If you’re not a Seoul local, you probably don’t know much about the Lotte Tower Fireworks Festival. Well, the first thing you should know is that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle. Despite it being broadcast live, hundreds of thousands of people come to see the display in person.
It’s a huge annual event, receiving coverage from both BBC and CNN. Why is it such a big deal, though?
To non-Koreans, the details are a little fuzzy. However, the fuzziness doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s the ultimate tourist destination in Seoul. After all, who doesn’t love a good fireworks display?
Well, in any case, let’s find out more about this festival. In this article, you’ll learn what the festival is, why it is held, and other essential details you ought to know.
What is the Lotte Tower Fireworks Festival?
The Lotte Tower Fireworks Festival is one of the largest fireworks displays in the world. Lotte Tower, which is a shopping and entertainment center in Jamsil, Seoul, holds these elaborate fireworks displays every year.
Since the tower is around 555 meters long, the first firework display in 2017 lasted 555 seconds (9 and a half minutes). However, the event organizers have gotten more ambitious since then.
The 2019 Lotte Tower Fireworks Festival lasted a whopping 750 seconds (12 and a half minutes). It used over 30,000 fireworks and 750 shooting spots. The firework displays included an intricate assembly of dragons and Korean symbols for peace.
Originally, the festival was celebrated alongside New Year’s eve. However, for the last two years, the festival has been held in May.
Why is the Lotte Tower Fireworks Festival Held?
Initially, the Lotte Tower Fireworks Festival was a New Year’s celebration. In the past year, it was held for different reasons.
Last year’s theme was ‘Go Together’ or ‘Accompany’. The owners and organizers of the festival asserted that the fireworks display would symbolize a need for unity in the Korean peninsula.
If you aren’t aware of the political context, this announcement wasn’t long after North-Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, met with US President Trump for a nuclear arms deal.
Therefore, the Lotte Tower Fireworks Festival was held to call for peace in the region. Essentially, the festival has both a nationalistic and political purpose for South Korea.
Did It Break A World Record?
On-lookers compare the Lotte Tower Fireworks Festival to fireworks displays on the Burj Khalifa, Dubai. Thanks to the sheer magnitude of the display, the festival required a lot of preparation.
Specifically, it cost $6 million, requiring over 37 mountaineering experts and rescue workers to set up the display. For a show that lasted 12 minutes, the preparation process began weeks in advance.
While the fireworks display didn’t break a record, the show was as spectacular as those in Dubai or Paris. It was the longest fireworks show in Seoul’s history, though.
Here’s the progression of the show:
What’s the Best Place to Watch the Display?
Thanks to its popularity, not everyone gets to watch the Lotte Tower festival in person. Most have to watch it on television or a nearby bar or restaurant.
However, if you’re lucky, the best place to watch the Lotte Tower Fireworks Festival is the Seoul Sky. The Seoul Sky is part of Lotte Tower. It’s a remote skyline on the top floor of the tower.
Through the Seoul Sky, you get to watch the entire show up close without any danger. However, because it’s such a coveted place during the festival, seats inside the skyline are super expensive.
Moreover, they run out pretty quickly, especially considering the limited seating.
If you can’t watch from the Seoul Sky, you can aim for an up-close seat at the spectator stands.
However, either way, the Lotte Tower display is astounding. The mountaineering experts manipulate the movements of the lights using specialized ropes. It’s both thrilling and terrifying, considering the amount of precision required to properly control each light.
If you’re watching the display for the first time, I suggest going back a few rows. Don’t sit directly in the front because the ropes and light-manipulations might get overwhelming.
In sum, if you’re in town for the Lotte Tower Fireworks Festival, don’t leave without attending. You don’t even need tickets. The show’s free. Just make sure to come early, so you can get the seats of your choice. You don’t want to watch all the bangs and flashes from the back.
If there’s still time for the Lotte Tower Fireworks Festival, you can kill time with several different things. One highly popular location you can visit is Gwanaksan, a mountain range in Seoul’s southern region. Don’t forget to check the travel guide for Gwanaksan.