South Korea, and its capital Seoul in particular, is home to some of the most exciting winter events in Asia, with a range of unique home grown festivals, as well as international performance acts and celebrations of traditional culture. These ten standout events are the best way to enjoy the South Korean winter, for tourists and locals alike.
Theatre | Fuerza Bruta Original Team in Korea
11 October – 31 December 2013
Fuerza Bruta is a sensational Argentinian theatre production which has spent the last few years bringing its incredible sound and light show to audiences around the world, and is finally making its way to Seoul. Produced by the innovative theatre company De La Guarda, Fuerza Bruta uses a range of acrobatics, light displays and theatrical experiences to create an immersive experience in which the audience becomes part of the performance. Following from the success of such visual spectacles as Cirque du Soleil, Fuerza Bruta promises a unique 360 degree theatrical experience.
Nature | Changwon Gagopa Chrysanthemum Festival
25 October – 3 November 2013
One of the most popular festivals in Changwon, the Changwon Gagopa Chrysanthemum Festival celebrates the local flower industry, which grows a large proportion of all the chrysanthemums found in Korea. This flower is valued highly in Asia for its medicinal qualities, and is used to make tea and many other specialities. The festival includes art exhibitions, food tastings, performances and parades in a comprehensive celebration of the humble chrysanthemum.
Culture | 2013 Seoul Lantern Festival
2 – 18 November 2013
In November of every year the neon lights of Seoul’s skyscrapers are enhanced by a staggeringly huge lantern display which stretches throughout the city. Over 30,000 lanterns are included in this visual spectacle, which celebrates the Korean capital’s history as the seat of the royal family, as well as the rich panorama of tradition and culture that is evident throughout the city. The lanterns, which can be as large as houses, brighten up the Cheonggyecheon district and are accompanied by a range of public displays and performances.
Film | Asiana International Short Film Festival
4 – 9 November 2013
The South Korean film industry is one of the most celebrated in East Asia, with a host of big name directors who have garnered international acclaim for their distinctive works. The Asiana International Short Film Festival celebrates this success, whilst also fostering a new generation of cinematic talents. It welcomes short films from all over the world to its competition, and this year has already received 3,959 films from 104 countries, proving that there is an abundance of young talent trying their hand at short films throughout the country and around the world.
Food | Food Week Korea 2013
6 – 9 November 2013
Korea’s top trade show, Food Week Korea 2013 offers an incredible introduction to the food industry in Korea, as well as bringing culinary stars from throughout the world to Seoul. The 2013 edition of Food Week Korea includes eight separate food shows: International Food Fair; Premium Agriculture, Fisheries & Livestock Fair; Rice & Fermented Food Fair; Hotel & Restaurant Fair; Seoul Cooking Show and Wine & Spirits Show. As if that wasn’t enough, there is also a Craft Beer Festival running alongside Food Week.
Film | Seoul Independent Film Festival
28 November – 6 December 2013
An annual competitive film festival, which is committed to creative independent films of all genres, The Seoul Independent Film Festival, is the best way to gain an insight into the more alternative spectrum of South Korean filmmaking. Originating from the 1975 Korean Youth Film Festival, Golden Crown Short Film Festival, and Korean Independent Short Film Festival, and supported by the Korean Film Council, this year’s edition will be the 39th and will include a ‘New Choice’ category to honor up-and-coming directors.
Design | Seoul Design Festival 2013
18 – 22 December 2013
South Korea has become renowned in recent years for its innovative design studios which, buoyed by a reputation for manufacturing and technical excellence, have become the envy of East Asia. The Seoul Design Festival furthers this reputation by promoting excellence in design through its annual displays of the best Korean and international creations from countries such as Italy, France, Germany and the UK. The Festival is both a platform for cultural exchange, and an opportunity for local practitioners to compare their wares with the best European designers. The Festival also recognizes the best Young Designer every year, and offers an insightful look into the ever-changing state of the Asian design scene.
Culture | Sunrise Festivals
Whilst Korean New Year is celebrated as a traditional, family orientated event, the solar New Year is more of a country wide party, and many South Koreans stay up all night on the 31st of December to welcome in the New Year in a unique way: watching the first sunrise of the year. Several festivals throughout the country are devoted to this event, with the biggest being the Homigot Sunrise Festival and Seongsan Sunrise Festival. The festivals feature local cultural performances, fire shows, and sunrise concerts, whilst visitors may sample free tteokguk, a traditional New Year’s Day dish.
Culture | Korean New Year
January 31 2014
Held on the first day of the lunar calendar, Korean New Year is a national holiday commonly known as Seollal. Over this three-day celebration various rituals and observances are performed, and many Koreans travel home to visit their families. The ritual of charye, a memorial service for ancestors, is performed by most families, and traditional snacks such as Tteokguk, a soup with sliced rice cakes, are eaten. Although Korean New Year is very much a family holiday, there are several performances and events in Seoul to mark the special occasion.
Culture | Taebaeksan Snow Festival Korea
25 January – 3 February 2014
Korea’s winters are typically very cold, with the country staying below zero for much of the season, significantly reducing the potential for outdoor activities. For those brave souls who want to frolic in the snow in these freezing temperatures, the Taebaeksan Snow Festival is the perfect place to do it. Featuring a range of snow related activities, as well as typical winter sports, the festival brings the Taebaeksan mountain (which translates as ‘great white mountain’) to life. A particular highlight of the festival is the snow sculpture competition and the ice art competition, whilst local restaurants and hotels offer the best hearty Korean winter fare to warm freezing festival goers after a long day in the snow.