Top 10 Festivals in Korea 2023

Just like every other country, Korea holds its own traditional festivals every year. In 2020 and 2021 most of them were canceled due to the pandemic. However, since last year more and more of them are making a comeback. Therefore, I am presenting you with 10 festivals you definitely should not miss if you are in Korea!

Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival

태백산 눈 축제

Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival is typically held at the end of January or the beginning of February. It started in 1995 next to the beautiful Mt. Taebaeksan in the South of Gangwon-do province. This festival takes pride in showcasing large-scale snow sculptures, as well as various programs. Programs include a hiking competition on Mt. Taebaeksan, an igloo cafe, an ice fountain, sledding, and a starlight festival.

When: Friday, January 27, 2023 – Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Where: Mt. Taebaeksan Provincial Park, Hwangji Pond, Taebaek, South Korea

Jeju Fire Festival

제주 들불 축제

Jeju Fire Festival is not only the biggest festival on the island but, it is also the biggest fire festival in the world. The festival is a reinterpretation of the cattle farming traditions of Jeju. Since 1997 it has been held annually in March.

However, the roots of the festival date back to the 1970s, when almost every household raised a couple of cows to plow the land and transport the harvest. There used to be a tradition for livestock owners in each town to take turns taking the cows to pasture in hilly areas during winter, where there was better quality grass. For this reason, they held an event called Bangdae. The locals burnt down the fields in late winter or early spring, in order to renew the greens and exterminate vermin. It is thanks to the wisdom of Korea’s ancestors, that we can enjoy this spectacular festival every year.

The festival includes not only a massive fire at the base of Saebyeoloream Volcanic Cone, but also a media façade show, a torch march, a fire show, various programs, and food trucks.

When: Thursday, March 9, 2023 – Sunday, March 12, 2023

Where: Area around Saebyeol Volcanic Cone (Oreum), Bongseong Village, Aewol-eup, Jeju-si

Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival (Yeon Deung Hoe)

연등회

Being a celebration of Buddha’s birthday, this festival is held annually the weekend before Buddha’s birthday, therefore the dates differ a little bit every year. There are various programs like a Lantern Parade, Eoullim Madang (Buddhist Cheer Rally), Hoehyang Hanmadang (Post-Parade Celebration), some cultural activities (drawing traditional designs), making lanterns, trying temple cuisine, and performances. By lighting lanterns during this festival, the participants brighten their hearts as well as the world’s. It is an event that wishes for world happiness and well-being.

When: Friday, May 15, 2023 – Sunday, May 21, 2023

Where: 55 Ujeongguk-ro, Seoul, South Korea; several locations around the area: Streets of Jongno, Cheonggyecheon Stream, Bongeunsa Temple, Jogyesa Temple

Want more information on the Lotus Lantern festival? Click Here!

Boseong Green Tea Festival

보성다향대축제

All the tea lovers out there, read carefully! Every May there is an incredible tea festival in Boseong. It dates back to 1985 and was established by the largest tea producer in the country. There are various programs throughout the festival, including learning about the art of tea leaf picking, tea processing, and tea harvesting, as well as tasting food infused with green tea, courses about molding traditional tea cups, tea ceremonies, tea exhibitions, celebratory performances, art market, and so much more tea-infused fun!

When: May 2023, TBD

Where: 775, Nokcha-ro, Boseong-gun, Jeollanam-do

Damyang Bamboo Festival

담양 대나무 축제

Bamboo is used in more crafts than most of us probably know. Damyang Bamboo Festival presents a great opportunity for you to experience many of them, including fishing with a bamboo basket on your own, tasting Korean alcohol brewed in bamboo stalks, bamboo drawing, bamboo rafts, bamboo foot baths, and others. Apart from crafts, the festival also offers events like bamboo forest tours and arirang flash mobs.

When: around early May 2023, TBD

Where: 119, Jungnogwon-ro, Damyang-gun, Jeollanam-do

Boryeong Mud Festival

보령 머드 축제

Boryeong Mud festival has been held every July / August since 1999. The fun atmosphere is created largely by everyone being covered in grey mud. There are various contests throughout the event, as well as shows, a colorful street parade, dancers, jugglers, evening music events, fireworks, and more. Activities offered to the public include mud baths, painting with mud, mud massages, mud wrestling, etc. A bonus to all this fun is the claim from the organizers of the festival that the mud has curing and cosmetic values. Therefore this is a festival that is good for mind and body.

When: Friday, July 21, 2023 – Sunday, August 6, 2023

Where: Areas of Boryeong Mud Theme Park l Sinheuk-dong, Boryeong-si, Chungcheongnam-do

Want more information on the Boryeong Mud Festival? Click Here!

Hwacheon Tomato Festival

화천 토마토 축제

This festival started in 2003 in Hwacheon, Gangwon Province. It is one of Korea’s most unique events, which transports participants back to their childhood when they didn’t care how messy they were. It offers the visitors a chance to stomp, crush, or throw the region’s signature food, as well as join in on other activities. Last year in 2022, the festival was divided into 6 different zones including a Water Zone, a Market Zone, and a Cultural Zone, and each zone had its own activities. The festival also has its own mascots that appear on merchandise and festival promotion materials.

One of the biggest activities is the Gold Ring Tomato Hunt, where participants look for a golden ring in a big pool of tomatoes by destroying the vegetables. The prize for the winner is a genuine golden ring worth over 300,000 KRW. Other activities include a tomato slide, tomato juice making, tomato wrestling, tomato makgeolli (traditional Korean alcoholic beverage) stall, tomato seeding collection, and a tasting area.

When: August 2023, TBD

Where: Munhwamaeul 1(il)-gil, Sanae-myeon, Hwacheon-gun, Gangwon-do

Andong International Mask Dance Festival

안동 국제 탈춤 페스티별

Anadong Mask Dance Festival takes place in the city that is the location of the UNESCO World Heritage designated Andong Hahoe Village. It is around 200 kilometers South-Eastern from Seoul. Apart from traditional experiences like mask dances, and various hands-on cultural programs, visitors can also enjoy outdoor night parties and events.

When: September / October 2023

Where: Areas of downtown Andong | 200, Chukjejang-gil, Andong-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do

Busan International Film Festival

부산국제영화제

BIFF is held in Busan annually since 1996, and during the past 25 years, it built a reputation as one of the most significant film festivals in Asia. Like other film festivals, its goal is to introduce new films, first-time film directors (especially from Asian countries), and to develop and promote young talent. If you are a film lover, you will certainly enjoy this event!

When: October 2023, TBD

Where: Busan Cinema Center, 120, Suyeonggangbyeon-daero, Haeundae-gu, Busan

Want to visit more film festivals in Korea? Click Here for a list of Korean film festivals held throughout the year!

Busan Fireworks Festival

부산 불꽃 축제

One of the biggest fireworks events in Korea is held in Busan along Gwangalli Beach. Usually, it is held in November, although in 2022 it was moved to December due to the country being in the mourning period after the Itaewon tragedy. The festival is not only about fireworks but includes also cultural events, high-tech laser shows, busking, talk shows, and more.

Tip: If you do not like crowds, you can watch the fireworks from the nearby Hwangnyeongsan Mountain, Dongbaekseom Island, or Igidae Coastal Park.

When: November 2023, TBD

Where: Area of Gwangalli Beach | 219, Gwanganhaebyeon-ro, Suyeong-gu, Busan

Which festivals have you added to your calendar this year? Let us know in the comments below!