BUSAN, South Korea — Spring has once again arrived on the peninsula and festivals around the country are starting to take shape. There are plenty on offer this season for everyone, and with the warming of the weather, it's time people hit the streets to check out the flowers, beaches and parks. Here's a look at some of the top festivals around the country that you may want to put on your calendar.
Cheongdo Bullfighting Festival
April 18 – April 22
Home of the largest bullfighting festival in the country, the tradition spans 1,000 years highlighted by the over 100 bulls competing against each other in the ring. Other highlights include the United States rodeo team and a genius rodeo featuring members of the US Armed Forces.
Gijang Anchovy Festival
April 19 – April 22
The Gijang Anchovy Festival is held in Daebyeon Port, a famous fishing village regarded for their unique recipes for raw anchovies. The harbor is known as the largest anchovy fishing ground on the east coast of the country.
Gwangalli Eobang Festival
April 27 – April 29
The Eobang Festival is a Korean traditional festival which celebrates Busan’s fishing history. It includes various events such as street performances, an opening parade, eobang reenactments, candle wishes, fireworks and a closing performance. festival-eobang.suyeong.go.kr
Ulsan Whale Festival
April 26 – April 29
The Ulsan Whale Festival is different in that it focuses on traditional whale fishing, while at the same time raising support for whales rights' to live. Historically, Jangsaengpohang Port in Ulsan became an outpost of whalers, making it a central city for whale fishing in Korea.
Hampyeong Butterfly Festival
April 27 – May 8
Located in Hampyeong Expo Park area in Jeollanam-do, this festival turns the city into a butterfly fortress for two weeks, paying homage to one of nature’s most beautiful creatures. The eco-friendly festival is very family-orientated, though the drive to get there may be a bit of a hike.
2012 Hi Seoul Festival
Seoul’s most prominent cultural festival, the six-day event takes place in Yeouido Hangang Park and downtown Seoul. There are plenty of things to view, including non-verbal performance such as street theater, mime, visual theater, circus, dance and music.
Boseong Green Tea Festival
May 16 – May 20
Green tea fields, Chasori Park, Jeollanam-do Province
The birthplace of Korea's commercial tea industry, the area is the largest producer of tea in the country. Experience hands-on programs such as picking tea leaves, making tea, and sampling green tea snacks. A number of celebratory performances are also scheduled.
Buddha’s Birthday – Beomosa Temple
Set in a serene setting at the base of Geumjeong Mountain, Beomosa Temple is adorned with colored lotus lanterns in one of Busan’s more beautiful, traditional events. The day is usually celebrated with a free breakfast/lunch of sanchae (mountain vegetable), bibimbap and tea.
Haeundae Sand Festival
June 1 – June 4
One of the more frequented festivals by expats in the city is the Haeundae Sand Festival. Inspired by the clean sands, the festival features hot sand baths known to be beneficial for health and beauty, as well as fireworks, sand sculptures, concerts and beach sports.
Be sure to check the festival website or the Haps Calendar before heading out, as festivals have been known to be frequently canceled. Some festivals may charge admission.