In 2009 they started a Lantern Festival on the Cheonggyecheon stream in Seoul which now seems to be recurring annually in November. When I first heard about it I thought it would be similar to the lanterns I had seen near some of the Buddhist temples in Bukhansan & Seoraksan. I knew it would be fun but am glad I was wrong about the whole shindig.
I met my friend, Lisa, at City Hall station and we took the short walk over to the river to find a huge line waiting out front with a brilliant display. The line moved quickly, perhaps it was due to the intermittent showers and people leaving the line. We didn’t mind and kept on chatting as we entered the free exhibit.
Lisa informed me that every year the festival had a different theme; usually related to Seoul’s history. This year the theme followed the Baekje Kingdom which was one of the 3 Kingdoms of Korea that separated the country from roughly 18 BC to 660 AD. All I knew was these lanterns illuminated the river with a gorgeous display of animals, Koreans in traditional garb, and festive creations that reminded me of Christmas.
There were creatures that looked like they were staight out of an anime movie. I didn’t mind and was happy to find Lisa was amused by all of the dragons and mythical creatures mixed in with celebrating Koreans from every epoch.
Strolling along the river we passed lantern after lantern. The path next to the river was crowded and we stopped regularly due to the congestion. It gave us more time to admire each set of lanterns. Every few hundred meters there were postings describing the scene. I know I had a great time and I’m excited to see what they put together for next year. I highly recommend stopping by the lantern festival if you happen to be in Seoul while its running!