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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Fall Festivals 2014

Fall is a great time to get out and explore Korea, as the temperatures during the daytime are reasonable, and you don’t feel like you’ll melt into a puddle whenever you move. The skies tend to be bright and clear, giving a pleasant backdrop for photos, and lots of communities all over the country are having various festivals. There is something going on somewhere to celebrate something pretty much every weekend, but certain events do stand out from the crowd. Here are some of the Don’t Miss festivals taking place in the next month or so:

Andong Maskdance Festival – September 26 – October 05

Taking place in downtown Andong and in the traditional Hahoe village, the Maskdance Festival is a great place to see some wonderful examples of traditional Korean culture. Andong is also famous for its jjimdak (chicken stew) and soju, so there’s plenty of reasons to make the trek up. Not only does it feature important cultural dances from Korea, they now include dance troupes from around the world in the celebration. The festival location is about 15 mins from the Andong Intercity Bus Terminal, and to get to Hahoe village, you can board bus 46 at the terminal.  It’s about a 40 minute trip. It’s also possible to take a slow train to Andong. For more information about the festival, check out their official website (available in English, French and German).

Jinju Lantern Festival – October 1 – 12

A festival to commemorate the brave battles fought at Jinju during the 1590’s Imjin War, where Korean forces were vastly outnumbered by the Japanese, this is one of the highlights of the Korean Festival year. The lanterns floated on the river are amazing to see, and well worth the trip down to Jinju. I went once, many years ago, and it remains one of the highlights of my whole time in Korea. If you’re into history, or stories where the underdog wins (at least at first), then read up on the siege of Jinju. I tell a short version of it in this article. The festival site is a short walk from the Jinju Intercity Bus Terminal, and more information can be found on their official website (English version available)

Seosan Haemi-eup Seong (Fortress) Festival – October 9-12

This festival takes place in the tiny hamlet of Haemi-eup just outside of the small city of Seosan in Chungcheongnamdo. It’s a bit of a trek from Ulsan (take the KTX to Daejeon, then a bus to Seosan Bus Terminal), but the Haemi Fortress is a site worth seeing, so why not go during a festival? This is the most intact fortress in Korea, and is 600 years old. The festival is apparently set up like a traditional Joseon Dynasty market place. You can read a bit about the fortress, and check out my photos, in this article. The official festival site is only in Korean.

Dongnaeeupseong (Fortress) Festival – October 10-12

Closer to home, this festival was considered Busan’s best festival for four consecutive years, and is apparently a great experiential history lesson. It takes place at the Dongnae Culture Center near the Myeongnyun subway station (line 1, exit 2). The official site is in Korean only.

Gang-gyeong Fermented Seafood Festival – October 15-19

Back up in Chuncheongnamdo is a festival for those with daring palates. This festival celebrates a 200 year old salted seafood market (the largest in Korea!). You can not only buy fresh or salted, low-temperature fermented seafood, you can also participate in programs for making your own fermented seafood, and for making kimchi with fermented seafood. There are also other non-fermented seafood events at this festival. It’s just a short walk from the Ganggyeong Intercity Bus Terminal. The website is only in Korean.

Ulsan Onggi Festival – October 24-26

Right in our own backyard! Learn all about onggi – the traditional Korean pottery used for making kimchi pots (among other things). There’s hands-on learning, as well as all the usual festival fun. This takes place just outside the city, at the Oegosan Onggi Village in Gosan-maeul. Take city buses 507 or 715 to the Gosan village (maeul) bus stop.

Busan International Fireworks Festival – October 24-25

After a day of learning about pottery, head down to Busan’s Gwanganli Beach to watch an absolutely spectacular fireworks display off the Gwangan Bridge with 1,000,000 of your closest friends and neighbours. The party kicks off on the Friday night, but the fireworks start at 8:00 on Saturday night (please note the dates on the official website are wrong, but the site is in English!). From Gwangan subway station (line 2) take exits 3 or 5 to head to the beach, or from Geumnyeon station take exits 1 or 3.

To see more festivals happening around Korea throughout the year, check out the Korea Tourism page. Not all festivals are listed there, but many are.