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Korean Light Festivals to Revive Your Christmas Spirit by Duke Stewart

Korean Light Festivals to Revive Your Christmas Spirit

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I never found it tough to be expat in South Korea until the holidays would come rolling along. Am I right people? Those spectacular fall colors were just a brief respite before those tear-filled Thanksgiving and Christmas Skype calls to friends and family from home. Before we’d lose it and go straight for some new soju mixer, my wife and I were happy to find ways to feel home even though we weren’t. Korean light festivals always revived our Christmas Spirit and I’m going to share some personal favorites, along with help from friends.

Korean Light Festivals

This travel guide is part of our series on South Korea Travel and East Asia Travel. It was originally created on December 22, 2015. It has been maintained and updated (as of December 28, 2018) to reflect current viewpoints and travel trends.

Everland Light Festival

Winter Lights at Everland via
Photo by Scott and Megan via

It’s hard to mention any kind of spirit without including Everland, a place that’s on a constant theme rollercoaster. Scott and Megan from Bobo and Chichi have spent a lot of time there and filmed a pretty awesome video of how they got in the Christmas Spirit in Everland. If you’re into theme-filled fun and in Korea, then Everland is the place to be! I wish I hadn’t missed this but thankfully have people like Scott and Megan who come to the rescue.

Busan Christmas Tree Festival

Busan Christmas Tree Festival Photo by Ross Everett via
Photo by Ross Everett via

Christina and I sort of stumbled onto Busan’s Christmas Tree Festival many years back when we were hunting for Indian food and craft beer. Nampo Dong will always be our first stop for Korean street food but during the winter months, it’s also cool to visit for this awesome light festival that brings in tons of people throughout December. Mixing hot, delicious food with one of the best Korean Lights Festivals is honestly the finest way to spend Christmas if you ask me.

Garden of the Morning Calm Light Festival

Garden of the Morning Calm Light Festival Photo by Melanie Choi via
Photo by Melanie Choi via

Yours truly bypassed the Garden of the Morning Calm I honestly regret never going. Thankfully Katie McGrain of Around the World in Katie Days shared some pretty nice photos from this pretty awesome event in Gapyeong. It’s a beautiful collection of lights and like many others throughout Korea, the Garden of the Morning Calm Light Festival has succumbed to the selfie stick invasion. Your Christmas spirit must withstand even the most severe interruptions, my friends. Press on!

Boseong Green Tea Lights Festival

Boseong Green Tea Light Festival, South Korea

We visited Boseong’s Daehan Dawon Green Tea Plantation many times but the most memorable might’ve been around Christmas time because our spirits were lying pretty low at the time. Throughout my time in Korea, I think the best cures for homesickness were good street food and lights like the ones we saw at Boseong’s Tea Plantation Light Festival. You can also see lights at Yulpo Beach nearby but they’re better around the plantation in my opinion.

Yongsan Ice Rink

Winter Lights and Yongsan Ice World in Seoul, South Korea
Photo by Gina Bear via

This find comes courtesy of Gina Bear and is perfect for Seoulites in search of another way to enjoy Yongsan’s massive IPark one-stop-shop. At the Ice Rink during the holidays, visitors can not only roll around and keep balance but also enjoy a beautiful light display. If I’d had this during those countless times traveling to Yongsan Station, maybe I would’ve stuck around for longer than some California Pizza Kitchen or a round of Tekken. Read more of Gina’s work here.

Honorable Mention

Yeosu Bitnoriya

Yeosu Bitnoriya 2014

Yeosu was our home for a couple of years and one cool thing during the winter was the annual Bitnoriya festival that took place around Turtle Park in Yeocheon. Things would get crowded but without all those people, what fun would it be? Another great part about this event was that it ran through the New Year and into January, which was great for a light-obsessed kid like myself. While doing research about Bitnoriya, it looks like the event won’t be held this year. I’m a bit sad in writing that but hopefully Korea Tourism just forgot to put it up. So if that’s the case, please let me know and I’ll joyfully correct the error.

So now that you’ve talked to your parents and are in need of something to lift your holiday spirits, are you ready to check out one of these awesome Korean Light Festivals? After years of being away from home and going to festivals like these, I promise that they’ll deliver a big fat smile to your face if only for a second or two. Enjoy the holidays and these fun events even if you’re away from home.

Did I leave out any Korean Lights Festivals that you’d like to mention? Have you been to any of these? Feel free to let me know in the comments section!

10 thoughts on “Korean Light Festivals to Revive Your Christmas Spirit

  1. Katie Featherstone says:

    Wow, this looks so beautiful and colourful. I love festivals of light, we went to one in Ecuador but it was much lower tech than this- mostly just involved fire and terrifying fireworks. I still enjoyed it a lot though. Great photos- very sparkly!

    • Duke Stewart says:

      Wow! That one in Ecuador sounds like a blast! Did you ever write about it? You know that your biggest fan here would love to have a look at the photos of it:)

      Anyway, thanks for commenting! Night photos have always been a challenge for us but we picked up a tripod upon returning home and are ready for these types of situations now! Are you good at night shots, Katie?

  2. Julian says:

    I would love to go there it reminds me of Medellin that is also full of light during the month of December.. Thousands of light are installed next to the river there every year

  3. Katie says:

    Nice roundup! Thanks for the shoutout! I tried to go to the Green Tea Fields this past weekend. Then I realized that it is 6 hours on a bus to get there from where I live! Yikes! Wish it was a bit closer, looks awesome.

    • Duke Stewart says:

      Oh man, there are some routes that are just too long to work in there huh? Not sure how you’d approach it but there is a train that’ll take you to Boseong via Suncheon. Come to think of it buses run pretty regularly from Suncheon to Boseong if you ever want to go that way. Let me know if that can work for you. I’m a bit of a route nerd, lol. Thanks for commenting, Katie!

  4. Megan Indoe says:

    Thanks for sharing our everland experience! We love the garden of the morning calms light festival as well! It’s too bad we didn’t go to the Herb Island light festival in Pocheon to share with you! I also didn’t know Ipark mall had the winter festival! Pretty cool!

    • Duke Stewart says:

      Herb Island? Do they grow basil and stuff there? Lol. Anyway, I’m happy you guys helped out and really love that photo as it jumps out of my screen! Good stuff, Megan! Have a great holidays and I hope you get to see some more lights over them:)

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