Lotus Lantern Festival

Lotus Lantern Festival (연등회) is an ancient Korean folk festival for celebration of Buddha’s birthday, originated in Silla Period. The Lantern Festival was designated as National Intangible Heritage No. 122. Nowadays, this amazing festival takes place once a year in Seoul and give a great opportunity to explore Buddhist culture. Buddha’s birthday is a public holiday in Korea and celebrated on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month. People enjoy various prepared events and programs together. The massive lantern festival makes the city to illuminate with colorful lanterns. Today, I would like to tell about which exciting performances and activities are including in the Lotus Lantern Festival.

Buddhist cheer rally (어울림 마당)

Before the starting of a huge lantern parade, people gather in Dongguk University, which is coeducational university in South Korea, based on Buddhism. The campus of university is usually decorated with lanterns in April. You can find three elephants and lanterns over them. Elephant is an animal symbol of Dongguk University, because elephant symbolism is found in Buddhism. And also you can see a statue of Buddha who is facing a family of three elephants. Another significant Buddhist building on the campus is Jeonggakwon Temple. In May the beautiful campus of university prepared to receive participants from all over the country.

Participants have a great time of dances and songs. Gathering into certain groups, some people have their unique lanterns. The most amazing thing that everyone can participate in this event and enjoy incredible performances.

The main highlight of festival is Lantern Parade. And it starts from Dongdaemun gate and ends at Jonggak Station. The Parade lasts about three hours. People move through streets.

Venue: Main Stadium of Dongguk University

During the three-kilometer procession, Seoul’s streets filled with more than hundred thousand lanterns, dragon and elephant constructions and other incredible floats. All participants and spectators of the parade feel extraordinary unity, congratulating each other and exchanging good wishes.

This festival attracts attention of many foreign tourists who interested in exploring Buddhist culture. And they want to take part in various programs and events. Everyone can enjoy different interesting programs, such as making lanterns. And also they are able to take a part in meditation workshop, experience temple stay program and other things.

Venue: Areas of Jongno Avenue (Heunginjimun Gate → Jogyesa Temple), Jongno-gu, Seoul

How to get there

Directions(parade route):

  • Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4), Exit 9 or 10
  • Jongno 5(o)-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 1, 4, 5 or 8
  • Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 3, 5), Exit 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 or 15
  • Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 2, 3 or 3-1

Participation fee: free

Exhibition of traditional lanterns

Every year the exhibition of lanterns on display during two weeks of May. One of the main locations of lanterns exhibition is Cheonggyecheon Stream (청계천).

This place is incredibly amazing. You can see tens of big colorful paper lanterns. And there are Buddhist figures, shapes of different animals such as dragon, tiger, bear, elephant and shapes of birds and fish.

How to get there

Address: 1 Cheonggyecheon-ro, Seorin-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Admission fee: free

Jogyesa Temple

Another place where you can see the exhibition of traditional lanterns is Jogyesa Temple (조계사).

Jogyesa is the chief temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. The temple was first established in 1395, at the dawn of the Joseon Dynasty. But the current structure was founded in 1910. During the celebration of Buddha’s birthday, you can find the Cultural Zone in front of the temple. It is where booths by different Buddhist organizations and temples on display. Also it is a good place to see traditional performances, try temple cuisine and experience temple stay. This place attracts a lot of visitors every year and offers a good chance to explore and learn more about Buddhist culture.

How to get there

Temple Stay Program

Detailed information about temple stay program you can find here.

Website: (Korean, English)

Address: 55, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Bongeunsa Temple

Seoul Bongeunsa Temple (봉은사) is also a great place of lanterns exhibition. The temple was founded in  the 10th year of King Wonseong reign by the monk Yeon-hoe, then the highest ranking monk of Silla. The temple is a popular site, that attracts lots of foreign visitors. You can see amazing lanterns for the event there. To see them all together in front of the temple is super stunning. Do not miss to visit this oldest and largest temple during the Lantern festival^^.

How to get there

Location: 531, Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Lotus Lantern Festival is one of the best things you can enjoy during your trip to South Korea.

If you will visit Korea in spring be sure do not miss this event.

More Information

  • Website: (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, French, German, Spanish)

I hope this post about Lotus Lantern Festival was informative^^ Don’t forget to comment if you have any more recommendations or tips related to this post. Thanks for reading and have a nice trip!

🇰🇿 Urazbekova Ainur

23 years old, currently living in South Korea, enjoy writing about experiences of studying abroad, living in different cultures and traveling.