The Seoul Lantern Festival (서울빛초롱축제)

Every year since 2009, 청계천 (Cheongyecheon) stream in central Seoul has hosted a spectacular lantern festival. The event, which runs for around three weeks every November, features beautiful and intricate lanterns of all shapes and sizes; some depict special scenes, while others represent themes or come from corporate sponsors. There’s even a small area where visitors can construct their own lanterns, write their own messages on them, light a small candle inside, and set them out onto the stream.

While in Seoul last November, I was eager to visit this festival, but unfortunately it began on the day I flew back to the UK. Because of my finals, I almost missed it this year, too,  but thankfully it didn’t end until the weekend after my exams had finished. However, we didn’t have time to go until the very last day, and unable to delay our visit any further, this sadly meant that we had to go in the rain. Thankfully it didn’t rain too heavily, and it actually meant that the crowds were considerably thinner than they might have otherwise been, allowing us something of a better view in places. There isn’t too much I can think to say about the festival – it’s just something you have to see for yourself – so I’ll simply include lots of photos below and let them speak for themselves.

I’m so glad I finally got to visit this beautiful festival, and despite the weather had a wonderful time. I’m sure it’s even more enjoyable when there’s no rain, but by the same token, no rain means more crowds. Multiple friends I’d spoken to who had managed to visit the festival earlier on said that, yes, it’s spectacular, but it’s so busy that you can barely move. It seems we were actually kind of lucky, because we didn’t have too much trouble seeing everything we wanted to. So, if you want to visit the festival next time, firstly I would advise going during the week, not at the weekend, and if you don’t mind getting a little damp, perhaps pick a slightly rainy day in order to have a less stressful experience.

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