can I smoke at the festival?

Smoking is prohibited throughout the festival grounds to ensure a family-friendly environment.

Are pets allowed at the festival?

Pets are not allowed, except for service animals.

Is the festival wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the festival areas, including Cheonggyecheon Stream, are accessible for wheelchair users.

What should I do if it rains during the festival?

The festival continues in light rain, so please bring an umbrella or raincoat.

Are there food and drinks available for purchase?

Yes, there are multiple food vendors and stalls offering a variety of snacks and beverages.

Can I bring my camera and take photos?

Yes, photography is encouraged, but please be mindful not to obstruct others’ views.

Are there any age restrictions for attending the festival?

No, the Seoul Lantern Festival is open to all ages and is a great event for families.

Sources: https://seoulsearching.net/seoul-lantern-festival-guide/ 

https://english.visitseoul.net/nature/2023%20SEOUL%20LANTERN%20FESTIVAL/ENPyeex1b

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